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God’s Bread (Pão de Deus)

Growing up in Portugal, there’s something about the smell of freshly baked bread that just feels like home. It’s everywhere, and man, it’s good.

As I shifted to a vegan diet, though, I found myself missing some of those traditional goodies, especially our beloved ‘God’s Bread’.

But instead of just missing it, I thought, why not give it a vegan twist? ⓥ

I’ve tried to make this recipe, no joking, seven times! The end result is very akin to the original. Soft bread with a decadent coconut topping that tastes divine, yo.

Here’s the step by step video of the recipe, if you prefer:

🧐 Why God’s Bread?

Our homemade (vegan) God's Bread.

Growing up in Portugal, the term “God’s Bread” for me was just another name for a sweeter kind of bread we enjoyed. It wasn’t until I decided to put my own spin on this recipe that I became really curious about its history.

Behind every crumb, there’s a tale waiting to be told, it seems.

Offerings to the departed? That’s not just a Portuguese thing. Many cultures, including the Celts who once roamed our lands way before our famous pastéis de nata, have their own traditions.

These age-old practices, centered around cherishing and honoring our loved ones, gave birth to the diverse celebrations of Halloween across the globe.

Our Pão de Deus here in Portugal has its roots in these very traditions. While its exact origin might be a bit fuzzy, its significance isn’t.

All Saints’ Day, fondly called the Day of Pão de Deus by some in the 15th century, was all about the spirit of giving, often to those in need.

But the story takes a somber turn.

A devastating earthquake struck Lisbon in 1755 on November 1st, All Saints’ Day.

The following year, as the city tried to pick up its pieces and hunger gnawed at its residents, people went door to door, often asking for just a slice of bread.

Their heartfelt plea? “Pão, por Deus” (Bread, for God’s sake). Generous souls offered bread, cakes, and sometimes wine, as a way to remember the departed and send prayers their way. This is how God’s Bread came to gain its name.

It really makes you think, doesn’t it? Every bite is not just flavor, but history too.

🌿 Giving ‘God’s Bread’ a Vegan Twist

I’m a simple guy. I appreciate my roots and (some) old traditions, and, like many of you, I also love to eat food.

And like the food lover I am, converting old traditional recipes to suit my vegan lifestyle is a must because I simply refuse to abandon my old favorites.

When I first went vegan, I’ll admit, there were moments of longing — especially for the familiar tastes of my childhood. But instead of lamenting over what I couldn’t have, I saw it as an exciting challenge.

How could I recreate those memories without straying from my vegan path? As I’ve done with other recipes, I’ve also done it with God’s Bread.

The original God’s Bread (in Portuguese— Pão de Deus) is an inviting blend of soft bread topped with a sweet coconut layer. Traditionally, it calls for eggs and dairy, deemed essential for its rich texture and flavor.

I rolled up my sleeves and started experimenting. After several (okay, more than just several!) trial runs, I managed to swap out the eggs and dairy for plant-based alternatives without compromising on the authentic taste.

Trust me, once you bite into this vegan version, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot the difference— it’s pretty great!

📒 Ingredients

God's Bread (our vegan version) — top-down picture.

There are two steps to this recipe: one is making the dough, and the other is the coconut topping.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to successfully make this recipe:

Flour: The foundation of our bread. If you’re in the USA, opt for a good quality all-purpose flour to ensure a soft and fluffy result. But if you’re in Europe, attempt to find T65 flour from a good brand.

Unsweetened Soy Drink: This vegan-friendly alternative not only provides moisture but also imparts a subtle, creamy taste that complements the other ingredients seamlessly.

Margarine (59% fat content): This ensures our bread remains moist and tender. I’ve specified 59% because it was the fat content of the margarine I used. This makes a difference since different products have varying fat contents.

Active Dry Yeast: The magic behind the bread’s rise.

Sugar – Used both in the bread base and the coconut topping, sugar adds the right amount of sweetness to this delicacy. In the bread, it works alongside the yeast, aiding in the fermentation and rise, while in the topping, it balances the creaminess of the coconut milk, giving it a sweet, delightful flavor.

Ground Turmeric: A pinch of this not only adds a hint of earthiness but also gives our bread a lovely golden hue. It’ll also serve to give the coconut topping a yellowish tone as well.

Coconut Milk – This forms the creamy base for our topping. It adds a rich tropical note which pairs wonderfully with the shredded coconut.

Shredded Coconut – The star of the topping. Go for an unsweetened variety to keep the sugar levels in check while delivering that signature Pão de Deus flavor.

Cornstarch – This helps thicken our coconut topping, ensuring it adheres well to the bread without being too runny.

🧑🏼‍🍳 How To Make God’s Bread

The first step is a bit personal, but I would recommend you do the same— especially if you’re baking something— which is to carefully weigh some of the ingredients (particularly those I’ve listed in grams).

Baking requires accuracy, and this step ensures you’re off to a good start, in other words, if you wish to obtain good results, you must precisely measure each ingredient.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into the recipe:

1. Soy Milk Fusion

Warm the soy milk slightly. Typically, what I do is heat it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds depending on the amount of milk.

Mix in the sugar and instant yeast until mostly dissolved. You’ll notice the yeast will start to froth, which means it’s activating.

2. Golden Flour Mix

In a different bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and a touch of ground turmeric. This will basically give your bread a beautiful golden hue.

