Everyone who has ever been to Madeira knows it. The typical bread with sweet potato in it. That is why we have created a page with the background and recipe of bolo de caco.
Bolo de caco is a typical Madeiran bread. It is baked on a hot plate, so no oven is needed. In the old days, this was handy, because many people did not have an oven and had to use central ovens, which were, of course, owned by the big landowners who wanted money for it.
On Madeira, there is little flat land, so having wheat fields is not so simple. Wheat flour was therefore a luxury food that had to be used sparingly. Therefore, the bolo de caco was made of a mixture of wheat flour and mashed sweet potato. The sweet potato, the ‘batata doce’, was already known in the 15th century after the discovery of America and was cultivated on the Azores and Madeira, and later also on the mainland.
The name sweet potato easily misleads you. It is absolutely not a potato and is not related to it either. The name ‘batata’ probably comes from Taino, the language of the people of the northern Caribbean islands first discovered by Columbus. The Latin name is Ipomoea batatas, so it should not be confused with the common potato which has the Latin name solanum tuberosum and which was only introduced in Europe long after the sweet potato.
recipe bolo de caco
The recipe for the bolo de caco is actually very simple. We have also made it in the Netherlands, even aboard Heerenleed. Make sure the ambient temperature is right for the rising, just like you would for baking a normal bread. Draughts are disastrous. If you only have dried yeast, you have to convert the amount of yeast, of course. If you insist on using Imperial measurements, I’ll leave it to you to convert the metrics we use. There are some more recipes available, just go to the page ‘recipes‘.
- 500 grams of flour
- 350 grams of sweet potato
- 10 grams of salt
- 240 ml of water
- 10 grams of fresh yeast
making the dough
- brush the sweet potato under running water.
- cut the sweet potato in chunks
- boil the sweet potato until done in 20-30 minutes. Leave the skin on for now.
- Put the water in a large bowl and dissolve the yeast in it. That is easiest with lukewarm water.
- When done, let the sweet potato cool until you can handle them and take the skin off. That should be quite easy now.
- Add the chunks to the water with the yeast and add the salt.
- Mash with a fork or, better still, with a hand blender.
- Add the flour little by little and knead during 20 minutes (by hand) or, if you have one, with the food processor during 8 minutes. At first the dough will be sticky, but that will stop after a while. If it doesn’t, add another table spoon of flour. Continue to knead until you have a supple dough that does not stick to your hands.
- Put the dough into a large bowl, cover and leave to rise until the volume has doubled. Dependent on the temperature that should take about an hour.
shaping and baking the bolo de caco
Make portions of approximately 150 grams. You can do smaller, 100 grams for instance, whateveer you like best. Make small balls of dough and put them on a board, cover with a lightly humid tea towel and leave them to rise for another 30 minutes in a lukewarm place.
Sprinkle flour into a non-stick frying pan (it’s important to cover the surface well to avoid the bolo de caco sticking to it or burning) and heat it on low heat. Meanwhile, sprinkle your work surface with flour and shape a ball of dough into a disc of 1-2 cms thick.
Place into the frying pan, cover (best with a glass lid) and cook during 3-4 minutes. The dough should rise again during the cooking.
Flip and leave for another 3-4 minutes until done. Take out of the pan and leave to cool until you can handle the bolo de caco. Cut horizontally and put ample garlick and parsley butter on both halves.
You can it the bolo de caco warm or cold, and it’s possible to reheat a cold one in the microwave or oven, but be careful not to let it dry out or become hard.
This recipe has been taken from the well-known website ‘a cozinha tecnica‘. We thought it wasn’t necessary to invent the wheel again, as this one was well-rounded.
In the background of this page we placed a photo of the Batata Doce. It grows in all shapes and sizes, and there are also different species that are somewhat different in colour and flavour. For bolo de caco we use the one with a white inside, but in other dishes we also use the ‘batata cenoura’ which has a more orange inside and indeed contains more carotene. It also has a slightly different flavour.