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Jan 13, 2020

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}

These Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls originally come from the Portuguese island of Madeira, where they are served with most meals, and are now served in working class lunch spots throughout Portugal.

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco} with garlic herb butter

These sweet potato rolls are a lot like "English muffins meet naan and get married." They are super soft on the inside and crispy on the outside from being grilled before baking.

They are often split and used for sandwiches or toasted and spread with garlic and herb butter. The name, Bolo do Caco, is loosely translated to "cake from stone" because the bread was traditionally cooked on a basalt stone slab.

These rolls are faintly sweet, kind of like Hawaiian bread, which is actually, in a roundabout way, of Portuguese descent as well.

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}

What is Bolo do Caco?

Bolo do Caco are rolls made with sweet potatoes that originated on Madeira, an autonomous Portuguese island about 600 miles from Portugal and 400 miles off the coast of Morocco. The theory of their origination is that they are a descendant from African flat breads, brought to the island by slaves.

Evidently, the climate in Madeira was perfect for growing sweet potatoes once they were introduced from the New World. The sweet potatoes were added to bread to stretch the limited supply of wheat. 

There also is a version stuffed with sausages

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls with white sweet potatoes

Ingredients for these Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls:

You will need bread flour, butter, honey, water, salt, yeast, and sweet potatoes.

I made these Portuguese sweet potato rolls with two kinds of sweet potatoes, first with white (or gold) sweet potatoes, and then with red sweet potatoes. I found that there was a huge difference in the amount of extra water I needed to add to the mixture to create the dough.

Sweet potatoes add a lot of moisture to bread, making it soft and moist, yet most of the recipes I found for Bolo do Caco had a really low percentage of water, and counted on the potatoes to add almost all of the moisture to the dough.

I found that I had to add way more water. For the white sweet potatoes, I added 3/4 cups (12 tablespoons) of water while the dough was being kneaded in the mixer.

For the red sweet potatoes, which are more moist, I only needed to add an additional 6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) of water. I also suspect that the moisture in the air, the moisture in the potatoes, and the weather all come together to determine how much water you will need to add to the dough.

Trust your instincts and the feel of the dough when making this bread.

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls with red sweet potatoes

How to Make Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls:

First, cut a large sweet potato into 1 inch chunks and add them to a sauce pan. Add butter, water, kosher salt, and honey, and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Next, let the potatoes cool and then mash them. Add them to the bowl of a stand mixer and add flour and instant yeast.

After that, mix with the dough hook, slowly adding water by the tablespoonful until you have a tacky (but not sticky) dough. Form the dough into a ball, place it in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled.

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls step-by-step

Once the dough has doubled, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Next, form each piece into a ball and press them into 4 inch disks. Let the disks rise for about 30 minutes, and then cook them on both sides in a hot skillet.

Finally, bake the seared breads in the oven until thoroughly cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Tip for adding water into a dry dough:

Sometimes, when you are adding water to a dry dough in a stand mixer, the dough will kind of slosh around and not really incorporate the water. When this happens, this is my no-fail method for creating a cohesive dough:

First, remove the entire piece of dough from the mixer. 

Next, turn the mixer on to second speed with the dough hook, and begin to add the dough back into the bowl, one small chunk at a time. 

I promise, this will work! You will end up with a cohesive dough. 

Now, go make a sandwich and dream about lunch in Lisbon or Madeira!

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls pork sandwich

The Baking Bloggers are bringing you sweet rolls this month! I'm excited to check out all of the amazing sounding breads: 

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}

If you make these Sweet Potato Rolls, please let me know!

If you have leftover sweet potato, you can also whip up some sweet potato muffins!

These Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls originally come from the Portuguese island of Madeira, where they are served with most meals, and are now served in working class lunch spots throughout Portugal.

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}

Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}
Yield: 8 servings
These Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls originally come from the Portuguese island of Madeira, where they are served with most meals, and are now served in working class lunch spots throughout Portugal.


  • 12 ounces of raw sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 411 grams (3 cups) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 6 to 12 tablespoons more water to form a cohesive dough


How to cook Portuguese-Style Sweet Potato Rolls {Bolo do Caco}

  1. In a 2 to 3 quart saucepan, combine the potato chunks, butter, honey, salt, and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender. 
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir, mashing the potatoes. Let cool for 30 minutes. 
  3. Add the flour and yeast to the bowl and mix with the dough hook for about two minutes. Begin adding water, two tablespoons at a time, until the dough begins to come together. If the water is difficult to incorporate, remove the dough from the bowl and add it back, one piece at at time while the mixer is running. The final dough should be tacky but not sticky. 
  4. Mix the dough on low for four minutes, and then mix on medium high for one minute. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes. 
  6. Deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. 
  7. Form each piece into a ball and flatten each ball into a 4 inch disk. Place the disks onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. 
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  9. Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes. 
  10. Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Place 4 of the dough rounds onto the dry skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Flip the rounds over and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. 
  11. Return the dough to the baking sheet and cook the other four disks on both sides in the skillet. 
  12. Place the baking sheet with all 8 rolls into the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. Transfer to a wire rack. 
  13. Leftovers can be individually wrapped and frozen to be served later. 
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bread, sweet potatoes

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe and its story was adapted from several sources, including Milk Street Magazine, Sept/Oct 2019, Wikipedia, and 196 Flavors

Would you like to comment?

  1. I love this recipe and I think the bread made from the orange potatoes is much prettier. Love that you made a sandwich with it. I'm drooling all over the place here.

    1. Thank you! Yes, the orange is definitely prettier! They were great with the BBQ pork!

  2. These are so interesting! I've never seen anything quite like these before - I am going to give this one a try!

    1. They were fun to make and very tasty. You just have to get used to adjusting the water.

  3. My Portuguese ancestors are cheering you on! Great recipe, I had never heard of it... must absolutey make it!

    you are inspiring me again...

    1. Oh fun!! I had not heard of them either. I loved making them.

  4. You make such amazing breads, and these are no exception. I'm totally going to try my hand at them. Soon. I can see where they would go so well with so many southern dishes.

  5. This breads look amazing, nice and soft. Whenever I hop on to your blog, I bookmark a recipe. This is another must try with sweet potato.

  6. I'm baking these right now on my cast iron griddle. I Make English Muffins all the time and don' see a need to bake them in the oven. They look absolutely beautiful and I can taste them already! I used a red garnet yam, was a little short on the amount so added a carrot. Can't wait to taste!

    1. Very cool! I did finish them in the oven. If you want to finish them in the pan, cover the pan and cook over low to fish.

  7. These sound wonderful! I love the flavor and softness sweet potato add - interesting how the white and darker varieties differ in how they cook. Its many years since I was in Madeira and I don't remember these but think I'll have to try them soon anyway!

    1. I learned a lot about sweet potatoes making these. P.S. You are so well traveled!

  8. Oh wow! Such incredible rolls, especially paired with that sandwich! I absolutely love that color.

  9. They are the best breads u can eat


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