The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Portuguese Sweet Bread

saraugie's picture

Portuguese Sweet Bread

This formula came out great, really nice taste. However, it is way different than what we buy in the store. This is more of a sandwich type bread with a dense crumb. I wonder how I can get it to be soft like the kind we buy at the bakeries here in Hawaii ? Anyone know ?

del's picture

I also remember the Portuguese Sweet Bread here in Hawaii a long time ago. Like Lucky Luck breaking Leonard's Bakery Pao Duce in half on his T.V. Show eons ago...


Sadly, Leonard's doesn't make that kinda bread anymore. King's Bakery did before they moved out of Hawaii and got all corporate --- and now King's Bakery Portuguese Sweet bread tastes pretty bad --- overly sweet and doughy. Same with Ani's Sweet Bread found at Costco/Sam's Club here in Honolulu.


The only bakery in my mind that is closest to what I remember is the Portuguese Sweet Bread at Liliha's Bakery. It is very close to the old styled Leonard's.


Peter R.'s Portuguese Sweet Bread has too thick a crust for me and is not pillow soft. His sweet dough should not be taking 2 hours plus to rise!!! (This is no lean artisian dough after all. Time is not needed to develop any flavor.) Out of all the recipes in BBA, this was my only total disappointment.


Anyway after going thru tons of flour experimenting with most turning out to be bird food, about 3 years ago I finally got it right! The Portuguese Sweet Bread that I came up with has the flavor and texture that brings back all the memories of my eating it during childhood growing up here in Hawaii.


I also use this same dough with slight variations to make a baked manapua (char sui bao) that is better than that baked manapua at Royal Kitchen at Chinatown here in Honolulu. Though I've never tried it, you should be able to fill it also with sweet azuki beans to make an "an pan" Japanese sweet roll.


When I next bake this Portuguese Sweet bread I'll take pictures of the whole process (3 1/2 hours from start to eating) and post the recipe. It is time for my baby to go out into the world...







saraugie's picture

Did you know the original owners sold about 2 years ago ? However, the new owners are using the same recipes for the three things we buy the most. Sweet Bread, 'French' style apple pie with crumb topping and of course, what they are most famous for Coco Puffs. All still great. I used a similar recipe as Peter R.'s and it came out exactly as you described.

If you would be willing I'd sure love to try your formula.

del's picture

I'm planning to make a whole bunch of Portuguese Sweet Bread for the the mothers coming over this Mother's Day. Also doing baked manapua (Char Sui Bao) buns with the same dough (with slight modifications.)

Will try and take pics of everything and the important steps involved. Will post it here sometime after Mother's Day....



MickiColl's picture

I have a recipe I cut out of the Honolulu Advertiser sometime back in the 70's. willing to share with anyone that's interested. Not sure how to scan it and get in this blog .. but I will try if you want it

It is authentic and not the  plastic Kings Hawaiian bread you get in the stores nowadays.

need to bake's picture
need to bake


thanks, trying for the King's of the 1970s

breadmantalking's picture

I would love the recipe

thanks in advance


Ewabaker1's picture

I am sorry brah, but I think your wrong on Leonard's no longer making sweet bread, I bought Pao Doce over Thanksgiving and Christmas for french toast.  Kapahulu bakery makes both large and small loaves still!  But I am with you nothing like making Homemade massa sovada. I usually make my Vovo's 6 generations Azores recipe!  Great with the left over Ham in little Ham sliders.

del's picture

The Pao Duce (Portugese Sweet Bread) that Leonard's is currently selling is not the same bread they baked small kid time back in the late 50's. I lived like two blocks away (Lincoln Ave.) from Leonard's on Kapahulu Ave.

The closest I've found to what I recall from childhood is the current sweet bread at Liliha Bakery. Pretty yummy that one.

If you'd like to share your recipe, I'd be willing to try it out and report back.




