Papo Secos - Portuguese Bread Rolls

The Papo Seco is a geological formation on the Cabo Espichel in Southern Portugal, 48km south of Lisbon. The strata dates back to the Early Cretaceous period with dinosaur fossils found there that date from the Triassic period. 'Papo Seco' translates as 'dry throat' and the characteristic scar in the geological formation has lent its name to the popular Portuguese bread roll - the papo secos.

Papo secos are staple bread rolls, popular all over Portugal in homes and restaurants. When people feel the need for a drink, they'll remark "I'll have a papo seco" and in Portuguese urban slang, they're often known as 'butt buns'. 

A papo seco should have a crusty exterior but be light and airy in the centre. They are perfect with fillings as sandwiches and also with a meal to soak up sauces. 

In Lisbon, you'll see them as bifanas. They are cut open and filled with  pork tenderloin that has been cooked in a rich stock of paprika, garlic, wine, piri-piri and bay leaf. The meat is sliced and served in the papo seco with a topping of chilli and mustard. 


To activate the yeast

118 mls of lukewarm water
2 teaspoons active instant yeast
13 gms demerera sugar

for the bread

685 gms strong white bread flour
375 mls lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sea salt
28 gms unsalted butter


If you're using a machine, add the flour and the salt to the pan and cover with the liquid. Leave to autolyse for fifteen minutes. Add the remainder of the ingredients and choose a Basic Dough programme (2hrs 20 minutes). The proceed to the next stage. 

If you're mixing by hand or using a stand mixer, add the softened butter and the salt to the flour and mix thoroughly. Then add the remainder of the dry ingredients. Slowly add the liquid and then the yeast mix until you have a sticky dough. Turn the mix out onto a floured board and knead until you have a silky and pliable dough. (There are 'Help' videos and articles in the 'Useful Web and YouTube links' on the lefthand side of this page). Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Leave for an hour somewhere warm until the dough has doubled in size. 

  1. Tip the dough out onto a floured board.
  2. Weigh the dough and divide into 10 pieces
  3. Take a piece of the dough and with floured hands roll it on your work surface in a circle to tighten the dough and to form a ball.
  4. Place the dough on a floured baking sheet, cover with parchment paper and allow to rise for 20 minutes. 
  5. Flour your hands.
  6. Flatten a dough ball into a 6 inch disc. 
  7. Using the side of your hand, make a deep crease across the middle of the disc. (Think Karate chop!)
  8. Pull each end of the crease to form an oval
  9. Fold the dough over from left to right and gently press to place the seam in the middle.
  10. Place the papo seco on a floured tray upside down, crease side down. Repeat with the rest of the rolls
  11. Cover the rolls with parchment paper and leave until they've doubled in size - about 30 minutes.

Stage 4 above 

Stage 10 above

Preheat the oven to 240⁰C. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. 

It's now up to you to decide whether you will bake these rolls on a baking stone or a pizza stone. Alternatively, you can bake them on a normal baking tray. 

Gently take each papo seco and turn them the right way up so the crease you made is on the top. Arrange on the baking tray or on your baker's peel or on parchment paper. 

Place them in the oven and drop the heat to 220⁰C

If you can't bake them all at once, bake them in batches. It's not a problem - Não faz mal. 

Spray the rolls with water and bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 220⁰C

When they are golden brown, remove them and let them cool on a wire rack. They will become even more crusty as they cool. 

Happy baking......Feliz cozimento ....


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