Papo-secos (Portuguese Rolls)


Papo-secos (Portuguese Rolls)

  • Servings: 12 rolls
  • Difficulty: Medium
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  • 4c cake flour plus extra
  • ½t sugar
  • 1t salt
  • 10g instant yeast
  • ½ raw potato
  • 1½ – 2c warm water


Grate the raw potato – you should end up with about half a cup.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together. Add the raw potato and stir to distribute it through the flour.

Add the warm water, starting with 1½c, and mix it in. You should end up with a soft, roughly-mixed dough. Add a bit more warm water if it’s too dry, bearing in mind that it gets stickier as you knead it. And if you add a bit much water, just throw in some more flour.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface sprinkled with flour, and sprinkle some more flour over it and your hands. Then knead the dough for 10 minutes (for a demo of how to do this, see here) until it’s smooth and pliable. As you go, you may need to add a bit more flour if it gets too sticky, so keep some close by in case (not in a closed container since your hands will be all messy when you need it).

When it’s kneaded, shape the dough into an approximate ball and place it in a large greased/oiled bowl to rise. Sprinkle the dough with a bit of flour, then cover the whole bowl with a clean cloth and put in warm place to rise for a couple of hours.

If you have a warm patch of sunlight, that’s perfect, otherwise near a heater or stove if you’re cooking something else on it. Just make sure it’s not too hot as you don’t want to actually cook it at this stage. In a pinch, I’ve turned on the oven to very low, let it warm up for a few mins, then switched it off and put the bowl in with the door open to give it a good start.

While you wait, grease a large baking tray or alternatively cover it with baking paper.

After a couple of hours (depending on the temperature), the dough should have about doubled in size. Turn it out onto a clean, floured surface again and punch it down a bit – don’t worry, it will rise again.

Cut the dough ball into 12 approximately even pieces. Roll each piece into an oval shape, and if you want to do it the really traditional way, create a point at each end and roll the points. They do start springing back again so roll the points very well. I didn’t roll mine quite enough so you can’t really see them once they’re baked.

Place the rolls onto the tray as you make them, so you don’t have to move them again. If you put them far apart, you’ll get individual rolls with crispy sides – personally I like soft sides so I put them close together and break them apart afterwards.

Use a knife to score lengthwise about half way through each roll (again for the traditional shape), then sprinkle with flour and leave to rise again for about an hour.

Now switch on the oven to 190°C and leave it to get up to temperature. In the meantime, brush the top of the rolls with a little milk so they will colour slightly. When the oven is ready, slide in the baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes, then check the rolls by pricking one with a skewer or small sharp knife. If it comes out clean, they’re done, but if there’s any dough on the skewer, put them in for another few minutes.

Serve warm if you can, either as part of a main meal or as a lighter meal with a filling. They’re good cold too, preferably within the next day or so.

If you have left-overs that you aren’t going to use immediately, they do freeze well. Defrost them, then give them about 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C to warm them through, without actually cooking them further (if you leave them too long, they will be quite tough).


© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015




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