Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There are many excellent types of bread to eat at breakfast time - buttery biscuits that melt in your mouth, flaky scones with a dusting of sugar, cinnamon rolls swaddled in icing that leave you no choice but to spend the rest of the day on the sofa, recovering.

But sometimes you just want something simple. A hearty bread that will stand up to homemade preserves or even a wedge of cheese. Something without sugar, that could potentially transition to a sandwich if need be.


For those times, I recommend bolillos. They are the most basic form of bread, with flour, water, salt, yeast and a pinch of sugar. There is something comforting about a food whose ingredients I can count on one hand. They emerge from the oven browned and rustic, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. This bread doesn't steal the show, but it's a perfect back up dancer.

bread, dates
{bread, dates}
Bolillos (makes 16 - 20 rolls, from Prairie Home Breads)

1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
6 - 6 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water

* In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup lukewarm water and set aside to proof (see if it gets foamy), about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 5 cups of the flour with the salt and sugar. Pour in the yeast mixture and the additional 2 cups lukewarm water and stir until the dough forms a ball (I do this in my stand mixer, but you can also do it by hand with a wooden spoon).

* Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 - 8 minutes, adding more flour if the dough gets too sticky to handle. The dough should be nice and smooth when you're done. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Because I wanted the rolls for breakfast, I did this the night before, popped it in the fridge overnight and then pulled it out when I woke up in the morning to let it warm up a bit).

* Grease two baking sheets and set aside (or use your Silpat). Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough in half and divide each half into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten it with your hand into a 4 inch oblong football shape. Place about one inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, cover with slightly damp kitchen towels and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. (I find rolls this large to be slightly intimidating at breakfast time, so I made mine a bit smaller and left them round instead of oblong).

* Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. With a serrated knife, cut a 1 inch deep slash down the center of each roll. Brush with canola oil, if desired (I didn't bother). Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.


  1. OMG this freshly baked bread with a wedge of cheese would be heaven right now.

  2. prairie home breads sounds like a book i need to read!

  3. i've never made rolls, but these little guys are certainly going on my to-do list. they look so perfect and i love their versatility.

  4. that short list of ingredients makes a really good argument for bolillos.

  5. oh! with jam, maybe! do you think i could pull these off? if i baked them on sunday, would they be good through the work week, or only the first day or two? you are my hero.

  6. Great photos - especially the ones of the beautiful tulips, my favourite!

  7. Those sound great! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  8. These sure looks delicious. Great photos too!

  9. I don't know, man, it sort of did steal the show. He-Mouse has asked for me to make those rolls three times now, and we've only been home for about a minute and a half. :)

  10. sandwich-potential rolls are my favorite kind! thanks, rachel! you never disappoint.

  11. rachel, just had a thought.. do you have any advice for me if i'm wanting to learn the rules of letting bread rise? how long is too long? what happens if it's not long enough? and things of that sort?

    i love making my own bread and i always wonder at the rising time. my guessing hasn't really ever ended in disaster, but i still think i should learn the real way.

    sorry to bother you with this, but since i know you to be an ace bread baker, i thought you might be able to help!


  12. jamie, these will definitely hold up for three days or so, but probably not much longer. they freeze really well though, so if you don't mind defrosting enough for a couple days at a time, you'd be good to go. homemade bread doesn't last very long because it has no preservatives. and these guys don't have any fat, which is a natural preservative.

    summer, i generally just follow the recipe guidelines for rising time, and i'll let it rise for less time is it's really warm and give it more if it's cold. there are probably pro ways to tell when your bread is done rising, but i just eyeball it to see if it looks like it's about doubled in size. it's important not to let it over rise right before you bake it, because then it doesn't bake up as well. so i err on the cautious side.

  13. omg. with humboldt foggy cheese and dates, no less. you are a goddess. my personal idol of the domestique. recipe bookmarked for next week when i come up for air.

    and re. the unwashed hair thing...yeah, i decided to leave the part about having really, seriously dirty hair out of the story, but you know EXACTLY what i mean.

    and i would be over-the-moon if you and dustykins came to the show! over the MOON! but hark, the family bdunkadunk party calleth. xoxo.

  14. Looks incredible - bread is something I never make... probably because it is my weakness and I'd eat the loaf in one sitting.

  15. I can't wait to try these! Bread + cheese + dates = amazing combo.

  16. Wow, this looks SO GOOD!! You're making me hungry!! I'll definitely have to try this :)


  17. YUM YUM!! I can already taste it - warm out of the oven with some jam and cheese.

    I shouldn't have read this at work, cuz now I want to go home to make them!

  18. I've been working my way through "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" making loafs and baguettes, but it hadn't even occurred to me to make rolls! Guess what I'll be making next time? Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  19. I've been looking for the perfect bread for eating cheese, making sandwiches, and generally having around for dinner. This looks like it might be it! I can't wait to try it. Thanks!

  20. oh my... this looks delicious! we are currently renovating our kitchen and are without an oven. i can't wait until it's all done and i can start doing some baking!

  21. Whoa, this looks really good.

  22. Just made these and so unbelievably delicious. I got over my fear yeast and am in love.


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