A Wild Take on Birotes Salados (BBB July 2020)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Wild Birotes Salados; playing with the recipe; wildly divergent; fixing the hydration; my reading skills have not really improved; seemingly impossible – my verbosity has increased dramatically; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Birotes Salados (Mexican Sourdough Rolls)

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens. – unknown

Bread on the Table by David Norman
Bread on the Table | Birotes Salados, p222-223
by David Norman
photography by Johnny Autry

We have been happily making wild bread since July 2017 using a starter made with just whole wheat flour and water. I know from reading Elizabeth David’s book English Bread and Yeast Cookery that before commercial yeast was readily available, people used barm (what was left after brewing beer) to leaven their bread. Apparently, this was going on for some time problaby as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

However, aside from using baking powder or commercial yeast, we have never tried using anything but our Jane Mason starter as a leavener for bread. Who knew that we might be asked to try using beer?!! What a concept….

Which is what Karen (Karen’s Kitchen Stories) has suggested we do this month, as per the sourdough created in Guadalajara. (Please be sure to read her post to learn about the history of these rolls.) With that Guadalajaran-like sourdough, our project was to make Mexican breadrolls: birotes salados, using a recipe in David Norman’s excellent book, “Bread on the Table”.

Alas, I’ve never been to Mexico at all, nor have I often had a chance to eat authentic Mexican food. It always sounds so amazingly delicious too! (There are a few decent Mexican restaurants here now, particularly tacorias. But for years, arguably there really were no good Mexican restaurants anywhere north of the 49th parallel.)

But how great that the internet makes it possible for us to travel in virtual reality!

While Mexico City has some exceptional street food, regional cuisine and some truly delicious dishes available at every turn, Guadalajara wins hands down when it comes to dining. Cheesy tacos, the deceptively spicy hangover-busting torta ahogada (a sandwich bathed in spicy sauce, filled with deep fried pork and fresh onions), and the unmissable birria. Plus, Guadalajara’s crispy lonches (a sandwich that uses the regional birote bread) beat Mexico City’s soggy tortas any day!
– Lauren Cocking, Culture Trip | 10 Reasons to Visit Guadalajara Instead of Mexico City
One Thanksgiving at the house of our dear friends, we had the pleasure of sitting next to Mariana McEnroe and her husband, Ian. […] Miriana is a proud Tapatio, what the people from Guadalajara call themselves. When the subject came around to bread and food, the gleam in her eye seemed to turn up two notches as she told be about birote salado and the tortas ahogadas made with them. […] [B]irotes are long, baguette-like rolls made from a sourdough, unique to Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco. […] [T]he [birote] salado, salty with a thick crust and dense, [has a] rather spongy interior that stands up well in the “drowned sandwich,” or torta ahogada.
– David Norman, Bread on the Table | Birotes Salados, p223
I find nothing more satisfying than recreating the unique breads of Latin America in my very own kitchen. I especially love when the bread is meant to be stuffed with savory fillings and drowned in spicy salsa—in Mexico, the torta ahogada is just that. Birote (pronounced bee-row-teh) is a crunchy, darkly baked sourdough bread said to have a flavor unique to the environment of Guadalajara, but if you grab your favorite beer and some limes, you’ll come pretty close!
– Bryan Ford, New World Sourdough: Artisan Techniques for Creative Homemade Fremented Breads | Birote, p60

Bread that makes the gleam in the eyes “turn up two notches”? That’s my kind of bread!

Here’s how things went with making July’s bread (warning, it’s even longer and whinier than usual):

Wild Birotes Salados

BBB Birotes Salados diary:

26 February 2020, 12:05
July Bread – Birotes Salados – Mexican Sourdough Rolls I know it’s early and out of order, but just in case you want to make this before the weather gets too hot in July.
– Karen K, message to BBBabes

Whoohoo! Early announcements are good. And these buns look great!!

But knowing me, I’ll probably leave this to the last minute and the sweltering heat of July (even though, as I watch snow falling today, it seems like summer will never happen). I’m thinking that we might be able to bake them in the barbecue.

The projected snowfall for tonight is bad enough that Environment Canada has issued a warning for the whole of Southern Ontario and posted the following on their website: Light snow is expected to continue this morning and become heavy this afternoon. Heavy snow will then continue through tonight into Thursday morning before tapering to flurries Thursday morning. […] Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow.

