Bola de Caco – Traditional Bread from Madeira
I’ve recently returned 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 butter, on several occasions It was also on sale at street stalls, made on site and then filled and sold as a sandwich.
|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. The sweet potato used in Madeira is a white version whereas I could only get the orange sweet potato for my Bola de Caco, so the colour is a little different but the taste is pretty much the same.
Some recipes suggested a sourdough, but as I don’t have a sourdough starter and am not patient enough to wait, I made a version of Bola de Caco with fast action yeast. 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.
- 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.
Pin for later
Here’s how I baked the Bola de Caco bread
Picture 1: Baking the Bola de Caco in the pan (a smaller high sided pan is recommended but I didn’t have one and it worked just fine)
Picture 2: The dough on its second rise
Picture 3: The texture of the bread which is slightly chewy on the outside but soft and light inside.
Picture 4: The bread rounds cooling.
I was surprised how easy it was to make the Bola de Caco, it rose well and baked through without any difficulty. The texture of the bread was good and it tasted delicious.
As you can see above, this little bread also makes a great bacon butty!