Bolillos – Mexican baguettes

I had a suggestion from a viewer to make some Bolillos, which I hadn’t heard about before.  So I did some research.  Bolillos are bread rolls, which are very popular in Mexico.  They are based on French baguettes those lovely crusty loaves which are nice and soft inside.  From what I read, and saw in videos, Bolillos are very similar, though maybe not as crusty as the French baguettes.  Several recipes I saw definitely had a nice crust but some were ‘squeezy’ soft on the outside.  Which is the authentic version I am not sure, though I tend to the view that to be like a baguette there needs to be some crispness to the crust. 

Bolillos have a specific shape which is similar to a rugby ball or an American football, an oval which is thicker in the middle and goes to a sort of point at the ends. 

To achieve that the bread is steamed whilst baking.  A pan of water in the bottom of the oven provides steam and spraying the rolls before they go in the oven starts them off nicely.

The process is fairly straightforward, but does take a little time as the dough needs to prove after kneading and then again after shaping.  But it is certainly worth the effort if you end up with fresh baked rolls.  They will be perfect for lunch in my case.   These are definitely rolls which are best eaten on the day they are baked. They can also be frozen either before baking, or after ,if you dont intend eating all of them on the day.  They can also be refreshed the next day by putting them in a heated oven for a few minutes.

Gladly mine turned out very well, they were nice and crusty when they came out of the oven and softened as they cooled down.  I think that is how the ones I saw in videos appeared to work too. As for taste, I really enjoyed them, very much indeed with butter and ham. for my lunch.

Note:  I did some research on how to maintain the crispy exterior and came up with a solution from the KingArthurFlour blog.  They suggest baking the items, then turning off the oven.  Then transfer the items from the baking tray onto the wire rack in the oven.  Then wedge open the door of the oven and allow the items to cool in that position.  That will, apparently, allow any residual moisture inside the bread to be released without softening the crust.
I will be trying that very soon.

Bolillos – Mexican Baguettes

Bolillos – Mexican Baguettes – Video

Ingredients:

  • 500g(4 cups) strong white bread flour
  • 7g(1/4 oz or 1 packet) active dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp(12 g) caster sugar
  • 300ml(1 1/4 cups) lukewarm water(not hotter than 43C/110F)
  • 56g(4tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Place the yeast and half the sugar into the water and stir, then leave for about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate and the mixture will become frothy.
  2. Place the flour, salt and remaining sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer(you can do all this by hand if you wish) and add the yeast mixture and the butter.
  3. Knead with the dough hook, on medium speed, for about 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, leaving the sides clean.  Scrape down the bowl early on to help the flour get mixed in.
  4. If the dough is not coming away cleanly from the sides of the bowl add a little more flour as the dough needs to be tacky not sticky.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl, to a lightly floured work surface and turn it in on itself a few times in the process of forming into a ball.
  6. Place the dough into a greased bowl, ensuring the whole ball of dough is lightly covered in the oil, and then cover and allow to prove in a draught free environment for about 1 to 1.5 hours and the dough has doubled in size.
  7. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal pieces.
  8. Shape each piece into a ball, using a cupped hand to roll it into that shape.
  9. Cover with a damp tea towel, or plastic wrap, and leave for 15 minute to rest.
  10. After 15 minutes flatten each ball into an oval shape, then roll one long edge up onto the dough and pull the other long edge up on top of it.  Roll to seal the dough edge, with hand angled to create a point at each end and the middle to be thicker.  The dough should be about 6 inches(15cm) in length.
  11. Place each rolled dough onto a baking sheet, leaving a good space between each(I used two baking sheets.
  12. Cover with loosely with plastic wrap,or a damp towel and leave to double in size again(about an hour).
  13. While they double in size preheat the oven to 230C/210C Fan/450F and place a metal pan on the bottom of the oven.
  14. When the rolls have doubled in size take a very sharp knife and cut a slit along the top of the rolls, from 1/2 in from each end, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
  15. Spray the top of the rolls with water.
  16. Place the baking sheets into the oven and pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan on the floor of the oven.
  17. Bake for 20 minutes, until the rolls have formed a nice crust and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
  18. Remove from the oven and allow to cool of a wire rack. If you want to try to maintain the crisp crust see the note above, on that subject.

2 Comments

  1. Hello Geoff, today I found your YouTube channel. I’m enjoying it a lot. I’ve been researching about bolillo rolls and I wanted to share with you a few notes that maybe will be of some benefit or interest to you. Although I have to say I find your recipe is pretty on point. Using bread flour helps to have a better oven spring or a mix of bread and all purpose flour. I’m using 50/50. Majority of bakeries in Mexico use dough improver. I choose to avoid additives if not truly necessary. A really good bolillo is supposed to have a thin crunchy and crackly crust similar to the Vietnamese Bahn Mi which is very hard to achieve in home settings but steam at the beginning of baking helps. Also changing from conventional mode to convection after 8-10 min of baking to speed up drying out the crust. Single pan baking also recommended to improve air circulation. When shaping them I find that rolling and pressing is more effective than folding twice to achieve better tension, higher bolillos and a nice open cut. Oh and using the perforated baguette trays is a plus. I’m about to receive one in the mail. Finally with the same dough you can make teleras which is oval kind of flattened bread very popular too. I think is a great roll shape. It reminds me a pizza that you can stuff as a sandwich. I’m of Hispanic heritage but not Mexican. My apologies for the long comment. I never do this but today you motivated me. Thank you for your videos and recipes. Best!

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