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.
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.
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
- 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.
- Switch to the dough hook and add 6 more ounces of the flour. Mix on low for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Deflated the dough, recover the container with plastic wrap, and let it rise again in a cool spot for about 3 hours, until doubled.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Spray the rolls with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds.
- Bake the rolls for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Bolillos from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Cemitas from The Bread She Bakes
- Conchas de Pan Dulce from Cake Duchess
- Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread) from Hostess At Heart
- Mexican Cemitas from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Pan de Muerto from A Shaggy Dough Story
- Teleras (Flat Bread Rolls) from girlichef
- Whole Wheat Mexican Bolillos from Kudos Kitchen By Renee