Portuguese Sweet Bread

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Yield: one 9" loaf

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This soft, sweet bread, subtly flavored with both lemon and vanilla, makes delicious toast (or French toast). Or enjoy it plain; it's so tasty, it doesn't even need butter. By the way, if you're looking for a recipe for "Hawaiian bread," this one comes very close.

Portuguese Sweet Bread

star rating (10) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: one 9" loaf
Published: 02/01/2013



Feb. 1, 2013: This is a fine-tuned, simplified, down-sized version of an earlier Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe on this site. It uses the same ingredients and produces the same bread, but the directions are clearer and the result more foolproof.

1) Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a microwave-safe cup, or in a saucepan. Heat to lukewarm, stirring to soften the butter. Set aside.

2) In a mixing bowl, the bowl of your stand mixer, or the bucket of your bread machine, combine the flour, yeast, and lemon zest; stir to combine.

3) Add the milk mixture, stirring first to make sure the sugar and salt aren't left in the bottom of the cup or pan.

4) Add the eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Mix and knead until the dough is cohesive and smooth; it'll be very sticky at first. If you're using a stand mixer, beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It will have formed a ball somewhat, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl. If you're using a bread machine, simply let it go through its entire cycle, and skip to step 6.

5) Lightly grease the mixing bowl or a large (8-cup) measure, round the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl or measure. Cover, and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you're using a bread machine and the dough hasn't doubled in size when the cycle is complete, simply let it rest in the machine for another 30 to 60 minutes.

6) Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan.

7) Gently deflate the dough, and round it into a ball. Place the ball in the prepared pan, and tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Or cover it with the cover of your choice; we use clear shower caps here in the King Arthur test kitchen.

8) Let the dough rise in the pan for about 2 hours, until it's nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

9) Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the loaf; this will give it a satiny, mahogany-brown crust.

10) Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it's a medium golden brown and its internal temperature registers 190°F on a digital thermometer.

11) Remove the bread from the oven, and gently transfer it to a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature, well-wrapped, for several days' freeze for longer storage.

Yield: 1 loaf.


  • star rating 03/02/2015
  • Deb from Brighton, MI
  • This bread turned out wonderful, terrific taste and texture, loved the hint of lemon. We made French toast and it was terrific. Planning on baking two more loaves this weekend to give away.
  • star rating 11/23/2014
  • alleygirl1 from KAF Community
  • First time making. Very easy and yummy! However I will decreased the vanilla to one tsp as I found it overwhelming for my taste.
  • star rating 12/26/2013
  • Patricia from Oregon
  • Made this once in my bread machine and it was just "okay." Mine was coarse and not at all tender. It did not too well when I decided to make it into rolls (to replace the Hawaiian bread rolls that were sold out at the store before Christmas) and put it in the fridge overnight to bake the next morning. Fortunately I was supicious about their appearance and threw ingredients for a loaf of oatmeal bread into the machine... it turned out delicious....
  • star rating 03/27/2013
  • Emily from Napa, CA
  • I am Portuguese and grew up making this with my mom, who of course made the best one around. This is an Easter bread and I am getting ready to make some this weekend for the first time without her (she passed away earlier this year). Luckily I have her recipe and even her kneading technique on video. That said, her recipe does not call for any milk, although different Azores islands have different approaches.
  • star rating 03/18/2013
  • Susan from Machias, ME
  • Delicious and perfect! Followed recipe exactly but left off wash (prefer a light crust) and baked in a loaf pan. Perfectly yummy sandwich bread!
  • star rating 03/16/2013
  • Moe from Queens NY
  • Picture perfect loaf. Used a loaf pan followed recipe to the letter, rise was beautiful and taste yuuuum.
  • star rating 02/28/2013
  • candela_59 from KAF Community
  • I made this bread and it took forever to rise. I almost thought that my bread machine was broken lol! I had to take it out of the bread machine when the dough cycle was completed and continue to let it rise in a bowl for the first rise. The second rise wasn't quite as lengthy, thank goodness. I didn't realize that it would make such a difference using regular SAF instant yeast vs. the SAF Gold Yeast. This is my first experience with a sweet egg bread. Let me say that this bread was worth every second, ok hour, of worrying about it! It was absolutely delicious and overall easy once I understood the "mechanics" of the different types of yeast. I will be making this one again and again once I purchase the correct yeast. I just wish it SAF yeast for sweet breads came in a smaller size since I don't make this type of bread very often.
  • star rating 02/20/2013
  • Mswall@sc.rr.com from KAF Community
  • Made this bread while visiting family and it was such a hit. So easy I will use this recipe often. Will try adding some dried fruit to the dough the next time.
  • star rating 02/06/2013
  • Dawn DeMeo from KAF Community
  • This bread is fantastic! Great for a breakfast bread! It turned out amazingly light and airy. The smell in my kitchen reminded me of panettone, and the taste is reminiscent of that as well...without all the dried fruit, of course. I'd considered making a sweet glaze to drizzle over it when it came out of the oven. I think next time I will. A word of caution: This dough rises a LOT! (Not surprising, considering the amount of yeast.) The directions say to let it rise for about 2 hours after shaping it and putting it in the pan. Check on it after 1 hour, though. It might already be huge. Mine was!

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