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Easy Homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

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Portuguese sweet bread is a soft, slightly sweet roll that is easy to make and a perfect side to your dinner, as a bun for sliders, or to eat just by itself. Definitely one of my favorite types of bread.

portuguese sweet bread

If anything good comes from what’s going on in the world right now it’s spending more time with family, making home cooked meals, and taking time to slow down and enjoy the little things in life.

Speaking of cooking and baking, homemade bread has been all the rage right now. I thought what better time than now to share one of my favorite bread recipes. . .PORTUGUESE SWEET BREAD.

If you’ve never tried these you’re missing out. Soft, fluffy rolls or loaves with just the right amount of sweet.

Toast it up and lather a layer of liliko’i butter on it, dip it in to Portuguese bean soup, use it as the bun for miso salmon burgers, or just eat it plain as I like to do sometimes.

lilikoi butter

The grandmas and aunties at the local churches here on Maui make some of the best sweet bread around. Unfortunately most times the bread is only made for special occasions leaving me craving it and without it. So, I decided to make it myself. After much trial and error I have come up with a pretty yummy recipe and I’ll share that with you.

Ingredients for Portuguese sweet bread

  • 1/4 cup warm water (between 105F and 110F)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 mixed with 1 teaspoon of water for the egg wash
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
portuguese sweet bread

What is yeast?

Yeast are fungus single-celled microorganisms. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a specific type of yeast species that turns carbohydrates into carbon dioxide and alcohol which is called fermentation. This is used to bake bread and make alcohol. There are different types of yeast and each are used differently.

Types of yeast 

  • Active dry yeast. This is what is used in this recipe and many other traditional bread recipes. It is usually sold in packets or glass jars. It is shelf stable and probably the more popular type of yeast to use. Active dry yeast will require you to dissolve it in warm water (between 105-110F) before using. Using water that is too warm can kill the yeast.
  • Instant yeast. This is a dry yeast that was developed by milling down the particles into smaller pieces. This means that this type of yeast does not need to be dissolved in water prior to use. It can be mixed right into your dry ingredients. This yeast will also give multiple rises like that of active dry yeast.
  • Quick-rise or rapid-rise yeast. Like instant yeast, this has also been milled into finer particles and can be added right to the dry ingredients without having to dissolve in water first. Unlike the first two types of yeasts mentioned, this yeast can be used with a single rise cutting down the proofing time. Although speed is nice you can lose out some flavor this way as it is not given enough time to develop.
  • Fresh yeast. This is more commonly used in commercial bakeries as it has a short shelf life. This type of yeast is compressed and sold in blocks.
portuguese sweet bread

Which yeast should I use?

In many recipes yeast can be used interchangeably, however you may need to adjust proof times or the amount used. 

How to interchange yeast?

  • Active dry yeast and instant yeast can be used interchangeably. The difference would be when the yeast is added to the recipe. As mentioned earlier active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water first and instant yeast can be added right to the dry ingredients.
  • Quick rise yeast can also be used in most recipes that require yeast, however after the dough is kneaded you can shape the loaf and put it right into the dough pan and allow it to rise only once before baking. 
  • If you opt to use fresh yeast in a recipe that calls for dry yeast you will only need half of the required amount and vice versa. 

Bread flour vs all-purpose flour

  • All-purpose flour is a standard white flour used in many different recipes. The bran and germ of the wheat in all-purpose flour has been stripped and all that remains is the endosperm, making it shelf stable. All-purpose flour protein content is generally between 9-11%. Protein determines how much gluten develops. The higher the gluten the stronger the flour. All-purpose flour is great for muffins, cookies, and pie crusts.
  • Bread flour contains about 11-13% protein and the main difference with all-purpose flour. As the name implies this is best for bread. Most breads have a higher gluten, which can create more gluten strands that catch the air bubbles during fermentation and create a more airy characteristic of bread. You can replace all-purpose flour with bread flour when you want a more chewy texture like that of pizza crust. I would not recommend using it in place of cake flour, which we will discuss next.
portuguese sweet bread

Other types of flour

  • Cake flour has a low protein count (9%) and creates a more light and air dough, like that of cake (surprise surprise). Cake flour can be used in pancakes instead of all-purpose flour, but would not work well in things like bread.
  • Pastry flour is on the very low end of the protein spectrum with just about 8%.

