Portuguese Sweet Bread


A favorite 1980s recipe from the popular “Ethnic is Now” booklet, a collaborative project with K-State University Baking Science Department, Wheat Foods Council, Kansas Wheat Commission and the National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation. Celebrations and holidays require this bread in Portugal.



1 ¼ cups warm water (110°F-115°F), divided
2 (¼ ounce) packages active dry yeast
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
5 ½ - 6 cups bread flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup dried currants, moistened, drained (optional)

Egg Wash & Topping

1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
Coarsely granulated sugar (optional)


  1. Place water in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle; stir in yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar and let proof 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in remaining sugar, dry milk and 2 ½ cups flour; beat on medium speed 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add salt, eggs and butter. Blend well. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough.
  4. Exchange paddle for dough hook; knead dough on slow speed 8-10 minutes. Transfer dough to greased bowl. Cover; let rise until doubled, 1- 1 ½ hours.
  5. Deflate dough; scale into 2 equal pieces.
  6. Caracois (snail loaf): Roll 1 dough half into a rope about 30 x 1 ½-inches. Twist rope and coil into greased round layer pan, 9 x 1 ½- inches, to form snail shape. Tuck end under loaf and seal.
  7. Tranca a tricana (braided loaf): Scale 1 dough half into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a 16-inch rope. Lay ropes side-by-side on greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Starting in middle and working out to each end, weave into braid. Pinch ends together; turn under loaf and seal.
  8. Cover; let rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  9. Near the end of the rise, preheat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, beat together egg and water. Brush loaf with beaten egg wash, covering the entire surface; if desired sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  10. Bake 30 - 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Bake braid until golden brown and internal temperature registers about 200° F. If braid is browning too fast, tent with foil the last few minutes to prevent over-browning.

Variation: If desired, work ¼ cup currants into 1 dough half. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. Shape dough as desired.

Yield: 2 loaves, 16 servings each.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING (1 SLICE, 49g): 150 calories, 35 calories  from fat, 4g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 24 g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 5g sugars, 4g protein, 50mcg folate, 0mg vitamin C, 1mg iron.