MickiColl's picture

in Dec I posted a recipe that was from the Honolulu Advertiser/Star Bulletin sometime mid 50's. it was suposedly Leonard's recipe. I've made it and tho it is labor intensive it sure  tastes/looks/feels like the real thing. just do a search, here, for Hawaiian Portugese Sweet Bread. and please, if you make it let me now what you think. if you have a problem reading it, e mail me: and I will send it to you ..

Aloha, MIcki

saraugie's picture

Looking forward to seeing your work.

hanseata's picture

I also experimented a lot to adapt European recipes to American ingredients. To achieve a soft, "fluffy" crumb like in typical German rolls (which are not like soft dinner rolls), bread flour and even all-purpose does not work. I found that for substituting a soft wheat low protein flour like the German 405 or Italian 00, white (unbleached) pastry flour works quite well.

hanseata's picture

I also experimented a lot to adapt European recipes to American ingredients. To achieve a soft crumb like in typical German rolls (which are not like soft dinner rolls), bread flour and even all-purpose does not work. I found that for substituting a soft wheat low protein flour like the German 405 or Italian 00, white (unbleached) pastry flour works quite well. Maybe it's worth a try.

But I'm also pretty sure that in store bought breads are lots of chemicals to guarantee a longer shelf life, and what not. Many bakeries get their flours ready mixed for certain breads, with plenty of additives. Therefore I would not expect my home made bread to look exactly like a store bought one (unless it's a real artisan bakery).

del's picture

Hmmm. Wouldn't a "softer" flour make for a cake-like internal structure?


I want bread to be bread with pull apart strands. To achieve my pillow like softness in my Portuguese Sweet Bread, I use bread flour, powdered dry milk and instant mash potato flakes.



saraugie's picture

Would cake flour be even better ?

del's picture

Use bread flour. The "softness" that is being referred to is the finished bake, not the actual protein content of the hard/soft flour.


Bread flour is important for this Portuguese Sweet Bread.




del's picture

I will be making this bread this Sunday (Mother's Day) and will take pictures then. I thought though that it may be a good idea to post the recipe now in case anyone wants to try it to give something to their mothers. If you follow this recipe precisely, you can not go wrong.



1. Instead of listing all the ingredients at the start (mise en place) I'll just describe the process as I would bake. Every time I tried, my "mise en place" turns to be instead "messes all over the place". I don't bake like that. Plus I hate washing dishes.

2. Every ingredient is listed in weights with baker's percentage added. You will need an accurate scale.

3. Yeast - You will need to get ahold of an osmotolerant yeast. I use SAF-Instant in the  Gold Package. (Lasaffre brand yeast made in Mexico of all places.) In Honolulu, you can pick this up at Executive Chef at Ward Shopping Center for under $5. This is one pound Saf Gold yeast. If you ask for "SAF GOLD" the clerks won't know what you are talking about. Just ask where the yeasts are. Look for the GOLD background bag. They also carry the plain SAF Red background bag yeast which isn't what you want. Again, you want the SAF GOLD bag which is an osmotolerant yeast. Under $5, 1 lb.

4. You will need plastic bags for these loaves after they finish cooling. It is really important to bag your loaves to prevent drying out the bread. (Hydration pre-baked is around 67%.) It also makes for a very professional look when you give these things away. The plastic bags I use measure 10.5 inches by 15 inches.

5. The weights given will make three loaves of 19oz. (540 grams) each pre-baked. This comes out to around 1 lb baked per loaf. The whole process takes 3 1/2 hours start till eating.

6. KitchenAid (KA) Mixer speeds are given as actual speeds --- like the first speed is when it comes on, and the second speed is what follows etc. I don't use the KA's speed numbers printed on the mixer cause they don't make sense to me. There are eight "real" speeds on my KA mixer.


Authentic Hawaiian Style Portuguese Sweet Bread


1 egg (optional for egg wash)

115 grams Unsalted Butter (15.3%)

210 grams White Sugar (30%)


If you want to egg wash, then leave an egg out on the counter for later on.

