This Portuguese Sweet Bread is a classic, traditional recipe from my Portuguese ancestors. A crusty exterior lends itself to a soft texture inside this delicious Portuguese Sweet Bread, and it has a sweet flavor that is so appealing.
The Portuguese people like their bread. I remember my grandmother always putting a basket of Portuguese Sweet Bread on the table– no matter what sort of dinner we were having. It’s often enjoyed as a complement to meats and soups. Bread is used to sop up juices that meat leaves behind on dinner plates. And it’s often seen in Portuguese soups and stews at the bottom of the bowl with the soup/stew poured on top.
This recipe came from a scrappy, homemade cookbook of favorites from my Portuguese relatives. I find that those are the best kind of recipes- real treasures!
What is Portuguese Sweet Bread?
Portuguese Sweet Bread is a bread made with milk, sugar, eggs, yeast and flour. Sometime lemon zest is added in. It’s most often made in loaf form, but you can use the dough to make dinner-sized rolls too. It’s traditionally made around Christmas, but the Portuguese make it all year long. Around Easter, a slightly different version of Portuguese Sweet Bread is made to include a hard boiled egg. It’s simply served with butter.
This bread is most common in Portugal, of course. But it’s also seen quite often in areas with large populations of Portuguese-Americans or Canadians (New England, Hawaii, New Jersey, Florida, California and Toronto, Canada). King’s Hawaiian is a company that produces a version of Portuguese Sweet Bread.
How to make Portuguese Sweet Bread:
Yeast is dissolved in warm water. Sugar, hot milk, butter and salt are combined in a large bowl. Eggs are mixed in, then the flour. Next comes turning it out onto a floured surface to knead (alternately, a dough hook on a stand mixer can do the kneading). Then the dough is put into a buttered bowl, covered and given two hours to rise.
After rising, the dough is taken out, punched down and divided into two round loaves. Those loaves are placed into buttered pie plates or bread pans and then covered and given another hour to rise before baking. It’ll take about 20 minutes in the oven for these loaves to bake. After a bit of cooling time, they’re ready for slicing and eating!
If you’re interested in hosting a Portuguese Dinner Party with friends, please take a look at my Portuguese Dinner Party Menu. I used this theme once with my neighborhood’s Gourmet Dinner Group, and the food was all pretty amazing!
Here are some Portuguese recipes you can keep on hand to try:
- Classic Sangria
- Green Olive Dip
- Portuguese Caldo Verde Soup
- Portuguese Salad
- Pork Stew with Clams, Mussels and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
- Portuguese Roasted Potatoes
- Orange Cake
- Portuguese Caramelized Almond Tart
Portuguese Sweet Bread
- 2 .25-ounce envelopes active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup hot scalded milk
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, well beaten
- 7 1/2 cups all purpose flour (measure, then sift)
- In a small bowl, dissolve the 2 packages of yeast in the warm water- let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
- In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, milk, butter and salt. Stir the mixture until the butter melts. Cool the mixture until it is lukewarm, then beat in the eggs and the yeast mixture. Gradually beat in the flour, blending well until dough is smooth.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle dough with more flour. Knead the dough for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is very smooth and small blisters appear on the surface. Add more flour to the board if necessary. If you're using a dough hook on a stand mixer, 7 to 8 minutes of kneading should be plenty.
- Put the dough in a buttered bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it doubles in bulk.
- Punch the dough down and shape it into 2 small round loaves. Flatten the loaves and put them in buttered pie plates. Cover the loaves with clean dishtowels, and let them rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until they are almost double in bulk.
- Bake the loaves at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and test done. Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack and let them cool.
- *If you prefer, you can bake these loaves in two loaf pans instead.