Which means I DON’T have to drive 140km east tonight. I just got the following message: *Due to the Winter Storm Warning, for the safety of our players, tonight’s rehearsal has been **CANCELLED**.*

7 March 2020, 16:51
These are “sturdy” rolls and they have a nice sour flavor. You’ll need a couple of days to make them, so plan your timeline in advance (Elizabeth xoxo).
– Karen K, message to BBBabes

Hahahahaha!! I JUST noticed the phrase, “plan your timeline in advance (Elizabeth xoxo)” above! As if that’s going to happen…. :-D

Having a Snow Day was really fun. I did feel a bit guilty though as we sat down to have the most wonderful French Onion Soup.

24 June 2020, 11:48 Good thing Kelly asked something about the measurements. It is reminding me to look at the recipe and remember that I’m supposed to plan ahead more than half a day.

We had a major adventure today. This morning I turned on the washing machine to do one load of laundry. About an hour later, knowing the spin should be long done (it was), I went down to see steam everywhere – back door windows fogged up and hot water spouting onto the ceiling of the basement and back down to rain all over. I couldn’t tell where the water was coming from because my glasses were immediately fogged up and covered in fine spray the moment I went through the basement door.

We couldn’t turn off the hot water tap for the washing machine; it hasn’t been turned off or on for 30 years and has completely ceased up. So we had to turn off the water for the whole house!

After some experimentation with turning the main water tap on and off, it turned out the reason for the spray are two holes in the hose for the washing machine. Cheap thing. It’s only 30 years old.

The kicker is that there was a minor leak in the machine and a repair guy came yesterday to say that the machine really wasn’t worth fixing but it was working just fine – tiny hole in the frame.

Shriek. Because he moved the machine yesterday, it must have opened up the holes in the hose…. He’s coming now to repair the hose….

12:50 Apparently those hoses are supposed to be replaced every 5 years or so. Ha! We’ve NEVER replaced them…. How amazing that they’ve lasted as long as they did!

But, even though the hoses are fixed now, the tiny leak is still there. I guess we may have to get a new washing machine sooner than we hoped. Drat!!!

30 June 2020, 08:43 I imagined I was going to bake these buns today to take to a picnic tomorrow. But, in my usual fashion (Karen knows me so well), I did not plan ahead properly at all. We have zero Mexican lager in the house (we might have some dark ale, but that doesn’t seem right to use).

Also, with my excellent reading skills, I was thinking that I could just skip over the two-step starter. I was going to switch to just one day, But not having developed good reading skills yet, in spite of Karen’s warning for me to plan ahead, I only just noticed that a mere 20 grams of the active starter is used.

Hence (notice how I managed to avoid the now unpopular word “so”?) I found myself echoing a question already asked. Are we reading this correctly? Is it really just 20 grams of active starter?

Happily, our public library has David Norman’s book in the system – both hard cover and e-book. Luckily, it is available, and I now have access to it for 21 days. Here’s what Norman says:

If your starter is already active—either because you just brought a new starter to maturity or you just used it for baking another bread and have been actively feeding it—skip to the final feed step. […]
Final Feed
LEVAIN | 20 grams
David Norman, Bread on the Table | Birotes Salados, p223

Ha!! Look at that. My reading skills aren’t as bad as I thought! Yay. This is exactly what I will do. As soon as we have Mexican lager on hand….

Tomorrow is a holiday though; considering the length of the lines at the beer store the day before a holiday, even when there isn’t a pandemic, I don’t think it’s wise to go to the beer store today. I will wait until Thursday or Friday and make sure that there are 20 grams active starter available….

2 July 2020, 09:50 I looked at our liquor store’s website to see what kind of Mexican beer is available to us: Corona, Modelo, and Sol. But, of course, they may not actually have anything but Corona in stock. Still, I’ll get anything other than Corona if I can.

I also looked at this YouTube video of < a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_IrVUakiBg" class="offsite">Recetas Birote (all in Spanish)

The recipe calls for 3g levadura fresca and
5g masa madre but no cervesa. The masa madre looks like syrup!! It makes me wonder if there is something else called masa madre. I googled to see how to make Masa Madre Ferment, but it looks exactly like a regular wheat starter! Any Mexicans out there who know what that syruppy stuff might be?

5 July 2020, 09:29 Best laid plans, and all that….

I WAS going to be making Birotes Salados dough today. I really was.

But yesterday, in the heat of the moment (actually it was all day – it’s poisonously hot again) things
got out of hand and the 1st step of the Birotes Salados starter got WAY out of hand. (Didn’t Karen warn us about July’s heat??)

