The saffron bread often served at Eastertide in Portugal and the Azores inspired these lightly sweetened golden loaves. Try toasting slices and serving them with jam or cheese.
Serving: Two 9 x 5-inch loaves (18 servings)
1/4 teaspoon saffron, crumbled
1 cup warm water
2 packages dry active yeast
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
Make the dough: Steep the saffron in the warm water for 10 minutes in a small bowl.
Combine the yeast, the 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup of the saffron water in a large bowl. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Coat a large bowl with the butter and set aside. Stir the yeast-and-flour mixture (the "sponge") down with a wooden spoon and stir in the 1/2 cup sugar, the remaining saffron water, egg yolks, whole egg and remaining flour. Continue to stir until a very sticky dough forms - about 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, form it into a ball, and transfer it to the prepared bowl, turning to coat all sides with butter. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until the dough doubles in volume - about 1 hour.
Bake the bread: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Form both halves into loaves and place in two 9x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Cover with the damp towel and let rise until doubled in volume - about 20 minutes. Bake in the lower third of the oven until loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped - 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Per Serving: Calories: 186 Total Fat: 4 g Cholesterol: 54.2 mg Sodium: 6.2 mg Carbohydrates: 32.5 g Fiber: 1.3 g Protein: 4.5 g