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Portuguese sweet bread

Discover the joy of making Portuguese Sweet Bread (Pão Doce) - a rich, fluffy, and slightly sweet delight perfect for any occasion. Easy, traditional recipe.

by Maria
Portuguese sweet bread

Portuguese Sweet Bread, or “Pão Doce,” is a delightful and iconic bread from Portugal, cherished for its rich, sweet flavor and soft, fluffy texture. Originating from the Azores, this bread is a staple during festive occasions like Easter and Christmas.

Its unique sweetness, often enhanced with a hint of vanilla or lemon zest, sets it apart from other European breads. Traditionally, it’s baked in a round form, symbolizing unity and family, and is known for its slightly golden crust and tender crumb.

The making of Pão Doce is more than just a baking process; it’s a cherished ritual passed down through generations. The bread’s slightly sweet taste and brioche-like texture make it versatile for various meals, be it a delightful breakfast toast, a base for sandwiches, or simply enjoyed with a cup of coffee.


  • 1 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg, for egg wash


  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, until frothy.
  2. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.
  3. Gradually add the flour and salt, mixing until a soft dough forms.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Punch down the dough and form it into two round loaves. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and let rise again for about 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  8. Brush the loaves with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped.
  9. Let the bread cool on a wire rack before slicing.


  • Ensure your milk is warm, not hot, to activate the yeast without killing it. The ideal temperature is around 110°F.
  • Kneading Technique: Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. This develops the gluten, giving the bread its soft texture.
  • Experiment with adding a bit more lemon zest or even a touch of orange zest for a citrusy twist to your Pão Doce.
  • The dough should be slightly sticky but manageable. If it’s too sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time during kneading.
  • Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. Cutting into hot bread can cause it to be doughy or collapse.

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