Bolo de Caco is our favourite traditional Portuguese Bread Roll recipe.
Our homemade Portuguese Bread Rolls, also known as Bolo de Caco and Bolo do Caco, are quick and easy to make, ready to serve hot off the griddle in under 2 hours.
Our healthy Portuguese Roll recipe features flour, sweet potatoes, honey and butter. We suggest serving them hot, slathered in chive butter.
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What Is Bolo de Caco?
Bolo de Caco is a circular Madeiran flatbread, shaped like a cake and thus called bolo.
Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, is an archipelago comprising 4 islands off the northwest coast of Africa. It is known for its namesake wine and warm, subtropical climate. The main island of Madeira is volcanic, green and rugged, with high cliffs, pebbly beaches and settlements on deltas of the Fajã River.
The origin of the Madeiran bolo de caco seems to be the result of Arab influence, which dates back to the 15th century. It is directly related to the cultivation of sugarcane and the first phase of implantation of vineyards, when the first Guanches, Moroccan and African slaves, arrived on the island, and contributed to the economic development of the archipelago.
The inclusion of sweet potatoes in the recipe is the result of the cyclical lack of cereals on the island. This gave local bakers the idea to compensate the shortage or grains with the addition of the pulp of a reliable tuber root.
In an article published in 1909, Madeiran botanist Carlos Azevedo de Menezes said that sweet potatoes were introduced to Madeira in the middle of the 17th century. There is every reason to believe that its cultivation started earlier, since, more recently, Mendes Ferrão, a scholar of tropical plants, stated that its culture already existed in the Azores in 1538 and that in the second half of the 16th century, sweet potatoes were already growing in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
The region has a large number of sweet potato varieties. Researchers have counted more than 28 varieties of sweet potatoes on the island. Some are very old and others have been introduced relatively recently, brought from Venezuela and South Africa by immigrants.
Bolo de Caco is traditionally cooked on a caco, a flat basalt stone slab. The bread is usually served with garlic butter, or eaten as a sandwich with octopus, espetada, milho frito or as a prego sandwich.
Travel to Portugal by Cooking Bolo de Caco at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, France and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Portugal is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. Take a Portuguese food tour and you’ll learn that popular dishes in Lisbon and Porto are unique to what you might find on restaurant menus in Sintra and The Algarve.
Once back home from a Portuguese holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Portugal and can impress friends and family by making our Portuguese Roll recipe.
Where To Eat Portuguese Bread Rolls
In Toronto you’re most likely to find traditional Bolo de Caco on the menu at Iberian restaurants such as Carmen, Bar Isabel, Patria, Salt Wine Bar, Bar Raval, Barsa Taberna, Labora, Chiado, Ilhas de Bruma and Moliceiro.
My Family Loves Bolo de Caco Portuguese Bread Rolls
My family is obsessed with freshly baked bread!
Every morning my dad toasts English Muffins and slathers them with berry jam and peanut butter. The crunchy and chewy breakfast pairs perfectly with a hot mug of coffee.
Bolo de Caco are prepared in the same way as English Muffins. Rather than only baking the bread in the oven, the dough is shaped into rolls and cooked on a hot skillet or on a griddle.
This Sweet Potato Portuguese Roll recipe is slightly sweeter than English Muffins and best enjoyed slathered in chive butter.
Portuguese Roll Recipe Tips
This healthy homemade Portuguese Roll recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time bakers.
- This is our favourite recipe to use up leftover mashed sweet potatoes. We often make it the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
- You can try substituting sweet potatoes for butternut squash or pumpkin as well.
- We’ve used a stand mixer to mix the dough in this Portuguese Roll recipe but you could also make them the traditional way by kneading with your hands.
- If you’re preparing these rolls on a cold day, let the dough rise in the oven with the light on to help encourage quick fermentation.
- We suggest using a large nonstick skillet to grill Bolo de Caco on the stove. You can typically fit 3-4 in a pan at one time.
- Enjoy on their own or serve with traditional chive or garlic butter.
What To Serve with Bolo de Cacao
There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then cozying up to a bowl of soup and warm Portuguese Bread Rolls.
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Storing Bolo de Caco
If you have leftover soup you can store the soup base in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.
We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling. My mother often uses old glass pasta sauce jars to store soup in the freezer.
Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.
Best Bolo de Caco Portuguese Roll Recipe
Bolo de Caco Portuguese Bread Rolls
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Stand Mixer
- baking sheet
- Cooling Rack
- 12 oz Sweet Potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 tbsp Butter cut into 3 pieces
- 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 3 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Instant Yeast
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the potatoes, butter, honey, salt and 2/3 cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt the butter then reduce to low heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. The potatoes are finished cooking when a skewer or paring knife meets no resistance.
- Transfer the potatoes and any liquid to the bowl of a stand mixer. Cool until just warm, around 30 minutes. Mist a medium sized bowl with cooking spray.
- Using the paddle attachement, beat the mixture on low until smooth, 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and yeast. Mix on low until a smooth dough forms, 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and knead for 1 minute to help strengthen the dough. Transfer to the prepared greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm space (like an oven with the light on) until the dough has doubled in size, approximately an hour.
- Heat the oven to 350 F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a tight ball by rolling in a circular motion on the counter. Place seam down on the baking sheet. Using your hand, press and flatten each ball until it measures 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 4 dough rounds seam-side down in the pan and cook until golden brown, as you would homemade English Muffins. Using a wide metal spatula, flip and cook the second sides until golden brown, around 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining rounds, returning them to the baking sheet.
- Bake the flatbreads in the oven for 12-13 minutes. Immediately transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve with garlic chive butter.
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