I only have salted butter, can I use that instead?

The salt content in salted butter can vary from brand to brand, which is why I suggest using unsalted butter and adding the amount of salt you desire. If all you have is salted butter, you can use it in this recipe, however you may need to adjust the amount of salt added to the recipe.

Do I need a stand mixer to make Portuguese sweet bread?

Nope, however it does make things a lot easier. You can definitely knead this dough by hand. I have a deep appreciation and admire all the people, especially the elderly, who knead dough by hand. It is a great workout for sure.

portuguese sweet bread

Tips for bread making

  • Allow the bread to rise until doubled. I know this process can be time consuming, but patience is key here.
  • Also allow the bread to completely cool before cutting. This allows the bread to cook through completely and allows the structure of the bread to form.
  • Be sure to knead the bread until smooth. This ensures adequate gluten formation and a well mixed dough.

How to store Portuguese sweet bread?

This bread is best eaten fresh, however you can store in an airtight zip top bag or container at room temperature for a few days. You can also freeze for up to 6 months. Be sure to keep as much air out as possible. 

How to make Portuguese sweet bread?

Add warm water and yeast to a small bowl and set aside.

portuguese sweet bread

To the bowl of a stand mixer add sugar and butter. Mix with the paddle attachment until well combined.

Then add 2 eggs and mix again. Next add milk and salt, again mixing until well combined. Then add yeast and water mixture to the wet ingredients.

portuguese sweet bread

Stop the mixer and add 1 cup of flour. Restart the mixer on low and continue to add 1 cup of flour at a time. Once all the flour has been added to the bowl stop the mixer and remove the paddle attachment scraping off excess dough. Replace with a dough hook.

portuguese sweet bread

Start the mixer on medium speed and knead until dough forms a smooth, elastic round ball. This takes about 5 minutes. The dough should be just slightly sticky to the touch. If too wet add more flour about 1/4 cup at a time. Being sure to mix well with each addition.

portuguese sweet bread

Stop the mixer and turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead just until a ball is formed.

portuguese sweet bread

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl being sure to coat the ball with oil as well. Cover bowl with a cloth and place in a warm area to rise for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. The amount of time it takes to rise will vary depending on the temperature of the room. Warmer conditions will allow bread to rise faster. You can place the dough in the oven while it’s off with the light on to create a warm environment.

portuguese sweet bread

Once dough has doubled in size, punch down the dough to release the air bubbles and turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.

Form dough into 14 dough balls by folding the edges of the dough into the middle and pinching it together. Then place the seam side of the dough ball down on the work surface and roll the ball between your fingers to shape the ball.

portuguese sweet bread

Add 7 balls to a well greased pie tin. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise again for another 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Once the bread has almost completely risen, preheat the oven to 350F.

Once bread has risen add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water to a small bowl and whisk together. Use this egg wash mixture to brush over the top of the bread. Be sure to do this lightly so the bread does not deflate.

portuguese sweet bread

Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow bread to completely cool before slicing. ENJOY!

portuguese sweet bread

Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

Yield: 14 rolls
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Portuguese sweet bread is a soft, slightly sweet roll that is easy to make and a perfect side to your dinner, as a bun for sliders, or to eat just by itself. Definitely one of my favorite types of bread.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm water (between 105F and 110F)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons (2 packages) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 mixed with 1 teaspoon of water for the egg wash
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups bread flour

