Mexican Bolillos (bread rolls)
Pronounced “bo-lee-yo”. These large rolls have a nice crusty exterior and a soft, fluffy interior. Ideal for torta sandwiches, or even just with butter in the morning.
- 2 cups of warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) of active dry yeast
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) of butter or shortening, softened
- 1 egg white
- 2 dozen ice cubes
Making a starter
- In a small bowl or container, combine the yeast with 1 cup of the water.
- Let the yeast and water sit for five minutes before stirring in 1 cup of the flour.
- Mix well, then cover and place the container into the refrigerator.
- Leave the starter in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
Making the dough
- In a large mixing bowl (or your electric mixer bowl), combine your starter with the remaining flour, salt, sugar, and butter (or shortening).
- Knead the dough for 15 minutes (7-8 minutes in an electric mixer), or until the dough separates from the bowl.
- Place the dough on a working surface and form into a ball.
- Grease a bowl with the oil, then place the dough inside. Add a little more oil to coat the ball.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and place in a warm place for 2-3 hours, allowing the dough to double in size.
- Using your fists, gently push the dough in to release the air, then pull it out of the bowl on to your working surface.
- Divide your dough into ten pieces, cover with towels, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
- Form the pieces into your desired shape. Place each finished roll back in its resting spot.
- Cover the rolls and allow them to rise again for an hour.
Baking the rolls
- Pre-heat your oven to 450°. Set up your shelves with one at the very bottom and one in the middle. Place a shallow pan on the bottom shelf.
- Using a sharp knife, make a deep cut down the middle of each roll before arranging on a baking sheet.
- Lightly brush your rolls with the egg white.
- When you're ready to bake, place 12 ice cubes on that lower pan in the oven, then place your sheet of rolls in on the middle shelf.
- Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until they gain a golden brown color.
- Place your hot rolls on a wire rack to cool.
The purpose of the starter is help the final dough gain size and fluffiness, so you hopefully do not end up with dull, dense rolls.
If you have access to a standalone mixer, I'd strongly urge you to use it. It'll save you a lot of work.
Be careful with the type of yeast you use. If you're using Rapid-Rise yeast, then use 2 tbsp of it. If you're using Active Dry in the packets (as I do) then just use one packet or 2 1/4 tsp.
A damp towel over the rising dough will create moisture and allow the yeast to do it's work better.
When I say "desired shape", it's entirely on you. You can go from small ovals to simple circles, depending on what you want to use them for.
Don't overlook the ice. The steam generated in your hot oven is necessary for the rolls to bake perfectly, or else you end up with flour-based stones. Use about 10-12 ice cubes per batch you put in the oven, and don't use water as a substitute.