3. Merging Mixtures

Pour the frothy soy milk mix into the flour. As you mix, you’ll see the yeast’s magic bubbling up.

Add the margarine and mix until you get a consistent dough texture.

4. Kneading Time

Transfer the dough to a flat surface and knead for about 10 minutes. You’re looking for an elastic and smooth texture.

Not sure if it’s ready? Gently poke your finger into the dough. If it springs back quickly and leaves only a small indentation, it’s ready. If the indentation remains deep and the dough doesn’t bounce back, it needs more kneading.

5. Dough Rise

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covering it with a cloth.

Set it in a warm area (especially if your room temperature happens to be cold), letting it double in size, which usually takes around 1 hour, sometimes less.

6. Forming Balls

Once risen, take the dough out and divide it into eight equal portions. Roll each into a ball and place them on a parchment paper, ensuring some space between each.

Cover and let them rise again, this time for about 30 minutes.

Now, the second part of this recipe is making the coconut topping, which is pretty simple, so stick with me:

7. Creamy Base

In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, sugar, and cornstarch.

Heat it up, stirring until the sugar and cornstarch dissolve into the milk. This should take you only about one minute.

8. Add Texture & Color

Fold in the shredded coconut and a hint of turmeric.

This will basically result in a thick, vibrant topping with a creamy but cohesive texture that will stick to the top of the bread.

9. Preheat

As the dough balls approach their final rise, turn on your oven to preheat at 320°F.

We’re almost there, now you just have three extra simple steps:

11. Buttery Shine

Melt a small amount of vegan margarine and brush each dough ball, giving them a nice glossy finish. You don’t need to drench them in fat— just a tiny bit.

12. Coconut Glory

Generously top each ball with the creamy coconut mixture. And I mean that seriously, make sure you cover the top part of the dough.

13. Time to Bake

Slide the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until you see a golden crust and slightly toasted topping. The goal, with the 20 minutes, is for the topping to be slightly moist so it’s slightly creamy when you’re eating the bread.

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vegan god's bread

God’s Bread (Pão de Deus)

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Alexandre Valente
  • Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pieces 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A traditional Portuguese bread with a delightful twist – it’s entirely plant-based! This bread, aptly named “God’s Bread,” is soft, scrumptious, and topped with a coconut layer that will take your taste buds to paradise.


Units Scale

For Making the Dough

  • 200 grams soy drink, unsweetened
  • 8 grams active dry yeast
  • 60 grams white sugar
  • 400 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 68 grams margarine, vegan (margarine with 59% fat content)

For the Coconut Topping

  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 40 grams white sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 130 grams shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • icing sugar for garnish, optional


Preparing the Dough

  1. Weigh Ingredients: Begin by weighing all the ingredients (listed in grams) as it’s more accurate than using measuring cups. Accuracy is paramount in baking as a slight variation can drastically alter the final result.
  2. Activate the Yeast: Warm the soy drink in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until it’s lukewarm. Add the yeast and sugar to the milk, stirring until mostly dissolved.
  3. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and turmeric. Mix them together using a whisk.
  4. Combine: Pour the milk mixture into the flour. You’ll notice that the yeast has created a foamy layer, which basically implies it’s active.
  5. Add Margarine: Before the mixture solidifies completely, add room-temperature margarine. Mix until you’ve got a more solid dough.
  6. Knead the Dough: Transfer the dough onto a countertop and knead it for 5-10 minutes. To determine if the dough is ready, perform a poke test.
  7. First Rise: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covering it with a kitchen cloth. If your kitchen is cold, position the bowl near a heat source or in a warmer place. Many opt to place it inside the oven. Let it rise until it doubles in size – approximately an hour.
  8. Form Balls: After the rise, remove the dough, divide it into eight equal portions, and shape them into balls. Place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, ensuring there’s space between each. Cover with a cloth and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

Preparing the Coconut Topping

  1. Heat Ingredients: In a pan, combine the coconut milk, cornstarch, and sugar. Turn the heat to medium-high, stirring for a minute until the sugar and cornstarch dissolve.
  2. Add Coconut and Turmeric: Incorporate the shredded coconut and turmeric. Stir until you achieve a thick, paste-like consistency. Remove from heat and let it sit, allowing it to thicken further.
  3. Preheat Oven: A few minutes before the dough completes its second rise, preheat the oven to 160°C or 320°F.

Baking the Bread

  1. Brush & Top: Once the dough completes its second rise, melt a teaspoon of margarine in the microwave for 15 seconds. Brush the dough with this melted margarine. Generously top each bread ball with the coconut mixture.
  2. Bake: Immediately place the tray in the oven, bake for 20 minutes, and then you’re done! Sprinkle with a little icing sugar before serving.


Flour: The flour I’ve used for this recipe is T65 (or type 65) which is essentially the same used for regular bread here in Europe. However, if you don’t manage to find this one, just use the good ol’ all-purpose flour. 

Baking time: Baking the bread for 20 minutes ensures that the topping remains moist in the middle, making it incredibly yummy. 

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Resting time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Portuguese

🙏🏻 Before you go, I’ve got a favor to ask!

I’d love to get your feedback on this recipe! Feel free to leave a comment below detailing your experience— and let others know how you feel about it!

Of course, you can also ask any questions you may have about the recipe— and we’ll try to respond ASAP.

Another picture of our God's Bread but this time with a cup of tea behind it— which is a great beverage to accompany this delicious bread.

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