Therefore, we did not make fougasse as planned last night. Nor did I begin step 2 of Birotes Salados as planned. Instead, we tried not to wilt as we barbecued what turned out to be delicious chicken with toaster-oven roasted potatoes, baked beans, and Swiss chard.

Before dinner, to comfort ourselves, we rode our bikes to the beer store to get beer to go with dinner. While we were there, we were thrilled to be able to get a can of Sol for the Birotes Salados. (We thought we were going to get Dos Equis, but it turned out they had just sold out.)

I would always rather stay sober than drink a Corona, but I shouldn’t hastily dismiss all Mexican beers because of its faults. […] Dos Equis Amber Lager (4.7 percent ) poured a deep amber, which made the sweet flavor fairly surprising.
      It had only a light malt and caramel flavor and no hops, lending this beer a slight, but not overpowering sweetness. A mild latent bitterness evened out the malt, leaving a fairly balanced flavor.
      The carbonation was light, the aftertaste was pretty much nonexistent.
– Samir Sheth, The Bowdoin Orient | Mexican Beer? Go for Dos Equis or Tecate, but don’t forget the limes, 6 April 2012

Sol is a traditional Mexican brew that dates back to 1924. […] It’s rich without being heavy, with a good mouthfeel and a comforting, light creaminess. It’s lightly bitter and doesn’t venture into the sweet arena at all. The name is quite apt: It’s sunshine bright and quite relaxing, with no skunkiness to it at all.
– Christopher Null, Drink Hacker | “https://drinkhacker.com/2008/12/17/review-sol-mexican-beer/” class=”offsite”>Review: Sol Mexican Beer (2008)

Review: Sol Mexican Beer (2008)

Ha! That makes me feel okay…. And so does this:

[W]hen already made alcohol such as beer is used in the baking process, it will not kill the yeast. […] The opposite is true. Alcohol will help the bread rise. As the bread bakes it will release the gas bubble which will help the bread continue to rise.
– George, Breadopedia | Does Alcohol Kill Yeast In Bread?

12:54 As an experiment this morning, I took a small amount of our active starter for tonight’s fougasse and put it into a small container along with 20 grams water and 20 grams unbleached all-purpose flour. Just to see if it would do anything. If it does, I’ll use white flour in our Birotes Salados starter; if it doesn’t, I’ll transgress with whole wheat flour.

Because it’s so warm in the kitchen, I also added 15 grams each of whole wheat flour and water to our fougasse starter. This makes it so we won’t have to bake fougasse in the middle of the day in the brief time in our otherwise deeply shady garden that the sun is blazing down on the barbecue.

I’ve just mixed the fougasse dough now. The all-purpose flour experiment has spread out like a puddle at the bottom of its bowl, but otherwise hasn’t shown any signs of life.

6 July 2020, 08:49 Meltdown!! Last night… can’t say any more than that…. It’s enough to note that there will be no birotes salados today. I’ll make them on Wednesday.

Maybe, by a miracle, the weather office is wrong (because they never are ;-) ) and a cold front will come through tonight and the temperature will drop 5 or 6 degrees. (It only went down to about 20C last night and was already 25C at 8:00am. There is a heat warning for us today; it’s going up to 32C with a humidex of 36C. With everyone still working at home, the ACs are all blasting. Watch; there will be a power outage to add to the misery.)

One of the Freshloafians made the birotes salados recipe and pointed to this lovely video. How cool!! Look how stiff the dough is! And I love the shaping method at around 3:00 on the video. And rats. I sure wish I could understand Spanish… I’d love to know what the historian is saying.

As you know (if you’ve ever managed to read more than a paragraph of the zillions and zillions of paragraphs I spew out in just one post), I like to contrast and compare recipes, so looked on the net to find other birote recipes. I found several (in Spanish) that call for fresh yeast, zero beer, and zero sourdough.

The only one I’ve seen so far that calls for sourdough and beer is the YouTube one Karen pointed to.

On the Freshloaf thread, there was mention of “bolillos” and their similarity in looks to birotes salados. After searching for recipes for bolillos, it looks like the only difference between the two breads is that bolillos call for the addition of lard or some sort of fat.

