Portuguese sweet bread (Massa Sovada or simply Massa, Pão Doce. This light and airy sweet bread is usually made during Christmas and Easter. It’s also enjoyed throughout the year at breakfast, during meals and even served as a dessert. Some Sweet Breads made during Easter are called Folar de Pascoa. A hard boiled egg is cooked in the dough to signify the rebirth of Christ.There are many variations of this bread. Some recipes call for raisins, lemon zest, rum or whiskey to intensify the flavor.
This bread has maintained its popularity and it’s tradition within the Portuguese Immigrant communities in the United States. The first Portuguese immigrants came from the Azores and settled on the East Coast of Southern New England to work in the fishing and whaling industry during the late 18th century. One century later, another group of immigrants settled on the West Coast in the San Fransisco Bay area to work in the dairy and farming industry.
By the late 19th century, more had immigrated to Hawaii to work in the sugarcane fields.
The Kona Historical Society in Hawaii has an interesting page dedicated to Portuguese Stone Oven Baking of Portuguese Sweet Bread.
Watch the video below of actual baking in an authentic (Forno) brick oven.
A warning to you though, you won’t stop eating this bread! Enjoy!
6 to 7 cups flour
2 and 1/2 packages of dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1 stick margarine
1 tablespoon salt
4 Jumbo eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp (whiskey – aguardente) (or zest of one lemon if you want lemon flavored bread)
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Heat milk, but do not scald. Remove from heat and stir in margarine until melted. Add sugar, salt and mix. Let the milk cool down.
Meanwhile Make yeast starter by mixing packages of yeast with ¼ cup of warm water and ¼ tsp of sugar. Stir yeast until dissolved and let it rest until you see bubbles activating.
Beat eggs for a few minutes then add to the milk in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to the milk along with the whiskey and beat for 2 minutes.
Begin adding the flour 1 cup at a time until it’s all incorporated. Use your dough hooks or your hands to knead for about 10 minutes. The batter should be very silky and smooth but not sticky. Add more flour if you find the dough sticky.
Remove dough from mixer, place on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and soft.Place the dough into a large floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours or until doubled.
After the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise for 30 minutes longer. Place your dough on a floured surface and form your bread either into a braid, loaf or mini buns.
Let the dough rise for another hour or in a warm oven for about 20 minutes or until almost double.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Brush tops of the bread with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the heat to 300 and cook for 30 minutes longer until the bread has a golden caramel color.
Note:: Do not over bake since it may get the bread dry.
Mini buns cook in less time, approximately 45 minutes.
You may find oven temps will vary, adjust accordingly.
Makes approximately 2 loaves, 1 large braid or 12 buns