In your mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a paddle attachment at the 3rd KA speed until about doubled in volume. I just keep my mixer running constantly while I proceed thru this recipe. Also I am lazy and just take my bulk butter out of the refrig and plunk it in the mixer chopped up and ice cold. The mixer bowl will start to sweat on the outside (condensation) but this won't harm anything. If you decide to warm up your refrigerated cold butter, the butter must be bendable (yes BENDABLE like clay) in order to cream with sugar correctly. If your butter is soft (like what you'd spread on your toast) then it simply won't cream right. Using it straight out of the refrig insures things go right as the butter warms up while creaming with sugar.


285 grams BOILING water (38%)

40 grams Instant Dry Milk (5%)

40 grams Instant Mash Potato Flakes (5%)


In a small sauce pan, boil the water. Once it is rolling boiling, add in the dry milk and whisk. Remove from heat and whisk in the instant mash potato flakes till everything is nicely blended.


220 grams Whole Eggs, Ice Cold straight from Refrig (29%)

10 grams Vanilla Extract (1.3%)

5 grams total Lemon/Orange Extract (0.6%) Optional but then again so is Caviar in Life...

(The extracts come out to 1/2 teaspoon of Lemon only, or 1/4 teaspoon each of Lemon/Orange extract, or 1/2 teaspoon of Orange only --whatever you got available)


Hand whisk the ice cold eggs into the hot potato/milk mixture. The coldness of the eggs should bring down the temperature of the mixture to a safe level for your yeast additions later on.  Whisk in the extracts. Set aside.


295 grams BREAD flour (39%)

17 grams Osmotolerant Yeast like SAF GOLD (2.2%) --this is around 5 teaspoons of yeast


Stop your mixer that is running creaming the butter and sugar. By this time, it should have doubled in volume and be almost pure white in color. Tare and then add in your flour and then put the SAF GOLD yeast on top. Using the same paddle attachment, mix at a lower 2nd KA speed till well blended. Now, while the mixer is still on, add in the now lukewarm (if it's not, then wait for it to cool down some) mixture from your saucepan (milk/potato/egg/extract mix) all at once into the mixer bowl. It will all be extremely soupy. Slowly increase the speed of the KA mixer to the highest speed that will not splatter the soupy mixture out of the bowl. You will be slowly increasing the speed as you see the gluten developing. Overall mixing time is 5 minutes. When I do it, I can almost get to the 8th KA speed by the time 5 minutes is up.

This is my lazy man's "sponge" method. Again, your gluten developement will allow you to increase the speed of the KA mixer higher and higher and this is so important!


455 grams BREAD flour (60%)

7 grams Nutmeg, finely ground (1%. optional. comes out to 1 teaspoon. Also some brands got lots of bran in it so sifting thru a tea cage may be necessary. Or just skip adding nutmeg altogether.)


Place the flour and optional finely ground nutmeg on top of your lazy man's sponge you just created. Now using the detached paddle attachment that you got in your hand,  work this flour into the soupy mixture completely. If you don't do this then you risk splattering  flour all over your kitchen when you first turn on the mixer! Place paddle attachment back on mixer and then knead for 5 minutes at the 3th KA speed. Yes, use a paddle attachment, not the kneading hook at this point (faster).


7 grams salt non-iodinized (1%) --about 1 teaspoon


Odd as it sounds, NOW ADD THE SALT on top of the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl and off the paddle with a spatula. Replace paddle with a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes at a slower 2nd KA speed


Place the dough in a large plastic bowl and use your hands to briefly knead into a nice ball (boule) in the bowl. If you've done everything right, the dough WILL NOT STICK to the plastic bowl at all.


Cover and let rist for 1 hour in a warm place till about doubled in size. Then divide into 3 equal sizes of around 19 ounces each (540 grams) and then pre-shape into loose balls. Bench rest 20 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degree F. (177 degree C.)


Final shape into taut balls/boules and place each into an oil sprayed 9 inch pie pan tin. Cover each with an overturned large plastic bowl for about one hour until dough is just touching the sides of the 9 inch pie pan (dough may be more than doubled in size at this point).


Optional Step:

Take your room temperature egg and whisk completely. Egg wash the tops of the balls/boules being extremely carefull not to let any egg wash drip into the pie pan itself as this will bake into a hard unappetizing mess. I use my hands to do the egg wash. Again do not drip any egg wash into the pie pan!


