Hawaiian/Portugese Bread

I always knew this as Hawaiian bread, but its introduction in Bread Baker's Apprentice informs me that it is actually of Portugese origin. Either way, it is pretty fantastic stuff. I first tried it when I was in high school and baby-sitting some neighbours with my sister. The kids (who are now frighteningly grown-up) were surprised we'd never tried it, and insisted we do so because it was so good. This was King's packaged, store-bought Hawaiian bread too, nothing fancy. But we tried it, and it was like crack for us -- it's soft, sweet, and slightly fruity, what's not to love? Plus it was way too unhealthy to be allowed in our house, so it was a bit of a forbidden pleasure. The closest thing we ever had to white bread was country oat. Still, mom's work paid off, and now my favourite breads have more whole grains, more seeds, and fewer unhealthy ingredients even than anything she had us eat. My mom and sister still really like oat breads though, so I'll probably be making some one of these days.

In some ways, it seems to defeat the purpose of having a baking blog when I am doing nothing but make breads from recipes lately, as anyone could do just as well. Still, I have tried making my own breads and, while it does work, I know I need to learn more. Besides, I might as well use these cookbooks while I still have them checked out of the library.

I only made one change to the recipe, which is the work of years of experimentation by bakers who grew up eating good Hawaiian bread, and that was to substitute Grand Marnier for the orange extract. We have lemon extract, which I'll be using when I finally get around to making a stollen (though that won't be until new year's, most likely, because there is no candied citron to be had, even for ready money and it had to be ordered online) but I can't imagine myself using either lemon or orange extract very often and didn't want to buy both just for this bread. There is a nearly unused bottle of mint extract in the spice cabinet too. But getting back to the Hawaiian bread, I did make one other deviation from the instructions and gave it a very long second rise while I was sleeping. It doesn't seem to have hurt anything, though it's possible the bread could have been lighter and fluffier if I'd caught it just as the yeast had peaked.

The bread came out beautifully, and thanks to two friends who came over to have some with tea this afternoon, we've finished both loaves in a day. It makes a fantastic ham sandwich, as well as being delicious plain (or with butter or apricot jam).

Recipe from: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart.