French rolls: Bolillos

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

These crispy- crusted rolls, a favorite with foreign visitors to Mexico, are also known as tortas, after the hefty sandwiches that are often made with them, and teleras when they are scored in three sections. In the time of Don Pepe’s great uncles, the residue from the bottom of the pulque barrel was used as a leavening agent, but yeast will be just fine! For 20 bolillos, you’ll need:


  • 8 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 oz.fresh yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups water:

Crumble the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water (85º F) to dissolve.

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center of these ingredients, pour in the dissolved yeast and the water, and stir the mixture thoroughly, but do not knead.

Cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for about two hours. Punch down the dough and knead it very well on a floured board.

Roll it, still kneading, into 20 equally-sized balls.

Brush them with vegetable oil, dust with flour, and flatten them with your hand into oblongs (football shapes.)

The easiest way to score them is in the telera form, making two light indentations (use a narrow dowel or the edge of a very dull knife) running lengthwise down the “football.” This will form three sections. Do not score too deeply.

Place the rolls on baking sheets, cover them and set them in a warm place until they are somewhat less than doubled in bulk.

Bake them in a preheated 360º oven until they are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Oven thermometers vary in their accuracy, so start checking the rolls after about 20 minutes. They should be crispy outside, soft within.

Link to source article:

Mexico’s irresistible bakeries: Las panaderias

Published or Updated on: December 1, 1998 by Karen Hursh Graber © 1998
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