Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaf

This Portuguese Sweet Bread Loaf recipe is makes a soft, light, white bread for sandwiches. It’s a sweet, enriched bread with a punch of flavor from citrus zest and vanilla extract.

This sweet sandwich bread might not stand out in a steak sandwich, but it does great with turkey and cheese, cream cheese and jelly, and, of course, peanut butter and jelly. And there’s no better use for this bread when stale than my French toast waffles!

slice of white bread showing the soft crumb.
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Ingredients

flour, orange, lemon, vanilla, yeast, butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and milk powder on a countertop.

This Portuguese sweet bread recipe is made with a sweetened, enriched dough. It also has lemon and orange zest and vanilla for flavor.

 

Enriched dough has butter, eggs, or milk added to the flour, yeast, and salt. Other examples of enriched breads are brioche, challah, and Japanese milk bread. Note that this is different than enriched flour, which has added vitamins and minerals.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Recipe tips and tricks

Step by step

Step 1: Make the sponge for this Portuguese sweet bread.

a bread sponge with activated yeast bubbles.

Step 2: Add all the other ingredients on top. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place.

mixing bowl with flour, lemon zest, and orange zest on top of the sponge.

Tip from the wise quacker: The best temperature to proof bread is the high 70s. If your kitchen is cool, create a warm place by either 1) turning on your oven (use the proofing function if it has one) and turn it off when it reaches 80 degrees or 2) heat a microwave-safe cup of water in your microwave for a minute or two. Remove the water and quickly add your bread dough.

The sponge will start to bubble through after an hour our two.

bread sponge bubbling through the flour, lemon zest, and orange zest on top.

Step 3: Once the sponge is actively bubbling through, mix the dough, and shape it into a boule to let rise in the greased mixing bowl.

bread dough shaped into a boule in the bottom of a greased mixing bowl.

It should double in size or more in about two hours.

bread in a greased mixing bowl halfway up the sides.

Step 4: Divide the boule into two equal pieces and shape them into loaves. Put loaf in buttered 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pans or, per the original, into boules in two oiled 9 inch pie or cake pans.

white bread loaf in a loaf pan before rising.

Cover with plastic wrap and again proof until doubled in size. As bread rises, they should reach about an inch or so above the loaf pan.

unbaked white bread loaf in the loaf pan after rising.

Step 5: Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 50 to 60 min until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Check for burning after 30 minutes and cover loosely with foil if the top looks like it is getting too brown.

Step 6: Cool for at least one hour before cutting!

loaf of white sandwich bread with several slices and a bread knife on a cutting board.

Lessons learned

Please don’t make the same mistake I made of thinking that a recipe with three and a half cups of flour makes a single sandwich loaf of this sweet Portuguese bread. That thinking resulted in the below.

An oversized loaf of bread next to a wood baking ruler.

And, yes, that is my baking ruler. A friend gave it to me years ago because I’m an infectious disease specialist who focuses on HIV and sexually transmitted infections. For those of you asking where to get one like this, she doesn’t remember where she bought it.

Storage

Store bread at room temperature in a plastic bag or airtight container for a few days. You can also slice the loaf and freeze slices in a freezer bag with all of the air removed. Never store bread in the refrigerator, or it will dry out.

Recipe FAQs

Is this the same as Hawaiian sweet bread?

The Hawaiian and Portguese sweet breads are definitely related. Sweet bread was brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the 1800s.

What’s the difference between sweet bread and sweetbreads?

Sweetbreads are a totally different thing – the thymus and sometimes the pancreas. It’s usually from a young animal because, I’m guessing, the thymus (an organ of the immune system) undergoes involution and decreases in size in all mammals, just like I learned about in medical school.

Isn’t Portuguese sweet bread made with a hard boiled egg?

It can be. And if you can look online you’ll see links to a springtime pagan festival that became the basis for Easter. But that’s too much for me to get into here.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Recipe

Sweet Portuguese Bread Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: portuguese
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Rising times: 4 hours
Total Time: 6 hours
Servings: 32 slices
Calories: 81kcal
This sweet Portuguese bread recipe is great for those times you want a soft, light bread for sandwiches. It's a sweet, enriched bread with a special punch of flavor from the citrus zest and vanilla extract.
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Equipment

  • Two 9" by 5" loaf pans

Ingredients

Sponge

  • ½ cup (62 grams or 2.2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water

Dough

  • 3 cup (375 grams or 13.2 ounces) bread flour plus more as needed
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered milk
  • zest of 1 small orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Mix the sponge ingredients in the bowl of your mixer.
    ½ cup (62 grams or 2.2 ounces) bread flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoon instant yeast, 1 cup warm water
  • Top with the dry ingredients for the dough (flour, sugar, milk powder, zests), cover with plastic wrap, and let the bowl sit at warm room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, until the sponge is starting to bubble through.
    3 cup (375 grams or 13.2 ounces) bread flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, ¼ cup powdered milk, zest of 1 small orange, zest of 1 lemon
  • Mix at low speed, adding the butter and then the eggs and vanilla and then the salt.
    4 tablespoons (57 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, 2 eggs, room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon salt
  • When the dough comes together, knead in the mixer for 10 to 12 minutes. The final dough should be supple and soft and not wet or sticky.
  • Oil the bowl and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • Punch down and divide into two equal pieces and shape into loaves in buttered 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pans or, per the original, into boules in two oiled 9 inch pie or cake pans. P
  • Proof at warm room temperature until doubled in size. For loaves, they will reach about an inch or so above the loaf pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for 50 to 60 min until the internal temperature reaches 190°F. Check for burning after 30 minutes and cover loosely with foil if the tops are getting too brown too quickly.

Notes

This recipe really makes two loaves. If you don’t believe me, see above for my mistake when I first made the original recipe.
If you don’t have two loaf pans, you can make this Portuguese sweet bread recipe as round boules in cake pans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 81kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg
Love this recipe?Mention @Uglyducklingbakery or tag #uglyducklingbakery!

This recipe is only slightly adapted from the Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking? Get inspiration here:

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