Massa Sovada (Portuguese Sweet Bread)

Hi All!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter/Passover weekend.  I had a busy and fun weekend, which included tackling this recipe and Harry Potter!  For my birthday in early March, my boyfriend gave me Broadway tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which I was so ecstatic about!  I’m a huge, huge Harry Potter fan, so this was certainly a treat.  The show was this past Saturday, and it was an all day, two-part show.  All of this to say that I wasn’t left with too much time to make this sweet bread by Sunday Easter brunch, but somehow I mustered up the energy and time to do it!

Massa sovada, literally translated to “kneaded dough,” is a Portuguese sweet bread and is traditionally made during Easter and also during the Holy Spirit festivals, which typically take place seven weeks after Easter.  I grew up eating this bread, and although I remember my Grandma Teodora and her sisters making this at home, my really vivid memory of eating massa sovada was during the Holy Spirit festivals in early summer.  At the Portuguese Hall in Idaho, where the festivals were held, I remember during the Saturday and Sunday festivities, there would be plates of this sweet bread spread out on the tables for all to eat.  I would devour that bread, it was so good!

I also remember eating mass sovada in the Azores.  I think it was the year I was 17 years old, visiting family, and my aunt had bought a few loaves from a lady in the village who made wonderful, large loaves of this sweet bread.  My cousin, sister, and I would sit around the kitchen table in the evening, with a cup of hot tea, sweet bread and butter, and it was heaven.

It’s safe to say I have very fond memories of massa sovada, and that makes it that much sweeter (pun intended).  I’m really happy with how this bread turned out, and not only because it’s certainly intimidating to make any bread, but this bread holds such special memories for me, so I wanted to do it right.  There are many different versions of this recipe, and the results are usually very similar to one another, but this one is my Grandma’s, so I’m a little biased!  🙂  Enjoy and until next week!

Yields: 2 loaves

Yeast Mixture:

1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup water


8 eggs
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
zest from 1 lemon
8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 stick and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup of warm milk and water
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)




1) For the yeast mixture, beat egg and sugar in a small bowl until smooth and creamy.  Add mashed potatoes, flour, and yeast, and mix together well.  Add water, and mix.  The mixture will not be wet; it will be more fluffy and stiff.  Cover the bowl tightly, set aside and allow to rise for one hour.

2) For the dough, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, and add lemon zest.  Next, add flour, powdered sugar, and yeast mixture.  Knead dough until ingredients are well incorporated into one another, and then add butter.  Continue kneading.  Add salt and brandy.  The dough should be a soft consistency.  Use cup of warm milk and water to make it softer, if necessary.  If it becomes too sticky, add flour as needed.

3) Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a dry, room-temperature area. Allow dough to rise for approximately 6-7 hours.

4) Punch the dough down, deflating the bread, form into individual round loaves, and place into buttered pans.  The dough should fill only half of the pan.  Cover and let rise again for another hour.

5) Preheat oven to 325°. Brush top of bread with egg wash, cut a cross in the center, and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven.  Bake until golden brown.