Portuguese Rolls

Portuguese rolls are probably one of South Africa's favourite ways to eat bread! You can find them on just about every store shelf, and if they are not there they are most likely sold out. They have a thick crusty shell with a wonderfully dense soft middle. One of my favourite foodie memories of South Africa was the rotisserie chicken places where they sold the whole chicken with half a dozen fresh Portuguese rolls. The beautifully seasoned, and cooked to perfection chicken still hot on a Portuguese roll is just a food orgasm waiting to happen. Don't even mention pairing them with peri-peri chicken livers or I might have to buy a one way ticket back to South Africa right this minute.

There is something missing in this picture! Ahh yes flour. Portuguese rolls the way I know them do not have the usual milk wash prebaking. They are left matte with a dusting of flour over them. They are meant to be dusty. It just makes them that much better.

All you need to know:

Add 1/2 cup of warm water, 1/2 tsp of sugar, and 1 packet of yeast (not the quick rise type) into a bowl.
Wait approx ten minutes for it to activate.
Pour into a large bowl, and slowly mix in 5 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 more cups room temp water, and 2 tbsp soft butter.
Once it is all mixed in you should have a soft dough.
Place bowl in a warm spot with a slightly damp tea towel over it.
Wait about an hour till it has almost doubled in size.
Flour a work surface, and your hands, and proceed to knead the dough till it is smooth, and not overly sticky. Keeping adding flour to surfaces as necessary. This should take about ten minutes.
Separate dough into 12 gently formed balls.

Flatten dough into rounds, and karate chop the middle!

Fold the dough a little till you form a kiss.

Place on a well floured cloth surface seam side down.
Make sure the rows are kept tight with a layer of cloth separating them to prevent the seams from spreading out.
Twist each end with your fingers to make a small point.
Cover with a tea towel, and proof for 30 minutes.

 Turn on the oven at this time to 425 f
Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Carefully lift rolls onto your baking sheet, and lightly rub with another layer of flour. 
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until done.


There is another great blog out there that bakes portuguese breads. His recipe is more old school with longer rise, and proofing times. I am sure his recipe is far superior, and definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a more authentic experience.

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