Bolillos

These Mexican hard rolls are shaped like little footballs and they’re perfect alongside a stew or as a platform for a sandwich on the go.

1 tablespoon dry active yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
1 ¾ cups water
¼ cup vegetable oil (olive oil makes a delicious roll)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons salt
5 cups unbleached flour or slightly more as needed

In a small bowl proof the yeast in the ¼ cup lukewarm water with the pinch of sugar and let it sit for 10 minutes or so until it is bubbly and foamy.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 ¾ cup water and the ¼ cup oil with the sugar and salt until it is lukewarm.

Stir in a cup or so of the flour, then add the yeast mixture. Add the rest of the flour a little at a time and knead it on a floured surface until the dough is nice and elastic, adding slightly more flour if needed. Once it is no longer sticky, knead it for another 5 minutes then put it into a well-oiled or buttered bowl, cover and let it rise for about an hour or for an hour and a half. It will double in bulk.

Punch down the dough and divide it into 16 pieces, rolled into a tight ball, slightly bulky in the center and with the ends pointed.

Arrange rolls 3-inches apart on greased baking sheets or use baking parchment. Let them rise until doubled in size in a warm place, loosely covered (about 30 minutes).

While that’s going on, in a small saucepan dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in ½ cup water. Let the liquid boil over moderate heat, and then let it cool. Brush the rolls after they have risen with this mixture.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown and sound hollow when the bottom is tapped. Transfer to a rack and let them cool.

Makes 16 rolls.

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