Homemade Hawaiian Sweet Bread

Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls

by Holly on August 4, 2012

So, apparently, this recipe is really of Portuguese origin. Why it is then called Hawaiian Sweet Bread, I’m not sure, but my guess would be because it has been adopted widely and is an integral part of the local culture there. That’s just conjecture, but I did find so many options – some with citrus, some without, some made with potatoes, some with ginger, or pineapple – that I think it supports my theory that there are many versions out there and adding one more to the mix won’t hurt!

I’m still in a bit of a bread heaven coma, so that’s my story and I’m sticking too it.

By no means am I implying this is the most authentic version – but my impression from what my online research showed was that since there are as many versions as there are families that make it with their ‘traditional’ recipe that I could just kind of relax and go a little island style and go with the flow. I have another (non-citrusy) version I’ll be trying next and will let you know how that one goes!

This version of the bread is sweeter than usual and in this case is also citrus scented. It is soft and the only word to describe the texture is squigdy. It’s not a word. I don’t care. It’s that moist, cloud like texture of the softest rolls you can imagine. I am a total bread lover and usually love to put jam, butter, honey butter or something on my rolls. These rolls don’t need a single thing… except perhaps for a bit of privacy so you don’t feel entirely guilty when you realize you’ve just demolished an entire pan.

Yeah. That happened. Thank goodness the recipe makes two pans. One for me and one for dinner!

I’m not gonna lie. The recipe takes a while. Most of that time is completely passive prep (just waiting and waiting) but it adds to the texture and flavor, so just go with it. You can either start the dough in the morning and have rolls in time for dinner, or you can start it the early evening before and let the shaped rolls chill in the refrigerator overnight… you’ll still have to wait for them to rise and it will take a while, but if you start the following morning you could have rolls in time for a late brunch or lunch. The great thing is they can definitely be made ahead because they keep very nicely for a few days.


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sara August 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Yum, these rolls look totally fantastic – really delicious! 🙂

carrian January 31, 2013 at 9:56 am

These sound awesome!!!

Tammy Leialoha September 21, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi – The recipe looks great! You mention that you don’t know why it’s called Hawaiian bread. I am from Hawaii and many Portuguese immigrated there and a lot of their food is popular in the local cuisine now. When King’s Hawaiian opened its company – they called it Hawaiian bread (probably for marketing purposes). But most old-time locals still call it Portuguese sweet bread.

Sandra December 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

Wondering about the result of the non-citrus recipe, and if that is just omitting the citrus, but leaving the rest? help! I signed myself up for Christmas dinner. And my grandmother was full blooded Portuguese raised in Hawaii and made sweet bread regularly for us. YUM! but her receipe was for a very dense loaf, while I would prefer a fluffier roll.

Holly December 16, 2013 at 8:31 am

Hi Sandra! As I mentioned in the post there were tons of recipes. I just found a lot of them with citrus or even pineapple juice. I decided to try that recipe first. I haven’t had a chance to make the other recipe I wanted to try yet, but I’m pretty excited about it. It actually comes from a place on Kona that does lots of bread baking the traditional way. My guess is if there is a truly authentic version then that one would be it. I’m also thinking it will be denser, but possibly still fluffy (not sure!). If you try this one out before I do I’d love to know what you think. I think you’ll find the website and info interesting. I’ll also let you know what I think when I get a chance to make them!



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