Now that the first flakes of snow are dusting the valley is a good time to bake something warm and satisfying. Why not make it something you can add to tonight’s dinner as well?
Although the origin of this type of bread is a bit murky – called ‘Hawaiian’ but all sources say it is a Portuguese recipe – they are popular in Hawaii as well as well known in the grocery store. Many recipes include other ingredients, such as pineapple juice, to flavor the recipe while this version is slightly sweet and has a hint of citrus from a combination of lemon and orange zest in the dough.
This bread is makes a soft, flavorful roll that is amazing on its own or piled high with some Kahlua pork or other sandwich toppings.
Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Bread
(Makes 20 rolls)
FOR THE SPONGE:
1/2 cup unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup room temperature water
Whisk together in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft free place (like your oven while it is turned off, but with the light on) for 60 minutes or until it is very bubbly, looks ready to collapse and is foamy.
FOR THE DOUGH:
1/2 cup cane sugar
zest from 1 small lemon (about 1 teaspoon)
zest from a small orange (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup warm milk
sponge mixture from above
In a large bowl (stand mixer with paddle attachment or by hand) rub the sugar with the lemon and orange zest. Add the vanilla, butter and salt and mix well to combine. Add the eggs and beat to combine. Add the flour and sponge mixture with the warm milk and beat well. Knead thoroughly – 15 minutes by hand, 10 minutes with the dough hook and mixer. The dough should be smooth, elastic and slightly tacky but not sticky. Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour as needed to get the texture right but don’t add too much – only 2 tablespoons or so if needed.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it in a clean, oiled bowl, turning the ball to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft free place to rise till doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean work surface. Divide the dough into 2 halves, then divide each half into 10 pieces to make 20 rolls. Lightly oil two 9-inch round pie plates and set aside. To shape the rolls take each piece of dough and cup it in the curve of your hand between your thumb and forefinger, then roll it by pushing forward with your hand and pressing the edge of the dough to tighten it into a ball.
Place each shaped dough ball into the lightly oiled 9-inch round pie plate in a flower shape – 7 pieces around the outside and three in the middle as shown above in the pictures. Lightly spray with oil and cover with plastic wrap. At this point you can place the dough in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding, or you can set it aside in a draft free place to rise again at room temperature until well doubled in size – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you refrigerate the dough then when you take it out of the refrigerator before baking it will take twice as long for the dough to rise – think of it as 2 hours to come back to room temperature, then about 2 hours to actually rise.
When the rolls have risen and are puffy preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake rolls for 22-25 minutes or until dark golden and baked through. Allow them to cool in the pans before eating or cutting or they will seem doughy. Store them in an airtight bread bag or container and use with 5 days.