Once oven is heated correctly and the dough is just touching all sides of its 9 inch pie pan, place the pans on the lowest rack in your oven and bake for exactly 25 minutes. You are looking for a graduated colored crust with dark brown at the top and lightening to almost a pale yellow near the bottom of the loaf next to the pie pan. This graduated coloring has good eye appeal and also insures that the bread itself is not over baked.


Cool in pie pans for at least 45 minutes then remove round loaf from pie pan. Immediately place in a plastic bag and seal lightly. I just turn under my overly long bag beneath my loaf. It seals itself because of static clinginess. If you notice excessive condensation inside the bag, simply open up the bag until it evaporates then reseal immediately.


It is important that you don't let the loafs just sit out. You need to bag the breads to insure a pillow softness texture to the breads that Hawaiian Style Portuguese Sweet Bread is known for. After ripping off a piece of bread (really best way to eat it), replace loaf back in bag and seal to retain moisture and freshness.


You will be amazed at how these loaves turn out. Only use SAF GOLD yeast. Bag the cooled bread. And hide it from people when they come over --these breads are just too good to share!



This recipe is my baby that I'm now releasing out into the world...





del's picture

I keep playing around with this Hawaiian Style Portuguese Sweet Bread adding in tips and pointers as an afterthought.


I'm now satisfied with how it is and won't fool with it anymore.


Pictures of the bread and other stuffs will be posted next week sometime after I recuperate from Mother's Day (four mothers will be here tomorrow.)


Happy Mother's Day to the most important people around!




Prodius's picture

I would love to have the receipy to the bread in the picture and instruction.  is my email



del's picture

We had six mothers over for Mother's Day. Kinda fun...

I made two batches of the above recipe. Made three round loaves and also around two dozen char sui bao buns (sweet bread filled with chinese char sui.) Half way thru making the second batch, my recent purchased Kitchen Aid (that in itself replaced an older KA5 mixer) broke --I had to manually knead the dough (at around 67% hydration).


19 ounces of dough proofed until just touching the sides of the 9 inch pie pan, egg washed and ready for oven. Despite appearances, this dough is very strong and is not over proofed at all. It gets its strenght thru the lazy man poolish method (see recipe). In the background you can see the moms rolling out 60 grams of dough to make char sui bao and placing them on a half size baking sheet.


Bagging is very important to preserve softness and moisture


Pillow soft and yummy!


Sweet Bread buns filled with Chinese sweet meat (char sui bao) final proof. Scale dough at 60 grams each then about two tablespoons char sui filling mix.



Char Sui Bao straight out of the oven! Note that graduated crust coloring that adds eye appeal. This is also present on the larger one pound round loaves.


In order to bake consistently, one really must WEIGHT YOUR INGREDIENTS and not use undependable volume measuring (cups.)


This recipe will produce outstanding Portuguese Sweet Bread for you. Any questions I'll be happy to assist. If you are in Honolulu, we can get together and do a bake.



saraugie's picture

Del, they came out perfect looking and I'm sure taste excellent too.  Two questions for you.  1. You think potato flour substituted for instant potato flakes would work ?  2. Char Siu Bao looks fantastic too.  Would you share the recipe ?

del's picture

I just get the char sui from Sam's Club cuz I'm usually there anyway. They sell better ones at Market City in Kapahulu. I dunno the name of the chinese place but it's right next to Fun Factory. I don't like going to Chinatown anymore (pee-pee smells everywhere.)

So get some char sui meat. Then cook some round onions, green onions, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce plus salt pepper to taste. Cook down till no liquid remains.


Picture of ingredients before reduction:


Don't need all that much --- about two tablespoons filling per bun (scale dough to 60 grams each, flatten into disk, add filling then bundle up and shape into taut ball. Proof 60 minutes.)


Dont use potato flour. Use the Instant Mash Potato Flakes. It 's pretty cheap. Safeway got them. Times Supermarket too. All over the place. This substitutes for the potato water used in the original recipes.


