Farmersgirl Kitchen

Bola de Caco – Traditional Bread from Madeira

Baking, Bread | April 6, 2015 | By

Bola de Caco - traditional bread of Madeira

I’ve recently return from a holiday (vacation) on the beautiful island of Madeira.  After the first day of rain and mist, the sun shone and we really enjoyed the island and, of course, the food.  

As it is an island there was a lot of fish on the menu, which we love. However, today I am sharing with you a recipe for the local bread, Bola de Caco.  

We were served Bola de Caco, a little round loaf slathered in  garlic bread, on several occasions  It was also on sale at street stalls, made on site and then filled and sold as a sandwich.

Food and views of the island of Madeira
Bola de Caco Garlic Bread served with fresh cheese and olives, eaten in a restaurant overlooking the Marina at Funchal. 

On our return, I did a little research and found that one of the ingredients in Bola de Caco is sweet potato, although the sweet potato used in Madeira is a white version whereas I could only get the orange sweet potato for my Bola de Caco.  

Some recipes suggested a sourdough, but I didn’t have time to wait, so my version is a fast action yeast version.  I have kept faithful to the method of baking which is in a pan, so it’s a bit like a cross between a tattie scone and a giant English Muffin.

Bola de Caco

500g plain flour (not strong bread flour)
7g sachet Fast Action Yeast
200 grams sweet potatoes, (about 2)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
350ml warm water



  • Bake the sweet potatoes, either in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or in the microwave for 8-10 minutes (timings depend on size of sweet potatoes). Once cooked until soft, scoop out the flesh and mash until smooth.
  • Combine the sweet potatoes with the other ingredients and enough warm water to make a very soft, wet dough. Using one hand, bring all the ingredients together and mix thoroughly for 5-10 minutes or until dough becomes elastic.
  • Cover dough loosely with cling film and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. Oil your hands, so they don’t stick to the dough, shape into flattened rounds and set aside to prove for another 30 minutes, covered with a damp towel.
  • Melt a little butter in a small, high sided pan (or whatever kind of pan you have) and cook each round over a low heat for 8-10 minutes on each side until browned and cooked through.
  • Repeat process with remaining bread, keeping the cooked Bola soft by covering with a clean tea towel on a cooling rack.


Making Bola de Caco

1. baking the Bola de Caco in the pan (a smaller high sided pan is recommended but I don’t have one)
2. The dough on it’s second rise
3. Texture of the bread which is slightly chewy on the outside but soft and light inside.
4. The bread rounds cooling.

Bola de Caco Bacon Sandwich

I was surprised how easy it was to make the Bola de Caco and pleased that they cooked all the way through.  As you can see above, this little bread also makes a great bacon butty!

I’m entering the Bola de Caco for the new Bread based linky “Bready Steady Go” the brainchild of Jen from Jen’s Food and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families

  1. Donna B
    April 6, 2015

    I had a feeling Maderian recipes would feature Janice! Sounds scrummy while being easy to make πŸ‘

  2. Karen S Booth
    April 7, 2015

    What an interesting recipe Janice, and I must say it is very similar to Toutons in a way! Karen

    • JaniceFGK100
      April 7, 2015

      I cannot read that word without laughing, Karen. I must go back and check out the recipe from Faerie Land πŸ˜‰

  3. belleau kitchen
    April 7, 2015

    oh god I love different local breads, this looks sensational. You can get white sweet potatoes and sweet potato flour too. Anyway, this look amazing!

    • JaniceFGK100
      April 7, 2015

      Thanks Dom, I did think you must be able to get white sweet potatoes, but I've never seen them.

  4. Sylvia F.
    April 7, 2015

    Never heard of this kind of bread but it looks fantastic! x

    • JaniceFGK100
      April 7, 2015

      Neither had I Sylvia, love finding new things.

  5. Jen Price
    April 7, 2015

    The best part about going on holiday is trying new foods, even better when you find something that is easy to recreate at home. I need to get some sweet potatoes in and try this. Thanks for joining in with Bready, Steady Go! πŸ™‚

    • JaniceFGK100
      April 7, 2015

      I agree Jen, I love to try new food. Thanks for the push to actually make this bread, as I suspect I might have let it pass me by after my initial enthusiasm!

  6. fiona maclean
    April 7, 2015

    Looks fab! A lot of the fruit and veg in madeira is unique for regulatory reasons – those tiny bananas you may have found are not allowed to be sold anywhere else as bananas!

    • JaniceFGK100
      April 7, 2015

      Ah yes, I have many photos of bananas growing on the terraces. We also got nabbed in the Farmers Market and tried a whole lot of different types of fruit, then the guy tried to sell us one of each. I managed to get away with only four fruits!

  7. Anita-Clare Field
    April 7, 2015

    This looks fabulous Janice. We've got all the ingredients so there's no stopping us.

  8. Anne Szadorska
    April 7, 2015

    Ah your holiday looks lovely, am so jealous I need sun! The bread looks lovely and I love easy pan breads like this! I love sweet potato too so definitely snagging this!

  9. Camilla Hawkins
    April 7, 2015

    Ooh this sounds really tasty bread with the addition of sweet potatoes – my daughter would love this too as we are big fans of the sweet potato:-)

  10. Bintu Hardy
    April 8, 2015

    I like the addition of sweet potato. Yes please.

  11. tinkertink2010
    April 8, 2015

    Yummy! Another way to use my favourite sweet potato!

  12. Choclette
    July 21, 2016

    How did I miss this post? That bread looks amazing and I want to try it. If memory serves correctly (and it may not) white sweet potatoes are not nearly as sweet as the orange ones. My mother bring me back a bola de something or other whenever she visits my aunt in Portugal – it’s the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever had.
    Choclette recently posted…Iced Tea is the Bomb on a Hot Summer’s DayMy Profile

    • Janice Pattie
      July 21, 2016

      Madeira is a Portuguese island so must be similar thing. The taste was similar so the white sweet potatoes couldn’t be too much sweeter. It was pretty easy to make, well worth a try.

  13. Jen
    March 27, 2017

    Bolo do Caco is the correct spelling. I tried this recipe it was very good.

    • Janice Pattie
      March 27, 2017

      Thank you Jen 😊