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Portuguese Bread Rolls | Papo Secos

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My Portuguese Bread Rolls AKA Papo Secos are crusty on the outside with a light and airy interior. Perfect for sandwiches, dipping in a soup or spread with a generous curl of butter.

This is my take on traditional Portuguese Rolls. Easy to make whilst still delivering a delightful crust and a soft and fluffy inside.

I love the Portuguese crusty bread rolls from the local bakery in the Channel Islands. Every visit we have a few family BBQs and these include Portuguese crusty bread rolls.

A wicker basket filled with Papo Secos.

Back home in Wales I set about recreating them, using the dough from my tried and trusted crusty farmhouse bread. After several tweaks to the shaping and baking I was very pleased with the results. Now we have our own Nando’s Garlic Bread too.

Traditionally, there is a long fermentation period when making Portuguese Rolls but I wanted to simplify the process. My recipe still gives the rolls an extra rise to keep them light and airy but I’ve tweaked their shaping. Once the rolls are shaped, I transfer them directly to a baking sheet.


My easy Portuguese Bread Rolls recipe makes 8 large or 12 standard crusty buns. Your bread is done and dusted in under 4 hours but that includes the dough rising and baking.

A wicker basket filled with crusty bread rolls.

The secret to making the best Portuguese Bread Rolls involves flour and steam so you get an extra crispy crust. Dust your risen rolls with flour before baking and include an initial 10 minute blast of steam and heat. Introduce the steam using a cup of hot water in a preheated tin at the bottom of the oven. After this 10 minute blast at the beginning, bake as usual.

You may know by now that I love making bread. For me, the smell of freshly baked bread is something unique and special. And you really can’t beat homemade bread.

Portuguese Crusty Bread Rolls are a recent addition to our regular bread baking at The Kitchen Shed. But they are already much requested by friends and family alongside our Soft Bread Rolls, Tiger Bread and Multigrain Loaf.

Freshly baked bread on a baking tray.

What are Papo Secos ?

Papo Secos are Portuguese Bread Rolls. A favourite bread all over Portugal served in restaurants and homes alike.
The way in which their unique shape is formed makes these Portuguese Buns so light and airy. Balls of bread dough are flattened, a crease is made and then the dough is folded. Shaping the dough this way provides plenty of surface area which aerates the dough and delivers a fluffy bread.
Traditionally baked in a bread oven to give the rolls their crispy crust.

Crusty buns on a cooling rack.

What equipment do I need ?

  • I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to knead the dough. Simply add the ingredients and mix on a low speed. But don’t worry if you haven’t got a stand mixer. All you need is a bit of elbow grease and you can easily knead by hand.
  • A large mixing bowl – I used my Pyrex bowl.
  • A large baking tray or baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  • A shallow baking tin to place in the bottom of the oven to receive a cup of hot water. This creates the beautiful crispy crust.

What ingredients do I need ?

You only need 6 ingredients to make this recipe.

Water, flour, butter, salt, yeast and sugar on a work surface.
  • Bread Flour – I like to use Marriage’s Very Strong White Bread Flour, which is 100 % Canadian flour. This flour has the advantage of being high in protein and so produces more gluten. As a result, the dough holds together well but is also very elastic – perfect for making Portuguese Crusty Bread Rolls.
  • Yeast – I’ve used instant yeast in the recipe, often called fast action or quick yeast. This yeast has the advantage that you can add it directly to your flour.
  • Sugar – You need a small amount of white sugar to get the yeast activated. This is just the right amount without adding too much sweetness to the Papo Secos.
  • Salt – I like to use sea salt as it contains less sodium than regular salt but any fine salt will work.
  • Butter – I used softened unsalted butter
  • Water – lukewarm water is best, that is, you should be able to comfortably dip your finger into your water. Cold water will work but it will take longer for the bread to rise.

REMEMBER – too high a temperature will kill your yeast and just like us, yeast works best at around 37°C / 98°F .

