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portuguese sweet bread (massa sovada)

(14 ratings)
Blue Ribbon Recipe by
Tara Pacheco
Fall River, MA

Nowhere else can make a sweet bread loaf like my hometown of Fall River, MA. It is a traditional recipe that is known to be brought over from the immigrants of São Miguel. This bread is most popular at Easter but enjoyed year-round. I like to have mine for breakfast with a little butter added to it. But, it is also served as dessert. This recipe is adapted from my local paper for "Easter sweet bread". For the holidays, a boiled egg is placed in the center of the loaf. I remember as a child, not being able to wait to get to the egg. So I would just dig in for it! :)

Blue Ribbon Recipe

Massa Sovada is a sweet Portuguese bread made with yeast dough. Once baked, it's light and moist with a beautiful golden brown color. This is a traditional recipe reminiscent of the sweet bread you'd find in Portuguese bakeries. This homemade bread is addictive and delicious. We thought it's best served warm, but it will stay fresh wrapped in plastic for a few days. It also makes several loaves. Freeze some or give them as gifts.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
(14 ratings)
yield 8 small loaves, 4 medium, or 2 large
prep time 8 Hr
cook time 40 Min
method Bake

Ingredients For portuguese sweet bread (massa sovada)

  • 3 pkg
    dry active yeast
  • 1/2 c
    lukewarm water
  • 2 c
  • 2 c
  • 1/2 c
  • 1/2 c
  • 3/4 tsp
  • 10 c
    all-purpose flour
  • 8 lg
  • 1 lg
  • 1 tsp

How To Make portuguese sweet bread (massa sovada)

Test Kitchen Tips
This is an extraordinarily sticky dough which is abnormal for most yeast doughs. People are tempted to add more flour when kneading because most yeast doughs lose most of their stickiness when it's done kneading. This is a sweet dough so it won't lose its stickiness.
  • Flour and salt in a bowl.
    Mix together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Melting butter and shortening.
    In a small saucepan, melt butter and shortening in milk over medium heat. Cool to lukewarm.
  • Yeast dissolving in water.
    While cooling, dissolve the yeast in water and let rise to double in size.
  • Combining eggs and sugar.
    Beat eggs and sugar together.
  • Mixing ingredients into yeast.
    When the yeast has risen, mix all ingredients together.
  • Kneading the dough.
    Knead until dough lifts out of the bowl.
  • Dough, in a bowl, ready to rise.
    Place in a clean large bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise, usually six to eight hours.
  • Punching the dough.
    Punch down, deflating the dough.
  • Dough formed into four balls.
    Form individual bread loaves and put them in buttered and floured pans (most any shape or size will do). The dough should fill only half the pan.
  • Dough rising for a second time.
    Let rise again until dough doubles in size, filling the pan.
  • Brushing dough with an egg.
    Brush top of dough with beaten egg.
  • Massa Sovada baking in the oven.
    Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes (adjust longer cook time for larger loaves).
  • Portuguese Sweet Bread (Massa Sovada) baked until golden.
    The bread should be golden brown.