A bowl of fresh clams steamed in their own juices, served in a bowl with some papo secos, crusty Portuguese rolls, are my favourite memory of holidays in the Algarve.
The Papo Seco which literally means “dry throat” is the most popular Portuguese bread eaten all over the country both in homes and a staple at every restaurant.
The roll is crusty on the outside and light and airy in the centre, which make it perfect for sandwiches and for absorbing sauces.
The method of preparing it and shape of the roll is uniquely Portuguese.
For a truly authentic outcome, use flour milled from hard grain like semolina or durum wheat. And bake them in a wood-fired oven with a tray of water.
As most of us don’t have a wood-fired oven, just crank your oven up as high as it will go!
- 512 g Strong bread flour
- 1¼ tsp Yeast
- 600 ml Warm water
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 3 tbsp Olive oil plus extra for greasing
- ½ tsp Salt
- Put the yeast in a mixing bowl with the sugar and 120ml of warm water. Mix and cover with cling wrap and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add 65g of flour to the yeast mixture, mix till the flour is blended in and then re-cover. Leave the yeast mix to double in size and bubble, about 45 minutes.
- Add the remaining flour, salt, olive oil and water to the yeast and then mix until the dough starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured kneading surface; knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth. Roll into a ball and put in a bowl lightly oiled with olive oil, cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave the dough to double in size, about 45 minutes.
- Line a baking tray with non-stick paper and lightly dust with flour. Heat the oven to 260˚C/Fan 240°C/500˚F.
- Push the air out of the dough and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Work each dough piece into a ball and then flatten with your palm to form an oval roll. Pinch each end of the rolls and twist in opposite directions to help keep the shape. Place rolls on the baking tray about 5cm/2" apart, dust with a little flour and cover with cling wrap. Leave the rolls to rise again for about 45 minutes.
- Cut the rolls lightly with a sharp knife from end to end and bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. The rolls should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and the top golden.