How to make Portuguese Bread Rolls | Papo Secos

For full instructions see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Make Your Dough

  • I use my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer. All you have to do is add the ingredients and set on a slow speed for 10 minutes. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, check it using the window pane test.
  • Equally, the dough can be hand mixed together in a bowl and then kneaded on a counter top. You will get the same results.
4 step process making dough, ingredients in bowl, just mixed, smooth dough and a piece of dough being stretched.

First prove

  • Place your dough in a large greased bowl and cover.
  • Leave to rest in a warm place for at least one and a half hours or until doubled in size.
2 bowls, one with unrisen dough and one with risen dough.

Second Prove

  • Take the bread dough out of the bowl and give it 3 gentle folds. Taking care not to deflate all the air in the doughPlace the dough back in the bowl, cover and prove again for another 30 minutes.
Folding dough and dough in a greased bowl.

How To shape Portuguese Rolls

  • Transfer the dough to an oiled work surface and stretch out into a log shape. Divide into 8 or 12 equal pieces.
  • Shape each piece into a smooth ball by rolling in between the cup of your hand and the work surface.
  • Place on a baking tray dusted with flour. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
Dividing dough, pinching into balls, rolling in hand and placed on a baking tray.
  • Dust your work surface with flour and individually flatten each dough ball to form a circle.
  • Use the side of your hand or a wooden spoon to press along the centre of each circle to make a deep crease.
  • Pull each end of the crease and stretch the dough into an oval shape.
  • Fold in half along the crease and twist the ends to a point.
  • Place on a baking tray and press the points of each roll.
  • Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Flattening, creasing, tugging, folding, twisting and pressing to shape bread rolls.

Baking Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 240°C and place a shallow baking tin in the bottom of the oven. You add hot water to this tin when you put your rolls in to bake.
  • Dust risen rolls with flour.
Bread being dusted with flour ready for baking.
  • Place your bread rolls in the oven and then quickly pour a cup of hot water into the baking tin. Gently close the oven door.
Adding hot water to a tin at the bottom of an oven with bread in it.
  • Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
  • Turn your oven down to 220°C and continue baking until golden brown.
Crusty rolls being taken out of a hot oven.
  • Tip your rolls onto a cooling rack and tap the base of the bread to check it is cooked. It should sound hollow.
Crusty buns on a cooling rack.

How to Serve

These crusty bread rolls are perfect for sandwich fillings, your favourite burger, pulled pork or served with a warming soup.

How to make Nando’s Garlic Bread

Ingredients

  • Portuguese Bread Rolls cut in half horizontally
  • Garlic Butter Topping – half clove garlic – crushed, 50 g salted butter and 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Instructions for Nando’s Garlic Bread

A split Portuguese roll spread with garlic butter on a baking tray.
  • Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C fan / 425° °F / 400 °F fan.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan on a low heat and add the crushed garlic. Continuing warming for one minute and remove from the heat.
  • Add chopped parsley to your cooled butter and garlic and spread the cut faces of the bread rolls.
  • Place on a lined baking tray cut faces up and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until golden brown.
Homemade Nando's garlic bread freshly baked on a tray.

How Long Do They Keep ?

Like most homemade bread, fresh is best but Portuguese Bread Rolls will keep for a couple of days.

A wicker basket filled with crusty buns.

Can I Freeze Them ?

These crusty bread rolls freeze well. Make sure your rolls are fully cooled and place in a freezer bag before freezing for up to three months.
I recommend baking from frozen for 5 minutes at 200°C. This way you’ll be enjoying crusty bread rolls almost as good as if they were freshly baked.

More Bread Recipes You Might Like….

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A wicker basket filled with Papo Secos and a wooden board with shaped rolls on it.
A wicker basket filled with Portuguese Bread Rolls AKA Papo Secos.

