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Bolillos (Mexican Crusty Rolls)

I am so fortunate to have several amazing Mexican Panaderias in town...all in pretty close vicinity to my  house, actually.  My nose is always blocks ahead of me as I near the bakery...zeroing in on two things...the Conchas and the Bolillos.  I swear I could live on them.  Since I have such a fabulous selection so close to my fingertips, I usually take the easy way out and simply buy my favorite fresh-baked Mexican breads.  Plus, I'm supporting local I can't say I necessarily feel bad about that fact.  But occasionally...I want to try it on my own...just to see if I can make it.  You know.  If need be.  If one day I wake up and the streets are deserted and no tell-tale signs of the early bird bakers are lingering on the air.  It started a while back when I decided to go ahead and make Conchas for the first time.  dios mio...muy rico.  I actually get requests for them all of the time.  Many of those originating in my own house.  But many from beyond our doors, as well.

  I figured it was time to venture into my second favorite...the Bolillo.  Basically it is a large bun or roll that is tapered at the ends.  The version I find in the panaderia is a bigger, softer version than I've made here.  That will be my next venture...because that is my favorite type of bolillo.  It makes such amazing torta bread.  That being said, the version I've made today includes cornmeal, which adds a bit of crunch...and it's a bit smaller.  Perhaps better for eating alongside your meal.  As opposed to putting your meal inside of it.  I found a recipe that I really wanted to try...but wound up decreasing the flour by two whole cups from how it was written.  This could be due to the fact that it is written in cups as opposed to weight.  I measure by the scoop and level method.  In hindsight, I totally should have weighed it as I went along, but... next time.  I wrote the recipe how I made it.  If you feel like you need to add more flour (if dough seems too sticky), then by all means, do so!
Mexican Crusty Rolls
makes: 12-16 rolls

1 Tbs. sugar
14 g. (½ oz.) active dry yeast
2½ c. warm water
½ c. olive oil
1 Tbs. fine sea salt
~5 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. masa harina
½ c. white cornmeal

1 tsp. fine sea salt
¼ c. warm water

white cornmeal, as needed

Place ½ cup of warm water in a large bowl.  Sprinkle in sugar and yeast.  Stir and let mixture sit until it becomes a bit foamy, ~5 mins.  Once mixture is ready, add remaining warm water, oil, salt, 2 cups of flour and stir together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the masa harina and white cornmeal, then gradually add the last 3 cups of flour.  You may need to switch to your hands if the spoon no longer does the job.  Turn dough out onto a work surface (add a bit more flour if it seems sticky) and knead until dough is firm, resilient, and smooth, ~4-5 minutes. 

Oil a large bowl and turn ball of dough in it so that all sides are covered with a thin film of oil.  Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm spot in the kitchen until doubled in size, ~1 hour.
Lightly flour your work surface again and turn dough out of bowl.  Knead for 2 minutes.  Depending on if you'd like larger or smaller buns, divide your dough into 3 or 4 equal portions (to make 12 or 16 bolillos) and then cover all but one portion.  Divide the piece of dough you have left into 4 equal pieces.  Form each dough into a roll shape, then flatten into an oval.  Fold each oval into thirds (like a letter), then pinch ends together to form a spindle shape.  Place each piece of formed dough, seam side down, onto a sheet tray lined with parchment or a silpat and sprinkled with extra cornmeal.  Repeat process.
Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place for ~30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375° F during last 15 minutes of rising time.  

Combine warm water and salt for the wash and lightly brush over risen dough.  Slash the side of the dough with a sharp knife, ~¼" deep.  Lightly pinch the end of the rolls again.
Bake for ~25 minutes or until rolls are a pale golden color and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Remove them to a wire rack to cool.
Cornmeal is not always added to bolillos, but I like this version almost as much as the version without it.  It atually adds a nice bit of texture...almost a crunch...when you bite into the bread.  Serve alongside your meal or cut and use as the bread for a Torta or Pambaso...or hollow out and make a decide your favorite way of enjoying them!

This post is linked to:
*I am hosting this month's Bread Baking Day...the theme is "CORN"y Breads!
* Yeastspotting!