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Portuguese Sweetbread

Ann's sweetbread
Any special celebration would not be complete unless there was sweetbread to enjoy.
I can honesty say that making sweetbread was the hardest for me to learn.  I couldn’t understand why I could bake bread but had such a difficult time with
sweetbread. It wasn’t until my aunt explained that sweetbread dough is supposed to be wetter than the usual bread dough and she hit it on the nail: I had been adding more flour because I thought the dough was too wet.
That explains why my the loaves were heavy and not light! But that’s how we learn, and most important we don’t give up!!
Here’s a recipe of sweetbread from my friend Ann’s family..

SweetBread (Massa Souvada)
6-8 loaves…**depending on the size of baking pans
Prep time: 8 hr
Cook time: 40 min

1/2 cup of shortening (or lard)
3 pkg ( 1/4 oz envelopes) dry active yeast
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 tsp salt
10 cups of all purpose flour
8 eggs * at room temperature

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon of water

1 In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water and let rise to double in size.
2 In a larger bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
3. In saucepan, melt butter and shortening in milk and cool to lukewarm.
4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.
5. Create a well in the large bowl of dry ingredients, add the eggs and sugar, melted butter and milk and last add the yeast. Mix all ingredients together and knead until dough is nice and smooth (at least 20 min). Dough tends to be on the wet side so resist the urge to add much more flour. Let rise until double in size, usually six to eight hours.
6. Punch down, deflating the dough. Form individual breads and put in buttered and floured pans ( any shape or size will do).

The dough should fill only half the pan. Let rise again until dough doubles in size, filling the pan.

7. Brush top of dough with beaten egg.

8. Bake at 325 degrees-preheated oven for 40 to 60 minutes (adjust longer cook time for larger loaves).
The bread should be golden brown.

  • Donna Marie DeMay

    Mmmm I love sweetbread. Lord knows how much money I spent determined to make this bread. And, like you, it just wouldn’t rise!!! I was searching online one day, and saw that I’d made the yeast with watet that was too hot, and also that it was be wet! LOL Followed a new recipe and it was de-lish!

    • ewakane1

      I find if to keep track of the freshness of the yeast. if it’s older than 4-6 mos. isn’t as effective..
      Also you might want to try yeast that is specifically designed for Sweet-type breads, ie. Massa,Brioche, and Challlah. etc.

      try LeSeffert Gold Label yeast it is what is called a Osmotolerent yeast it can tolerate the higher sugar content of sweet breads and sweet roll dough…NOrmal Red label will kill the bloom as will to hot of water.. I use an instant read thermometer and make sure not to go over 110 deg F. but not below 105deg F. just FYI.

  • Skyler

    Just baking some now. My grandmother (Vavoa) was from the Azores and I loved her sweet bread. I’ve been making it for several years now, with varying degrees of success. My experience is much like yours as is the recipe, although Vavoa baked at 250. I learned that I had to triple the amount of yeast she used, I’m not sure why, but it took a long time to figure that out.

    I think your eight hour estimate is off. It takes six to eight hours for just the first round of rising the bread. I learned I had to break the recipe into thirds or my mixer would over heat. It still struggles at that. Vavoa used to do it all by hand. She was quite a hard worker.

    • ewakane1

      I live in Hawai’i and make Pāo Doce/Massa Souvada and because of the climate and humidity I had to adjust the proof times and liquid measurements from growing up in California, and I would assume it would take longer to proof on the colder parts of the North and Northeast. Just to keep prespective of any recipe adj. are usually a guarantee.

      In Hawaii the good thing is proofing time is like half what I did in the winter in California. sometimes as fast as 1-2 hrs. so trial and error seem best till you get it to work for your location.