Portuguese Bread Rolls | Papo Secos

My Portuguese Bread Rolls AKA Papo Secos are crusty on the outside with a light and airy interior. Perfect for sandwiches, dipping in a soup or spread with a generous curl of butter.
This is my take on traditional Portuguese Rolls. Easy to make whilst still delivering a delightful crust and a soft and fluffy inside.
4.98 from 87 votes
Print Pin Rate this Recipe Save Recipe
Course: bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: Portuguese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Proving time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 217kcal
Author: Sarah James

Equipment

  • stand mixer – I use my KitchenAid or knead by hand.
  • Mixing Bowl
  • large baking tray / sheet lined with parchment paper
  • shallow baking tin

Ingredients

  • 600 g very strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt / kosher salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp instant yeast I use Dove’s Farm
  • 50 g softened butter 4tbs
  • 350 ml tepid water

Instructions

Make Your Dough

  • By hand: Mix the flour, softened butter, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Add a little water. Mix thoroughly, adding a little water at a time until you have formed a ball of dough.
  • Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Check your dough is ready by using the windowpane test.
  • KitchenAid: Add flour, softened butter, salt, sugar and yeast to the mixing bowl, make a well and add the water.
  • Mix for 1 to 2 minutes on slow speed number 1.
  • Turn up to number 2 speed for a further 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Check your dough is ready by using the windowpane test.

First prove

  • Place your dough in a large greased bowl and cover.
  • Leave to rest in a warm place for at least one and a half hours or until doubled in size.

Second Prove

  • Take the bread dough out of the bowl and give it 3 gentle folds. Taking care not to deflate all the air in the dough.
  • Place your dough back in the bowl, cover and prove again for another 30 minutes.

Shape Your Dough

  • Transfer the dough to an oiled work surface and stretch out into a log shape. Divide into 8 or 12 equal pieces, approx 125g for large rolls or 95g to 100g for standard.
  • Pull each piece into a ball, pinching it together to seal. Then roll between the cup of your hand and the work surface to produce a smooth ball.
  • Place each dough ball on a baking tray lined with baking parchment or silicone mat and dusted with flour. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Dust your work surface with flour and flatten each dough ball in turn so it becomes a circle.
  • Use the side of your hand or a wooden spoon to press along the centre of each dough circle. You are looking to make a deep crease.
  • Pull each end of the crease to make an oval shape.
  • Fold in half along the crease and twist the ends to a point.
  • Place on a baking tray and press the twisted points of each roll.
  • Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 240°C / 220°C fan / 475 °F / 425 °F fan and place a shallow baking tin in the bottom of the oven.
  • Dust risen rolls with flour.

Baking Instructions

  • Place your baking tray of bread rolls in the oven and then quickly pour a cup of hot water into the pre-heated baking tin. Gently close the oven door.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 240°C / 220°C fan / 475 °F / 425 °F fan
  • Turn your oven down to 220°C / 200°C fan / 425 °F / 400 °F fan and continue baking.
  • Large rolls: 15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Standard rolls: 10 minutes until golden brown.
  • Tip your rolls onto a cooling rack and tap the base of the bread to check it is cooked, it should sound hollow.

Notes

  • Makes 8 large or 12 standard rolls. Calories are calculated for one standard size Portuguese Roll.
  • Don’t be tempted to add too much water to the baking tin. One cupful is enough to create steam at the beginning of baking which is all you need. Too much steam throughout baking and you can end up with a thick tough crust.
  • Like most homemade bread, fresh is best but Portuguese Bread Rolls will keep for a couple of days.
  • These crusty bread rolls freeze well. Make sure your rolls are fully cooled and place in a freezer bag before freezing for up to three months.
  • To keep the bread rolls crusty after freezing I would recommend baking from frozen for 5 minutes at 200°C / 180°C fan / 400°F / 350 °F fan.
  • Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 418mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 0.004mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Recipe Rating




