May 5, 2015

Mexican Cemita Rolls

Cemita rolls for Cemitas de Puebla, a Mexican sandwich street food

Cemitas are rolls used for the torta (sandwich) with the same name. They originated as a street food in the historical city of Puebla, Mexico. Cemitas de Puebla are usually filled with avocado, salsa roja, papalo (a local herb), onions, panela cheese, and pounded and pan-fried beef or pork. It's a taco on a bun! Check out the anatomy of the sandwich in this article.

While most people here in Southern California are more familiar with tortas made with crusty bolillos, the Mexican version of a French baguette, cemitas trucks are springing up everywhere. You can also find lots of hole-in-the-wall restaurants selling comidas poblanos, including authentic cemitas.

Cemita rolls for Cemitas de Puebla, a Mexican sandwich street food

The traditional recipe calls for using lard, which gives the rolls an amazing aroma (faintly reminiscent of.... bacon. Bacon!). You can also use butter or shortening.

These are soft on the inside, and slightly crispy on the outside. I have some pork marinating, some panela cheese chilling, and some avocados ripening so I can make a cemita de Puebla.

Cemita rolls for Cemitas de Puebla, a Mexican sandwich street food

This month the #TwelveLoaves bread baking group is making Mexican bread. Heather, of the blog girlichef, encouraged us to do our research and choose something Mexican, not Tex-Mex or Southwest. I scoured the Interwebs for information on this bread. I hope I made Heather proud!

After the recipe, check out the rest of the Mexican breads made by the wonderful #TwelveLoaves bread bakers.

Note: This recipe calls for fermenting the dough at 65 degrees F. To improvise an ice box, I placed ice packs in my microwave for the first rise, and added cups of ice in the microwave for the second rise. You could also use a picnic cooler or a wine refrigerator.

This recipe has been adapted from Sortachef Wood Fired Kitchen.

Cemita Rolls Recipe


12 ounces water at 100 degrees F
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp lard, butter, or shortening
20 ounces unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1 egg
Sesame seeds


  1. Place the water, yeast, salt, sugar, lard, and 11 ounces of the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the egg and mix with the whisk attachment for 5 minutes on medium. 
  2. Switch to the dough hook and add 6 more ounces of the flour. Mix on low for 5 minutes. 
  3. Continuing to mix on low, add more flour by tablespoon, until you have a soft dough that is tacky but not sticky. I used almost all of the remaining flour. Mix for an additional 5 minutes. 
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a cool spot (65 degrees F) for about 3 to 4 hours, or until doubled. 
  5. Deflated the dough, recover the container with plastic wrap, and let it rise again in a cool spot for about 3 hours, until doubled. 
  6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and form the pieces into small balls. Place them onto an oiled or parchment lined baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes. 
  7. After 30 minutes, press the balls down gently with your fingers to flatten to a one inch thickness. Cover the rolls again with the plastic wrap. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a baking stone placed on the center rack. If you do not have a stone, a baking sheet is fine (no need to preheat the baking sheet). 
  9. Spray the rolls with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. 
  10. Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. 

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess and runs smoothly with the help of Heather of girlichef, and the rest of our fabulous bakers. Our host this month is Heather from girlichef, and our theme is Mexican Breads. For more bread recipes, visit the #TwelveLoaves Pinterest board, or check out last month's mouthwatering selection of #TwelveLoaves Cheese Breads!


  1. You definitely made me proud...and hungry! I'm seriously craving a day of tortas and sweet breads after browsing everybody's fantastic offerings. Your cemitas look awesome, Karen. :)

    1. Thanks so much Heather! Fantastic theme!

  2. I could definitely make a meal out of these rolls! I can imagine some carnita pork and a margarita to chase it down! They came out beautifully!

  3. These look gorgeous (oh, like something you baked WOULDN'T look gorgeous? NEVER!) I love baking with lard, it really does add that "something" that can't be duplicated.

    1. It does! I may actually try it in a pie crust like they used to do it. Lard is coming back!

  4. This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing with #TwelveLoaves.

  5. Your cemita rolls look so great. I'm jealous that you'll be eating pork sandwiches on these beauties!
    Happy Cinco de Mayo. I'm pinning your recipe and hope to try them one day soon.
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    1. Happy Cinco de Mayo to you too Renee! Let me know when you do!

  6. I almost made cemitas!! I think it's great you have cemitas food trucks around your area in delicious! Your cemitas are wonderful, Karen!

  7. I love it when I learn about food from my online friends - and not just recipes. Bonus when one friend is encouraging another. I know nothing about Mexican street food, except what I've learned from reading Pati Jinich's cookbook and listening to her, so this post has vastly increased my understanding of this type of food. and as for cermitas, well your photos are stunning and your descriptions of the sandwich of that name are mouthwatering!


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