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Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe – Easy Massa Sovada for Easter

If you’re a fan of sweet breads, then this Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe is a must-try. Known as Massa Sovada, this bread is traditionally made during Easter and is a staple in many Portuguese households. But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until Easter to enjoy this delicious delight! This post will guide you through the simple steps in making this lovely bread. Let’s dive in!

Background of Portuguese Sweet Bread

Portuguese sweet bread, or Massa Sovada, is a type of bread that has its roots in Portugal. Brought to New England by Portuguese immigrants, this sweet, slightly dense bread is now a beloved part of many family recipes. This simple bread is usually enjoyed on a daily basis, but it takes on special significance during Easter, where it’s also known as Folar da Pascoa.

Ingredients Used in Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

While the original recipe may vary slightly from family to family, the basic ingredients remain the same. The bread flour, active dry yeast, and warm water come together to create the base of the bread. The sweetness comes from the sugar, while the unsalted butter, milk, and eggs add richness. The zest of lemon or orange gives a subtle hint of citrus. Some versions even include a boiled egg in the dough!

Various ingredients like bread flour, yeast, sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and citrus zest spread out on a kitchen counter.

Preparing the Yeast Mixture

Start by preparing your yeast mixture. In a small bowl, combine milk, warm water and yeast. Stir until the yeast is fully dissolved. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes until it becomes frothy. This is a sign that the yeast is active and ready to help your dough rise.

Creating the Dough

Next, in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the yeast mixture with a cup of flour and sugar. Once it’s well mixed, add the eggs, melted butter, and the zest of a lemon. Gradually add in the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, a little at a time, until it pulls away from the bottom of the bowl.

Creating dough in a stand mixer. On the side, a bowl of yeast mixture and a cup of flour are visible.

Kneading the Dough

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands. You can also use the dough hook attachment on your mixer. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes. The end result will be a beautiful ball of dough ready for its first rise.

The First Rise

Place the dough in a large bowl that’s been lightly greased with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place. The dough should double in size, which usually takes about 2 hours. This is the first rise in the process of creating your delicious sweet bread.

A ball of dough in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, placed in a warm place for rising.

Punching and Shaping the Dough

After the dough has risen, it’s time to punch it down and shape it. Punching the dough helps to remove any air bubbles that may have formed during the rise. Once you’ve punched the dough, you can shape it into a round loaf or smaller loaves or rolls, depending on your preference. This versatile dough can also be used to make delicious rolls or even Hawaiian sweet bread!

The Second Rise

Once you’ve shaped your dough, it’s time for the second rise. Place your loaf or rolls on a baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel, and let them rise until they’ve doubled in size. This second rise will give your bread its final shape and texture.

Shaped dough covered with a kitchen towel, placed on a baking sheet for the second rise.

Baking the Portuguese Sweet Bread

With your dough risen for the second time, it’s time to bake! Preheat your oven and bake until the bread has a beautiful golden brown color. The smell of fresh bread will fill your kitchen and the finished product will be a delicious, sweet loaf that’s perfect for breakfast, as a snack, or even as French toast!

Enjoying Your Portuguese Sweet Bread

Slice your finished Portugese sweet bread and serve warm with a pat of butter or your favorite jam. Whether you’re enjoying it on Easter Sunday, or any day of the week, this bread is sure to be a hit. And the best part? This sweet bread recipe will make you feel like you’re in a Portuguese bakery, no matter where you are.

Freshly baked Portuguese sweet bread on a cutting board, sliced and served with butter.

Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

This traditional Portuguese Sweet Bread, also known as Pão Doce, is a soft, slightly sweet bread that's perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea. The recipe yields two loaves, making it ideal for sharing with family and friends.


  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 packets of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for glaze


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, butter, and salt over low heat until the butter is melted. Let it cool until it reaches a lukewarm temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes until it becomes frothy.
  3. Beat the eggs into the yeast mixture. Then, slowly add the lukewarm milk mixture while constantly stirring.
  4. Add in the lemon and vanilla extract. Stir until well combined.
  5. Gradually add 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. If it’s too wet, add in the remaining cup of flour.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.
  7. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it over to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until it's doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  8. Punch down the dough, then divide it in half. Shape each piece into a round loaf and place them on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let them rise again until they've doubled, about 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  10. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture to give them a glossy finish.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  12. Let the bread cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.


This bread is best served warm with a spread of butter or jam. It can also be enjoyed plain, as it has a subtle sweetness that stands out on its own.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 225Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 110mgCarbohydrates: 38gNet Carbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 6g

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