October 20, 2011

Portuguese Bread

So it was Mr.Tasteful and my 13th wedding anniversary and I wanted to cook a meal that represented our past. There is this great Portuguese restaurant on Long Island that Mr. Tasteful and his family took me while we were dating. I believe it was the place where you could say we "fell in love" with each other. Food was so good and simple. So I wanted to recreate a Portuguese chicken, rice and bread, and for desert flan. At first I was going to walk to the store and go by bread,  hoping they would even have a Portuguese bread. Before I left I did some research and it seemed like a simple bread to make. So I had all the ingredients and decided to try it even though it was 2:30pm. I found a recipe from a European website using metric measurements....this worried me because I barely can do math. I spent about 30 min researching this. So I came out with some measurements and changed some of the ingredients. The bread turned out really good! In fact Mr.Tasteful was most impressed because it came very close to what we had in NY. It was so simple that I didn't even think it would work. I was also happy that the recipe did not require butter or eggs which was a huge cost savings! This bread loaf probably cost $.50 to make, it would have cost at least $4.00 or more to buy a fresh bread from the store.

My little cupcake did well she was distracted by all her snacks so it was a smooth baking day. Plus the steps were so simple compared to my white bread I have made (will post one day).  It was great having her with us while we ate dinner on 10/17 (our anniversary is actually 10/18) because on our 11th anniversary our biggest gift was given to us on 10/17 when we found out we were having our first child.

4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of warm water
One packet of yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Preheat oven to 400
Bake 25-30 min

Place water in bowl with yeast and sugar let sit for 10 mins to activate (bubble) and double in size. Once yeast is activated add salt and stir everything together so salt dissolves.
Then one cup at a time add flour and blend together with spoon. Once the 4 cups of flour have been added start kneading mixture with your hands.  Place ball of dough on a lightly dusted floured surface and start kneading by hand for 10 mins (if you have a Kitchen Aid mixer you can allow it to do the work but only knead for 5 mins) while adding the half cup of flour one or two tablespoons at a time. It will be sticky however you should be able to manage without adding more flour once you empty the half cup of flour.If you must add more flour only add one tablespoon at a time until the dough is just slightly sticky (no huge chunks sticking to your fingers) and knead it. Lightly coat large bowl with olive oil before placing dough in bowl. Once you place dough in bowl lightly coat the dough with olive oil. Let sit in a warm area (like oven) with a damp towel over bowl for at least 45 mins or more so the dough will double in size. I allowed my dough to rest for two hours because my kitchen area was cold.

Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly push your fist into middle of dough (like you are gently hitting your pillow to fluffy it) Place dough on a lightly dusted surface and knead dough for one or two min. This recipe will make one large loaf. Form dough into a round loaf. Then place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper ( I did not have parchment paper so I just lightly oiled my sheet first). Then take the one tablespoon of olive oil and pour it all over dough. Make three long deep cuts into dough. Then Flour it lightly with flour maybe 1/2 tspn. Bake at 400 for 25 min (I mistakenly baked mine at 350 and just baked for 35 min). It should have a light color. The bread is very heavy and will sound hard as a rock when you take out of oven. Let bread cool down (30 min) because the crust will soften and allow the bread to become chewy. It may taste salty to you, I like that! I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt when I made mine, however for recipe cut it down to 1 1/4 teaspoon. Portuguese also have a light rye loaf, just use this recipe and next time substitute one and half cups of all purpose flour with rye flour depending on the strength of the Rye flour you want.

Add one cup of flour at a time and blend with spoon

Add half cup of flour 1 or 2 tbsp at a time, looking for sticky texture but not overly.
Lightly coat bowl and dough with olive oil for rise
Lightly coat baking sheet with olive oil, or use parchment paper
Make 3 slices across dough then place olive oil on top.
Lightly dust with flour after olive oil
Bread is done!
Our dinner table

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