portuguese sweet bread rolls in a pie tin

Grandma's Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

From the fragrance of the proofing yeast to the dough rising and then baking into golden brown loaves, this family tradition – above all others – is my favorite. Nothing compares to a slice of sweet bread, still warm from the oven and topped by a pat of real butter.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword homemade sweet bread, sweet bread recipe, traditional portuguese sweet bread recipe
Prep Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 20 servings
Calories 80 kcal
Author Kris Bordessa


  • 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup granulated organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and still hot
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 7 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Mix sugar, hot milk, butter, and salt together in a large bowl, stirring until butter melts. When cooled to lukewarm, beat in eggs and yeast mixture. Gradually beat 5 cups of flour into liquid to make a smooth dough.
  2. If you have a stand mixer that will handle this amount of dough, you can use that to shorten the process. Simply complete above steps in your mixer bowl and let your dough hook do the kneading for you.
  3. To knead by hand, heavily flour a board with a portion of the remaining flour. Turn dough out onto board and sprinkle with remaining flour. Knead until very smooth, adding flour to eliminate stickiness as necessary. You should see small "blisters" of air on the surface of the dough. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Consider it your workout for the day.
  4. Place dough in a large buttered bowl. Cover loosely with a towel and put in a warm place until doubled in size (about two hours).

    portuguese sweet bread dough, in process: Mixing, rising, punching down
  5. Punch down dough (it will collapse). Using buttered hands, form dough into desired loaves. You can divide dough into two large loaves or try them as smaller rolls. Or you can try the pie pan method you see used by the historical society.

  6. Place your formed loaves and a buttered cookie sheet or in a buttered pie pan. Cover loaves and set in a warm place to rise again for about an hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Baking time will vary a bit depending upon loaf size.

  7. Optional: Use a pastry brush to baste milk over the loaves just as they start to brown. This will give them a beautiful shiny glow.

To make Portuguese sweet bread rolls:

  1. Turn dough onto floured surface. Divide dough in two. Form each half loosely into a two-inch log. Cut log into two-inch lengths. 

  2. Roll dough into balls. Place onto a buttered cookie sheet or in a buttered pie pan, not quite touching. 

  3. Cover rolls and set in a warm place to rise again for about an hour. 

    risen Portuguese sweet bread rolls
  4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 

    baked portuguese sweet bread rolls