Portuguese Sweet Bread Recipe

April 5, 2020

Portuguese Sweet Bread

I grew up making this bread every year with my Grandmother and Mom. It’s dreamy eaten fresh out of the oven as is, or toasted with butter. When we baked it this year, we tasted it alongside a glass of the 2016 Sparkling Chardonnay and thought it was a perfect pairing.
– Kelly Mariani


Sweet Bread

1/2 cup warm water

2 packets or 4 1/2 teaspoons, dry yeast

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, softened, plus more for greasing

4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds

1/8 tsp mace or nutmeg



1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon water


Put the warm water into the bowl of a mixer, and sprinkle with the yeast. Let the yeast soak and bloom for 5 minutes. Add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs and butter and mix briefly with the paddle attachment to combine. It will look chunky and sloshy here, that’s okay! Add 2 cups of flour and mix on low until it becomes a wet dough, roughly 15 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to wipe down the sides of the bowl, switch to the dough hook attachment and slowly add more flour. You want the dough to come together and pull away freely from the sides. Let the machine work the dough on medium for about 5 minutes. 

Lay dough out on the counter top and knead for a few more minutes with your hands. If the dough is sticking, knead in more flour. At this point, the dough should be smooth, silky and springy. Stop kneading when you can poke the dough and it bounces back. Put the dough in a buttered mixing bowl, cover with a warm damp towel, and leave to rise in a warm place, until it has doubled in size, roughly 2 hours. Using two fingers poke the bread and the indentation should stay, that symbolizes your first rising is done. Punch down the dough, pull in the edges and flip the dough over in the bowl. Cover again with the damp towel, and let rise again, until it doubles in size, about 40 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. After the second rise, pour the dough back onto the counter and knead in all the additions: lemon zest, raisins, almonds and mace. Cut the dough into 4 even pieces. Roll 3 pieces into about 12 inch long strands. Divide the fourth piece again into three even pieces and roll into about 10 inch long strands. If the strands are springing back when you try to roll them out, let them rest for about 5 minutes to allow the gluten to relax before rolling. Place the three long strands, about 1 inch apart, on a buttered sheet tray and braid them together. Pinch the ends so they don’t separate when baked. On your countertop, braid the three smaller strands together and rest on top of the large braid. For the final time, cover the braid with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Transfer the bread to a rack to cool. To make the frosting, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and water in a bowl and drizzle over the bread while warm.