Instructions

  1. Add warm water and yeast to a small bowl and set aside.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer add sugar and butter. Mix with the paddle attachment until well combined.
  3. Then add 2 eggs and mix again. Next add milk and salt, again mixing until well combined. Then add yeast and water mixture to the wet ingredients.
  4. Stop the mixer and add 1 cup of flour. Restart the mixer on low and continue to add 1 cup of flour at a time. Once all the flour has been added to the bowl stop the mixer and remove the paddle attachment scraping off excess dough. Replace with a dough hook.
  5. Start the mixer on medium speed an knead until dough forms a smooth, elastic round ball. This takes about 5 minutes. The dough should be just slightly sticky to the touch. If too wet add more flour about 1/4 cup at a time. Being sure to mix well with each additions.
  6. Stop the mixer and turn dough out on to a floured work surface and knead just until a ball is formed.
  7. Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl being sure to coat the ball with oil as well. Cover bowl with a cloth and place in a warm area to rise for about 1 1/2 hours or unttil doubled in size. The amount of time it takes to rise will vary depending on the temperature of the room. Warmer conditions will allow bread to rise faster. You can plce the dough in the oven while it's off with the light on to create a warm environment.
  8. Once dough has double in size punch down the dough to release the air bubbles and turn dough out on to a lightly floured work surface.
  9. Form dough in to 14 dough balls by folding the edges of the dough in to the middle and pinching it together. Then place the seam side of the dough ball down on the work surface and roll the ball between your fingers to shape the ball.
  10. Add 7 balls to a well greased pie tin. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise again for another 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  11. Once the bread has almost completely risen, preheat the oven to 350F.
  12. Once bread has risen add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water to a small bowl and whisk together. Use this egg wash mixture to brush over the top of the bread. Be sure to do this lightly so the bread does not deflate.
  13. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  14. Allow bread to completely cool before slicing. ENJOY!

Notes

*Be sure not to heat the water over 110F as that may kill off the yeast.

*You may need about a cup more of bread flour to get the right consistency of the bread.

*Rise time will vary depending on the temperature of the environment. Warmer temperatures will allow the bread to rise quicker, also called proofing. The bread has completed the proofing time when it has doubled in size.

* Bread flour has a high protein content than that of all purpose flour and should be used in this recipe. This creates more strands of gluten, thus more stretch and elasticity.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 226Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 7g

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portuguese sweet bread

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By on April 28th, 2020

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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30 thoughts on “Easy Homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe”

  1. Oh my gosh I’m so glad you explained the different yeasts and when to use them and what can be interchanged for which. I have been so confused about that lol and that’s why I don’t like making breads. Thank you for clearing that up!

    Reply
  2. I just want to bite into one of these right now! Thanks for sharing the tips, too. Although we live in a rush-rush world today, time is really the only thing that will take a lot of recipes from just ok to insanely great, so it is good that you pointed this out. 🙂

    Reply
  3. In the video there are two different doughs that you work with, both sticky and not so sticky (this is after the addition of flour with the dough hook). Which is the correct dough consistency you use to determine how much flour to add? I’ve had two batches work, and three that didn’t. The three batches never rose. The first two had the dough on the drier side and my last batch I left it tacky. Temperature was a little cool for the last batch, but I tried to proof in the oven with hot water. Any help would be appreciated. The two batches that did work were great. Thanks so much for this recipe.

    Reply
    • The dough will be slightly tacky prior to being kneaded. After kneading it should no longer be tacky. If the dough didn’t rise the issue may be the yeast or the environment that the dough was proofed in. I like to proof in either an oven that is off, but just the light is on or in a microwave that is off with the light on. Let me know if you have any other questions. Mahalo!

      Reply
  4. I am going to attempt make this recipe for my aunt’s 70th Birthday! I do not have a mixer and was wondering if I am making it by hand do I add all the ingredients to a bowl and then mix it before kneading it on the countertop? Or do i lay the flour on the counter and add the ingredients to a whole in the middle of the flour and slowly mix it all together?

    Reply
    • That’s a big undertaking, but hey the grandmas do it that way all the time. I’d say mix in the bowl then knead on the table, but honestly do what works best for you.

      Reply
  5. First batch came out simply amazing! Tried using the rapid yeast and it didn’t rise… so sad. How to use the rapid rise incase i should try again? thank you for making it so easy to make.

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried them with rapid rise. Sometimes the rapid rises too quickly and you don’t get that depth of yeast flavor that the other active dry yeast does. Glad the first batch came out great!

      Reply
  6. Hi! I am going to try this recipe and wondered if there is a way that the top could come out with a lighter color. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply
    • Aloha Penny. Brushing the eggs on top creates that browned top. You can omit that, use less, or brush it later in the bake time to adjust the browning to your liking. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

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