Kara

Sunday 14th of April 2024

I live in on Ottawa and can't find where to purchase Marriage’s Very Strong White Bread Flour. Where do you buy it please 🙏

Sarah James

Thursday 18th of April 2024

Hi Kara, thanks for getting in touch. Marriage's Very Strong White Bread Flour is Canadian flour, I use it because it has a higher protein content. Here in the UK it is more difficult to source but I'm guessing that in Canada your bread flour is perhaps homegrown. A bread flour with 16% protein is suitable. Apologies for the late reply, I've been travelling to stay with family in Guernsey. First day back at my computer, hope this helps, Sarah.

Brittany

Tuesday 27th of February 2024

Flavor brings me back to where I grew up in Jersey, which is exactly what I wanted. I loved going to the bakery and getting Portuguese rolls fresh! Mine lost their shape and the outside isn't as soft but it was my first time making them! Flavor profile is perfect! Now I need to make adjustments to get them to be perfect! Any suggestions on how I can get them to hold their shape?

Sarah James

Wednesday 28th of February 2024

Hi Brittany, thanks for getting in touch. It's good to hear the Portuguese rolls' flavour is perfect for you and reminds you of Jersey. The baked rolls should have a firm crust and a soft inside. In terms of losing shape, a few things spring to mind: Gluten development gives the dough strength - check your dough has been kneaded enough. The window pane test is a good indicator. Did your dough double in size on first rise ? Again, this relates to gluten development. On the other hand, if your dough is over-proved you'll lose structure within the dough. In an over warm environment your dough or shaped rolls may be ready quicker than the time stated. Too much water ? If your dough was very sticky to start with, try adding a little less water. Flours can differ in how much water they need to form a dough. Hope this helps, Sarah.

Albert Smith

Monday 22nd of January 2024

Hello,thanks for the recipe. My rolls came out looking lovely, but they were a bit dense. I know they should be on the lighter side and a bit airy. I used all purpose flour and will continue to work on the recipe because a fresh Portuguese Roll is fantastic. Any suggestions on why they dense? I am sure it could be anything from the flour, yeast, proofing time and more.. thanks!

Sarah James

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Hi Albert, thanks for getting in touch. The first thing that springs to mind is the flour you're using. My recipe recommends extra strong white bread flour. I like to use Marriage’s Very Strong White Bread Flour, which is 100 % Canadian flour. This flour has the advantage of being high in protein and so produces more gluten. As a result, the dough holds together well but is also very elastic. Perfect for making Portuguese Crusty Bread Rolls light and airy. If you can't get hold of Marriage's flour, look for a flour with around 15 % protein. I'd try an extra strong white bread flour and see how you get on. Hope this helps, Sarah. PS. I have used all purpose flour (which has 10 % protein) to make flat breads and pizzas as it gives a denser texture.

David Heuchan

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

Sarah, your recipe for Portuguese rolls are the best I have made , The only problem I have is the top is a little bit on the soft side Can you help?

David Heuchan

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

@Sarah James, Thank you very much for answering I will try that

Sarah James

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

Hi David, I'm pleased to hear you've got on so well with making Portuguese rolls. In response to your query, I would recommend using an oven thermometer to check the internal temperature of your oven, most oven temps vary from oven to oven. You may find you have to bake your rolls at 10 degrees higher or you could just bake for an extra 5 minutes. Usually, the initial 10 minute blast of steam and heat at 240°C / 220°C fan / 475 °F / 425 °F fan before baking at a lower temperature is enough to get a crispy crust in my Neff oven. Hope this helps, Sarah.

Emerald

Monday 9th of October 2023

Thank you so much for this recipe. I made them tonight. My husband and I enjoyed their texture and taste very much.

Sarah James

Monday 9th of October 2023

You're most welcome, it's always a pleasure to share my recipes. Thanks for taking time to comment and it's great to hear you enjoyed your Portugueses Rolls, Sarah.