When I used “bolillos cerveza” as search words, I came across some terrific YouTube videos demonstrating how to replace yeast entirely with beer (ie: zero sourdough)! Now, I’m wondering if the sourdough starter is necessary at all. (It’s really hot and humid right now, and our starter is on a different schedule than it normally is, and I’m having difficulty with timing. (In winter, our kitchen is generally around 16C instead of 25C it is presently….)

I’m beginning to consider omitting the sourdough starter entirely and just using beer for step one…. What do you think?

Ha!  And all this because of looking for permission to add the beer on the second day instead of the first!

14 July 2020, 07:29 I really did intend to follow the recipe almost to the letter (the only difference being to use whole wheat flour in the starter). I really did! I also planned to make these buns well in advance of 16 July. And yet, (Karen really does know me so well) here it is Bastille Day and there are still no Birotes Salados made in our house…. But I do have the starter begun!! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be on time. I just hope that it isn’t a complete tale of woe.

In the excessive heat of July, with multiple problems with our starter and/or bread over-rising, and because both of us take its failures as personal offences as we go into tailspins because breakfast/lunch/dinner is ruined, I’ve made an executive decision (so what else is new?) to use the beer in the final dough rather than experimenting with the starter. Additionally, because our Jane Mason starter appears to loathe all-purpose flour, refusing to do anything with it except sit in a small exactly-the-same-size puddle from beginning to until only alcohol forms, I’ve decided to feed with 100% whole wheat flour, as usual.

Fingers crossed that I haven’t strayed too far with my crazed calculations!

12:25 I just mixed the dough. It looks right…. And I’m so pleased that the starter floated at noon, even though it was floating early this morning just before I added 10 grams each of more water and flour. Yay!!

15:25 Wow, that is stiff dough, in comparison to what we usually make! It’s pretty slow too. I’ve stretched and folded twice now. It’s beautifully smooth but quite dense. (I wonder if I shouldn’t add a little bit of water….)

15:31 I just looked to see what hydration percentage others use and found the following:

I think I’m right that his hydration is 65% Baker’s percentage….

Hmmmm. We don’t have any limes (at least I don’t think we do.) But should I maybe add a little lemon juice? And a little more water to up the hydration from 55% to 65%?

Mexican lime Citrus aurantifolia […] Mexican lime is known by many names such as Key lime, Bartender’s lime, and West Indian lime. […] The fruits are small, approximately one and one-half inches in diameter, and almost round, with a thin, smooth, greenish-yellow rind at maturity that is especially fragrant. The flesh is greenish-yellow, seedy, and highly acidic, with a fine texture.
– UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences | Citrus Variety Collection: Mexican lime https://citrusvariety.ucr.edu/citrus/mexican.html
The Key Lime (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle), also referred to as a Mexican Lime, bears a profuse amount of small, thin-skinned, greenish-yellow limes.
1 medium key lime = 2 to 3 teaspoons of juice
– Gourmet Sleuth: Key limes https://www.gourmetsleuth.com/ingredients/detail/key-limes

That’s it. I’m going down now to add 15 grams lemon juice and 45 grams water. What can go wrong? :lalala:

16:10 Well. That wasn’t the easiest thing to do. But the dough does feel a little better now. (Even though the dough was actually rising when I went to add the extra liquid.)

It’s such a relief that the dough is rising at all. But it is slow. It’s looking like I may not be baking until tomorrow….

Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 3 1/2 hours. […] Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight, 8 to 12 hours.
– Bryan Ford, Birote recipe in New World Sourdough

18:50 No. Not going to do that. The dough is ready to preshape now.

19:30 Shaping was pretty easy.

preshaping birotes
shaping birotes

Cover with plastic wrap or another towel for about 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy and airy, but not doubled.
– BBB July 2020 recipe

21:30 Good for me! I remembered the “60 to 90 minutes” part. But – oops! – I didn’t remember “not doubled”….

The oven is preheating now.

22:05 Scoring was so easy! What a difference stiff dough makes, even when it has fully risen. The blade went through like butter.

Scored Birotes

I sprayed them liberally with water (I really don’t like using the boiling water in a steam pan method! And there is no way I’m going to spray inside our brand new – to us – oven. Something would break for sure.)

Place the risen rolls onto parchment paper on top of a pizza peel, seam side down with space in between. Add 2 cups of boiling water to your steam pan and close the oven door to let it get steamy.
– BBB July 2020 recipe

They’re in the oven now. Fingers crossed that I didn’t let them overrise!

22:35 Not quite done yet. Thank goodness, at least there’s a little oven spring.

