Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe: Easy Massa Sovada Doce

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If you’ve had the pleasure of stepping inside a Portuguese bakery, you’ll know the epitome of comfort food is the Portuguese sweet bread.

This blog is here to guide you through a simple yet delicious Portuguese sweet bread recipe, also known as Massa Sovada Doce.

And while we’re not sharing our Vavo’s recipes, we promise this one is just as good!

Introducing the Portuguese Sweet Bread

A golden, round loaf of Portuguese sweet bread fresh from the oven.

Portuguese sweet bread, or Massa Sovada, is a staple in Portuguese bakeries, and it’s also a prevalent feature in Hawaiian cuisine as Hawaiian sweet bread.

This bread is a delicious sweet bread that’s slightly dense but incredibly soft and slightly sweet.

It’s perfect for snacking, making french toast, or simply enjoying with a pat of butter.

The Perfect Yeast Mixture

A small bowl filled with yeast mixture, showing the yeast being activated.

The key to any good yeast bread, including this Portuguese sweet bread recipe, is a well-prepared yeast mixture.

You’ll need warm water, instant yeast or active dry yeast, and a touch of sugar.

Let the yeast activate in a small bowl until it’s foamy and ready for action.

Learn about the difference between bread machine yeast and instant yeast.

Combining Ingredients in the Large Bowl

Once your yeast is activated, it’s time to combine the rest of your ingredients in a large bowl.

Start with bread flour or all-purpose flour (your pick), sugar, melted butter, eggs at room temperature, lemon zest, and salt.

Slowly pour in your yeast mixture and use a wooden spoon or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to combine.

Letting the Portuguese Sweet Bread Dough Rise

Close-up of sweet bread dough covered with a damp cloth, rising in a warm place.

A crucial part of this sweet bread recipe is letting the dough rise.

This dough is no quick bread; it requires patience.

After your ingredients are well combined, cover your large bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for its first rise.

Kneading and Shaping the Dough

Following the first rise, it’s time to punch the dough down.

Tip it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it well, incorporating any remaining flour.

This is also where you shape your dough into round loaves or smaller dough balls to make Portuguese rolls or Hawaiian rolls.

You can even put a boiled egg in the center for a traditional touch on Good Friday!

Preparing for the Second Rise

Round loaf of dough on a pie pan, ready for the second rise.

Once your dough is shaped, place them in a loaf pan or pie pan, cover with tea towels, and let them rise a second time.

This dough rise is essential to achieve the soft, fluffy texture that we love in Portuguese sweet bread.

Applying the Egg Wash

Once the dough has risen a second time, it’s time to prep them for the oven.

An egg wash (made from egg whites and a bit of water in a separate bowl) brushed on top of your loaves will give them a beautiful golden brown crust.

Baking the Portuguese Sweet Bread

Into the oven your loaves go!

They’ll bake until they’re golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Once they’re done, let them cool on wire racks before slicing into them.

There’s nothing like a fresh slice of Portuguese sweet bread – it’s the only thing better than an apple pie!

portuguese sweet bread roll

Serving Your Portuguese Sweet Bread

There are countless ways to enjoy this delicious bread.

You can serve it warm with a pat of butter, use it to make French toast, or even hollow out a round loaf and fill it with your favorite dip.

However you choose to serve it, this Portuguese sweet bread recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Just make sure you have a good bread knife to properly cut it!

So, whether you’re from the Azores Islands, Fall River, or anywhere in between, this delicious sweet bread is a taste of home.

So why wait?

Bring a bit of the Portuguese bakery to your kitchen with this easy, delightful Massa Sovada recipe.

You may also like our Alabama sweet bread recipe

Delightfully Delicious Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

Delightfully Delicious Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

Yield: 2 loaves
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Indulge in the rich and heavenly taste of Portuguese Sweet Bread, a traditional delicacy that is bound to impress anyone with its soft, fluffy texture and sweet, buttery flavor. This bread is often served during holidays and special occasions, but with this easy recipe, you can enjoy it anytime.


  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 5 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Add the butter and sugar and stir until the butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and let it cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Set them aside.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Stir gently until the yeast is completely dissolved. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it becomes frothy.
  4. Once the milk mixture has cooled, combine it with the beaten eggs. Add the yeast mixture, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Stir everything together.
  5. Gradually add in 5 cups of flour and the salt, mixing well after each addition. Continue to add more flour as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.
  6. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic.
  7. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  8. After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into two equal parts. Shape each part into a round loaf and place them on a greased baking sheet. Cover again and let them rise for another 1 to 2 hours.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Brush the loaves with the egg wash.
  10. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  11. Let the bread cool on a wire rack. Optionally, you can dust it with powdered sugar for an extra sweet touch.


This bread is perfect for breakfast or as a snack, paired with a cup of your favorite coffee or tea.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 186mgCarbohydrates: 57gNet Carbohydrates: 55gFiber: 2gSugar: 10gSugar Alcohols: 0gProtein: 11g
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