Portuguese Easter Bread- Folar de Pascoa

I’m so happy to finally be sharing a portuguese recipe with you! I often find it difficult to share recipes of portuguese desserts that I grew up with  because I have so many memories of them. These memories always include my grandpa, and most times it brings me to tears just thinking of him.  However, I also know that it would bring him so much joy to know that I am attempting to make and share all of the things that he made for so many decades, and brought so much happiness to others. So my goal from this point forward is to make and share all of the things that he made, that I loved so much, and share them here.
 This Easter bread is one of the things that I grew up with and love; it holds a very special place in my heart. Growing up I have very fond memories of going to my grandparents bakery and watching my grandpa make this bread. Their bakery was filled with hundreds of these beautiful easter loaves, among many other Easter treats. I remember he would always give each of us a small individual bread that was our own. I always enjoyed eating this bread for breakfast with a little bit of salted butter spread on it. This bread was always part of Easter for my family.
Last year, I tried to make this bread without much success, so this year I knew I had to make it, and I was not giving up until I had something that was perfect. The first thing I did was get on the phone with my grandma and find out if she had my grandpa’s recipe. She didn’t, as he made things without recipes, and in huge quantities, but she did give me a few clues. He used water, not milk as so many sweet bread recipes called for. Eggs, butter, lemon extract. I remember it having such a distinctive golden colour, and I was so shocked to find out that he put in a bit of food colour to enhance the yellow colour from the eggs. I’m telling you, I was so shocked! It was the one thing I was trying to achieve and never could! I opted to leave the food colouring out however.
So after quite a few tries, I finally got a recipe that I was happy with, albeit not exactly like his, it’s pretty close. I can’t wait to share this bread with my family this year, and I know he would be so proud knowing that this tradition will carry on in our family!
Folar de Pascoa- Portuguese Easter Bread
Makes 1 large bread, or 2 medium
1 cup (250ml) warm water, divided
1 tablespoon (11g) active dry yeast
3/4 cup (170g) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
750g (about 5 1/2 cups) all purpose flour (may need additional while kneading, about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4oz or 114g)  unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Egg Wash
1 large egg beaten
1/2 tablespoon water
Hard Boiled Eggs
4 Large eggs
Skin of 2 onions
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 warm water. Lightly sprinkle 1 tablespoon dry yeast over the mixture. Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until foamy.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, and cubed butter. Mix on low speed to combine. Add in the eggs, sugar, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, lemon extract, and yeast mixture. Mix on low speed to combine.  Mixture will be slightly wet. Switch to dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes. You may need to add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time during mixing if the dough feels too wet. You want to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, and tacky but not sticky.
3. Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil. Shape dough into a ball, put into the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draught free area (I put into my oven with light turned on), for about 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
3. Meanwhile, bring 4 eggs (brown or white), salt, and peel of 2 yellow onions to a boil in a medium saucepan. The onion skin acts as a natural way to colour the white eggs brown, or enhance a brown egg. Once boiling turn off heat and allow eggs to sit for about 10 minutes. Remove eggs from water, and reserve.
5. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If using a baking stone, put in oven to preheat, or brush an upside down baking sheet with butter or oil. Reserve a small amount of dough, about 1/2 cup, to make cross decoration. Knead the remaining dough a few times to get the air out. Shape into a circle and  gently press the unpeeled hardboiled eggs into the dough. Create 2 long, flat pieces of dough to place over the eggs. Place the dough strips over the eggs and press the ends into the round dough to create a cross.
6. Brush the entire top of the dough with the egg wash.
7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and there is a hollow sound when tapped. Set aside to cool.
Storage: 3 days wrapped at room temperature, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month
Enjoy and Good Luck!
  • Lisa Henderson

    Should the bread be refrigerated? Or does the egg not get eaten?

    • http://www.portuguesegirlcooks.com/ Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Lisa, the bread should not be refrigerated. The eggs are fine at room temperature because they are hard boiled. Hope that helps!

  • Margie Garrison Scott

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’m like you; I miss my grandmother’s Portuguese Easter bread with the eggs cooked in their little bread baskets. My recipe is a little bit different than yours. I add lemon extract but also a little bit of orange extract. My husband has been the one who keeps the tradition going at our house each year. At Easter he loves to make it. He’s not Portuguese but really enjoys Portuguese cooking. Have a happy & blessed Easter and thanks again for sharing your recipe.

  • kate roseiro

    Hello Jessica!

    I definitely want to try to make this bread to surprise my husband who is Portuguese.

    Do you think your grandfather used food coloring to make the bread more golden as a way to make it more like the cakes and pastries in Portugal. I am asking that but I do not know if your grandfather was living in Portugal. I’ve noticec all their cakes, custards and pastries are really yellow in Portugal.

    My mother in law brought back some eggs with her from a recent trip to Portugal (we live in France) and she used them to make her basic pound cake that she makes almost every week. The cake with the Portuguese eggs was so yellow compared to the one she made with French eggs. She said that she used the exact same recipe she always uses, that it really is the eggs!

    I am so excited I just found your blog. I absolutely love Portugal, I am really excited to visit there this summer with our baby son and to show him part of his rich culture!

    • http://www.portuguesegirlcooks.com/ Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Kate!

      Yes, fresh farm eggs from free range chickens have a much more golden color and will result in a more golden color. Bakeries tend to add coloring for appearances sake. I did not add any to mine, and used regular eggs. Good luck and I hope your husband enjoys it!! Happy Easter!

  • ana bela

    I’m going to give a try, I never done it with eggs

    • http://www.portuguesegirlcooks.com/ Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Awesome! I hope you like it!!

  • Donna

    Fantastic!! I have been hoping to find a real-deal Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe …since my beloved Portuguese grandmother passed away…and the images look JUST like the one I love and remember…There was definitely a lemon flavor involved…and the eggs! The crust and inner texture are identical! Obrigado for this very necessary recipe for me personally!

    Now I must find a replica of her Portuguese bean marvel (with pork) feijoada?!..that she used to make…and her linguica sausage and eggs for brunch!…Loving that I have found your site!

    • http://www.portuguesegirlcooks.com/ Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Donna! So happy that I could help you find a recipe! Unfortunately, I don’t have recipes for the others but perhaps the next time my grandmother makes it I can get the recipe. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate it!

    • Maria Mandjik

      Hi Donna
      I am Portuguese and my mother who is in her eighties is still alive, she still makes feijoada and she used to make her own lenguica, I make a great sweet Portuguese rice. I will ask her for the recipes.

  • Margie S.

    This recipe is a little different from the one my grandmother made. She used mashed potatoes and the yeast as a starter. I had a difficult time cutting down her recipe too because she used to make it in huge metal dishpans. I think I finally got it right. I like the idea of boiling onion skins with the eggs and will have to try that.

    • http://www.portuguesegirlcooks.com/ Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Margie! That sounds like a very interesting recipe. It’s amazing how many different variations there are, and how each family and region make it differently. No two recipes are alike! :)

  • Estefania

    The folar I have every Easter is totally different. It has meat in it like chourico, is yellow from all the beaten eggs that are in it and has an egg wash on the crust. Super yummy! I guess it depends on the region of Portugal you come from.

  • Beth Anderle

    Where grew up, we always used to just put the eggs in raw and allow them to bake in the bread. We also use vanilla and a pinch of nutmeg, and sweetened condensed milk. Looking forward to trying your recipe!

  • Amanda Zacchi