This Portuguese Bread is a luscious, sweet, soft bread from Portugal.
A deep golden tan on the outside, this Portuguese bread is light, tender and airy within. It’s enriched with butter, eggs and milk making this bread extremely addictive.
TBut for fascination value it has to be yeast because it is so alive and powerful. Turning simple flour into a living, breathing being.
Why you’ll love this recipe
There is nothing more fascinating than baking with yeast. Yeast is so alive and powerful that it transforms simple flour into a living, breathing being.
This recipe for sweet Portuguese Bread, adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent, is great because it make 2 loaves. Eat one fresh and freeze the other for later.
Portuguese bread make the best toast. I like to slice the second loaf, wrap it well in plastic before freezing it. Then you have sliced bread ready in the freezer for your morning toast.
Maybe you could gift the second loaf to someone special. So, while this bread may take a little time and effort, the results are worthwhile. Most of all, everyone is going to love you because you made this Portuguese bread.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
For this sweet Portuguese bread you will need:
- bread flour which has extra gluten to create a strong dough
- active yeast – be sure that the yeast is fresh
- warm water that is not too hot which will kill the yeast
- unsalted butter, eggs and milk for richness
- sugar which will help create that dark, burnished crust
- lemon zest for flavoring
Start this recipe the night before by making the sponge and allowing it to ferment overnight. This will create a delicious rich taste to the sweet Portuguese bread.
- Beat the butter and sugar.
- Add lemon zest, salt and then eggs.
- Stir in the sponge and milk.
- Then gradually add flour.
- Knead well then allow to rise.
- Shape the risen dough and allow to rise again.
- Brush with egg wash and bake.
Tips for success and FAQ’s
Yeast baking is not that hard. First of all, be sure to have fresh yeast, even dried yeast becomes stale and inactive. Give the dough warmth and care. Though it seems like a long process, it is the resting and rising that takes up the bulk of the time.
Yes! Divide dough as described in the recipe. Then form each portion of dough into a ball. Set slightly apart in a square baking pan and allow to rise. Baking time may be slightly less.
This bread will keep well stored in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Yes. Wrap the cooled bread well in plastic then place in a heavy duty, zip lock bag and freeze for up to a month. Portuguese bread can be sliced before freezing so that one or two slices can be removed from the freezer.
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Sweet Portuguese Bread ( Massa Sovada)
- ½ cup bread flour
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) dried active yeast
- ½ cup warm water
- 6 tablespoons (3oz/85 grams) unsalted butter at room temp
- ½ cup sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs at room temp
- ½ cup milk at room temp
- 3 ½ cups bread flour or as needed
- 1 egg (extra) beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
To make sponge
- Mix together flour and yeast then stir in warm water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. It will rise and then fall back on itself. It should have a pleasant yeasty smell.
To make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, lemon rind and salt and beat with a flat beater for 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. It will look curdled but that’s ok. Mix in the milk and the sponge. Add 2 ½ cups flour and beat on low. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Switch to a dough hook. Add ¾ cup flour and knead on low speed for 5 more minutes until the dough is soft and supple. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour onto a work surface, scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes. The dough should be soft and a little tacky. If the dough still seems wet knead in 2 more tablespoons of flour.
- Clean out the bowl and rub with a little oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
- Divide the dough in half and then each half into 9 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball.
- Coat two 20cm/8inch cake pans with non stick cooking spray. Arrange 9 balls of dough in each pan. Spray the tops of the dough lightly with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
- Brush the loaves with egg wash and bake for 45 minutes or until the loaves are dark, golden brown and cooked through. The loaves will colour deeply but don’t think they are done before time, it is the sugar in the dough that causes the deep colouration.
- Remove loaves from pans and allow to cool on wire racks.