If you want to truly torture a South African expat* ask them about Prego Rolls.
For a moment you’ll see a memory pass across their eyes. And if you were so inclined you could measure their spit production, because for most of us, there’ll be an immediate saliva release – drooling – in anticipation of something good. It’s practically Pavlovian .
The memory will most likely include Saturday mornings heading down to Pick n Pay to buy groceries, and stopping outside to pick up a Prego Roll from someone making them (and possibly pancakes) for a school, church or youth group fund raiser. Or just a family side business. Or if you weren’t a Saturday shopper, you’d find someone at the local fete selling them. Even our local Tuis Neiwerheid (popular home industries shops) used to specially make them on a Saturday.
I’ve tried to make my own Prego Rolls over the many, many years I’ve been in the UK, but it’s never quite the same. I think you need that dry sand smell, baking sun on your back and maybe a Savannah to wash it all down with to completely complete the experience. Well. You do the best you can with what you have.
A lot of people don’t know this, but South Africa has quite a strong Portuguese influence. In school we were taught that Jan van Riebeeck ‘founded’ South Africa in 1652 – which I always took to mean he discovered it. It was only later that I realised that actually the first ‘discoverer’ of South Africa was Bartolomeu Dias – a Portuguese explorer, all the way back in 1488.
Remember this: “In 1652, het die wind gewaai, toe kom ek met my skippie in by Tafelbaai. Die wind het so gewaai, ons was almal op ‘n klomp. En so kry hy die naam die Kaap van Storms.”
So why the history lesson? Well, most people have eaten or at least seen a Nando’s restaurant at some point. Did you know that it was a chain started in South Africa? By a Portuguese South African. It is to South African food what curry is to British food! People should know this! **
Prego Rolls are Portuguese Rolls – Carcaças Rápidas – dusted in flour, filled with red wine and garlic marinated flash fried steaks, topped with piri piri sauce – or not, and aragula (rocket) – or not. It all depends on who is making and who is eating. Hmmm.. drooling, yep, drooling here.
A few years ago I was living temporarily in Australia, and trying to convince a friend that she needed a Thermomix®. Her husband, Jimmy, was very against it, and highly disbelieving when I told him he could even make Portuguese Rolls in it. (Jimmy is from Mozambique. His mother lives with them, and speaks only Portuguese). Jimmy didn’t believe I could make the rolls in the Thermomix®, so when we had a New Year’s picnic a few weeks later, I took along a basket of fresh Portuguese Rolls (those in the picture). Jimmy couldn’t believe I’d made them in the Thermomix®. I did see him have two! (Jenny and Jimmy now own a Thermomix®!) So, how do you make these delicious, soft, crusty, light and fluffy Portuguese Rolls?
Here’s the recipe I use!
- 200g warm water
- 120g milk
- 20g butter (or vegetable oil)
- 2 (5ml) teaspoons dried yeast
- 5g sugar
- 500g baker's flour (strong white bread flour)
- 1.5 tsp salt (5ml teaspoon)
- Add the water, milk, butter (or oil), yeast and sugar to the Thermomix® bowl
- Bloom for 2 mins/37C/Speed 2. (NO MC)
- Add the flour and the salt.
- Mix for 3 mins on the dough setting.
- In the meantime prepare a glass bowl or Thermoserver by sprinkling flour into it and swirling it around. Add the kneaded dough and set aside until it doubles in size - around 30 - 40 mins.
- Divide the dough into 12 parts and form a ball from each. Place on a flour dusted oven tray and flour each breadroll too.
- Cut a slash into each breadroll from one side to the other, and leave it for another 30 minutes or until it's looking nice and puffy again. Heat the oven to 180C
- Bake for 10 mins until it looks lightly browned, and allow to cool slightly.
- Save for later, or eat straight away with melted butter.
- Add the water, milk, butter (or oil) and yeast and sugar to a bowl and set aside for up to 10 mins.
- Add the flour and salt and mix to combine.
- Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky and pliable.
- Set aside for 30 minutes till doubled in size.
- Split the dough into 12, form balls and slice slashes into each ball. Place on a floured surface and sprinkle flour on top.
- Set aside for another 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and bake for 10 minutes
- Leave to cool slightly before serving
*most of us. obviously we’re not all exactly the same.
** I’m really touch on this point. I have no idea why.