Portuguese Sweet Bread

  • Active Time 20m
  • Total Time 3h 30m

Makes 2 loaves (16 servings each)

Most European cultures have a holiday bread, the Portuguese included. This lemony free-form loaf is associated with Easter and is popular anywhere Portuguese have settled, including the Hawaiian Islands.


  • 5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Decorative sugar (colored sugar or coarse sugar), optional


In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour and yeast; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat and stir the milk, sugar, butter or margarine and salt till the mixture is warm (120 to 130 degrees F) and the butter or margarine is almost melted. Add to the flour mixture, along with 2 eggs, lemon peel and lemon juice. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (6 to 8 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place till doubled (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Remove a 4-inch piece of dough; set aside. Divide remaining the dough in half. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape the 2 dough portions into balls. Place on 2 greased baking sheets. Flatten each slightly. Divide the remaining portion of dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 12-inch-long ropes. Place two of the ropes in a cross atop each flattened ball of dough; tuck the rope ends under balls, being sure not to stretch the dough too tight. (Or, twist 2 ropes together and place across the top. Tuck the rope ends under balls once again, being sure not to stretch dough too tight.) Cover and let rise in a warm place till nearly doubled (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Beat together the remaining egg and water. Brush the loaves with the egg mixture; sprinkle with decorative sugar, if desired. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or till the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. If necessary, cover loosely with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Remove from baking sheets; cool on racks.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 522

nutrition information per serving

122 calories; 2g total fat; 25mg cholesterol; 48mg sodium; 22g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 3g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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