The Cemitas from Puebla (Cemitas Poblanas)

Speaking of mexican sandwiches, the cemitas are truly a classic one cannot afford to miss... Basically a "Cemita" is defined by its special type of crusty bread rolls, that are salty with a firm dough and covered with some sesame seeds. We could see it as a hybrid between the European baguette bread and the Italian ciabatta. The cemita is then sliced, garnished with massive amounts of food: fresh avocado, some sliced thin white cheese or string cheese, sliced ​tomatoes and onions... and then a long list of other possible ingredients: pickled peppers, breaded milanese steak, ham, beef...

The cemitas from Puebla have their own popular history, maybe this is a legend who knows; the direct lineage of the recipe of the cemita rolls is said to be eminently Iberian and daughter of two varieties of bread that were produced during the colonial period, for the Spanish Crown, in the city of Puebla: a bizcocho, and the panecillos, very similar to the French baguettes who became popular during the French military intervention against Mexico (1863-1867).

Both breads were then stacked and stored for later consumption and often shipped to Spain and the Philippines, so these bread rolls had to last and be good for four to eight months. Thus they were made with a different kind of flour from the vicinity of Puebla, and we have to thank bakeries in Cholula and Izúcar of Matamoros for keeping the tradition of making cemitas alive...

Where did the name Cemitas come from? Some see the name of this special bread as originating in the traditional unleavened bread of the Jews (Cemitas sounds like Semitic), brought to Spain by the Judeo-Spanish population present there since the time of the Roman Empire; otherwise more credible sources tell us that this name comes after the old spanish word for bran, acemite...

Recipe for the Cemitas Poblanas


For the bread rolls themselves:
* 1 and 1/4 cups [150 grams] Corn Flour
* 1 and 1/4 cups [150 grams] wheat flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 7 tablespoons [100 grams] butter
* 2 teaspoons Dry Yeast, or 20 grs. Fresh Yeast
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 egg yolk and tablespoon milk, for the glaze
* sesame

For what we will garnish the cemitas with, we need part of or all of the items below:
* Steak Milanese, or use same procedure for pounded, and breaded chicken milanese breasts
* Seasoned Refried Beans
* String cheese
* 2 avocados, sliced (this is important)
* Red tomatoes
* Pickled peppers
* Sour cream


1) First, making the bread rolls:

Sift the flour and make a shape like a mountain with crater in its center, sprinkle the salt around the crater to avoid a too direct contact with the yeast; mix together the butter, melted, with the yeast and the egg; then mix with milk, which should be warm, at about 104°F [40 °C]; at this temperature you can put your finger in and it will feel warn, not hot, again the yeast will die if this is too hot.

2) Knead this dough, if necessary put more water (but little by little), if instead you put slightly too much liquid and the dough is sticky just sprinkle some flour over the table you're kneading on. then put the dough in an large, oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 30 min to one hour, until the dough has doubled its size.

3) Once the volume has increased, bring it to knead again and now from it extract balls approx 4 inches in diameter; separately mix the egg yolk and a dash of milk and pain this glaze on each dough ball; put them on a floured tray, make two shallow incisions with a knife on each top then sprinkle the sesame seeds over. Bake in the preheated oven, for about 30 min at 350 °F [180 °C] or until their color turns soft hazel and sound hollow inside when gently tapping.

4) Now that we have prepared the bread: slice the bread in halves, spread some refried beans, then the sour cream and over it put chicken milanese. Now top with tomato slices, slices of avocado, Oaxaca or string cheese, if you like pickled peppers then put some in as well...

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