This Portuguese Bread comes out better than most anything out there. Ditto with the buns... (better than Royal Kitchen's Baked Manapua). It took me tons of flour to perfect and about two years of experimenting to come down to what you see above.


I'm fanatical about this bread mainly because it took a good chunk out of my life to perfect.


Let me know how it turns out for you.




saraugie's picture

Got the SAF Gold already, do you buy your bags locally ?

I have to tell Del, your instructions are so very detailed, it must have taken you a long time to compose it, thank you.  I can't wait to make it and feel if I follow what you wrote I'll get it right.  Instant potato flakes it is.

del's picture

It's a Japanese run and a Japanese shop selling all kinds of plastic bags and crafts stuffs. Sorta like Sanrios but more wholesale oriented. I asked once if their bags were okay for food use and they said NO.


...but here I am, still alive (just barely tho').


Okay, just found it:


Heiko Inc.

517 Ahui St., (off ward avenue)

ph. 591-8672


I got the crystal clear bags 10.5 inches by 15 inches. Once the round loaves are inside, I fold over the long end of the bag under and it sticks due to static cling (but you could use scotch tape to seal it nice if you wanted.) Take a tape measure if you want what I use as all their stuffs are in Japanese and in metric.


Aside: Funny thing about Japanese nationals. They got this old school samurai type attitude and the boss there (Heiko's) won't smile at you and is silent and unfriendly. Just stares at you whilst you are shopping. His female sales staff (prolly "servants" in his mind) though are pretty nice and sweet.


Another time saving tip: In the recipe, I give the potato flakes and the dry instant non-fat milk in grams ---just use 1/4 cup each. I gave the grams to be consistent thruout the recipe. But it's really just 1/4 cup each of instant mash potato flakes and instant non-fat milk. Also you are adding the dry milk to rolling boiling water to kill off any enzyme present that would lessen the effects of your yeast additions later on.


The addition of the instant potato flakes to this hot mixture will partially cook the flakes (on purpose). Finally with the cold eggs addition to this hot mix, it's actually like making a custard of sorts. All this adds to the softness of the final bread product (secret info.)




cake diva's picture
cake diva



I can't wait for holiday vacation to try your Hawaiian bread and the char sui bao.

Would you also happen to have a recipe for the steamed buns?  I'm crazy about those, but where I live, you can't get them.

cake diva

Ewabaker1's picture

Aloha Del,

I was just wondering why the potato flakes? and can you use Potato flour not potato starch?  I have some potato flour that I got to make some "spudnut" donuts. anyways is there a logic for one over the other and can I use potato flour instead???




del's picture

I've never tried using potato flour in lieu of potato flakes. Try it both ways and report back what you prefer.



Laura Waterman Wittstock's picture
Laura Waterman ...

I also grew up in Honolulu. My high school: Kaimuki is a short walking distance to Leonard's. But we got our pao duce from the lady across the street on 21st Avenue. I don't know her name or her background. But she made that old fashioned kind of bread that would be unrecognizable in the stores today. I'm going to try the recipe.


vlubarsky's picture


i think of you every Easter as I make your wonderful bread.  Never had it fail!



DanAyo's picture

I haven't seen any activity from you in a long time. I want to thank you for taking the time to detail your recipe and methods. I followed your instructions to the "Tee" and the bread came out absolutely outstanding.

After baking this bread, I have no intentions of investigating any other recipes for Hawaiian Sweet Bread. I really don't think that this recipe can be improved upon.
This recipe is a keeper... 

And, by-the-way; I did use the SAF Gold. I learned that SAF Gold is made for rising sweet breads. I ordered it just to bake this bread.

Dan Ayo

Bantydee's picture

My mom worked for Leonard , she met my dad there.  When they made the bread with his recipe, it was left to rise all night.  The dough is very heavy.  The recipe my grandmother handed down was for a week of bread and used a dozen eggs ,and basically a 5 lb bag of flour.  It made 9 loaves. Even halved or quartered, it's hard to get it to rise, so 2 hours doesn't sound long.