Place the loaves on the stone, along with the parchment, and close the oven door.
– BBB July 2020 recipe
Instead of the steam pan mentioned in the recipe, I baked mine on the baking stone with an inverted foil pan.
– Karen, message to BBBabes

Rats!!! Why did I not pay attention to that? I left the buns on the parchment covered trays. I should have just put them directly on our stone! Maybe they would have been done now. And. Why oh why oh why did I not remember about inverting our big roasting pan over top for steam? That would have worked perfectly.

Oh wait. Never mind…. :lalala: We gave the roasting pan away when it wouldn’t fit in the drawer under the oven. We were never using it because the big cast-iron frying pan works better for roasting.

22:45 Half of them are done. Ten minutes more for the others. (Interesting. I did not know that one part of the oven is colder than the other.)

22:59 Finally!! They look pretty good. I cannot wait for tomorrow to learn how they really turned out!

Wild Birotes Salados

We tasted the bread this morning. Crusty!! Soft on the inside! Maybe I didn’t go so far off after all. Although, they are a little more sour than I expected; I don’t think it was the lemon juice. I’m guessing it’s the heat. I’m reading Ed and Jean Wood’s book “Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker’s Handbook” right now and just got to the section on proofing.

If the loaf is proofed at room temperature, the flavor and leavening will be good but the sourness mild. Proofing at higher temperatures (85° to 90°/29° to 32°C) will produce a more sour loaf with good flavor but decreased leavening. If you proof the loaf at room tempaerature for the first hour and then raise the temperature to 90°F(32°C) for the second hour (and if the culture was proofed at 80° to 85°F/26° to 29°C during the last part of the culture proof), it will produce a much more sour loaf with only slightly decreased leavening.
– Ed and Jean Wood, Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker’s Handbook | Chapter 3: Putting it all together

The most thrilling thing was cutting into a bun and hearing the wonderful sound of really crispy crust against the knife.

Birote crumb
beautiful soft crumb!
birotes are very good with butter and aged goat Gouda
(Does anyone else think this looks like the Cookie Monster’s cousin?)

We’re VERY excited. The buns turned out so well that tonight, we are going to have a slightly divergent version of Tortas ahogadas tonight. (Remind me to give a full report about it.)

What a great choice for this month, Karen! Thank you!

Here is the July 2020 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Wild Birotes Salados
based on the recipes for ‘birotes salados’ in “Bread on the Table” by David Norman (adapted for the BBB by Karen K) and ‘birote’ in “New World Sourdough” by Bryan Ford

Birotes Salados are sourdough sandwich rolls unique to Guadalaja, Mexico. The rolls are crusty on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. They have a wonderful sourdough flavor. – Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories

makes six rolls

Wake Up Feed (As far as I can figure, the BBB recipe calls for the wake up feed to be 60% hydration)

  • dessert spoon Jane Mason whole wheat starter from fridge
  • 55g “no additives” 100% whole wheat flour
  • 55g water, at room temperature

Final Feed (Leavener) (If I’m calculating correctly, the BBB recipe calls for the final feed to be 65% hydration)

  • All of the “wake up feed”
  • 10g “no additives” 100% whole wheat flour
  • 10g water

Final Dough (It appears that the BBB recipe for the final dough ingredients is baker’s percent of 49% hydration and the complete recipe works out to about 55% hydration – ie: pretty stiff dough)

  • 500g unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
  • 10g wheat germ
  • 5g sugar (The BBB recipe calls “20 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar”.)
  • All of the “final feed”
  • 140g Mexican lager (I used Sol)
  • 110g water, divided In the end, the dough seemed way too stiff. So I added more liquid.) + 15g lemon juice and 45g water Next time, I would add just 8 grams lemon juice, but the same amount of total liquid.)
  • 10g salt
  1. Wake Up Feed: In the evening of the day before making the bread: Put the starter, flour and water into a smallish bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is stirred in well. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside overnight in the oven with only the light turned on (or everything off if it’s particularly warm in the kitchen).
  2. Final Feed: In the morning of the day you will be making the bread: If a small forkful of the leavener floats in a small bowl of cool room temperature water, you can go ahead and skip to the next step. If it’s particularly warm in the kitchen, and the leavener does not float (because it has used up all its food in the heat of the night), stir in 10 grams each of whole wheat flour and water (ie: even amounts by weight) and cover with a plate and leave for another hour or so. Check to see if it’s floating. If it is not, wait a little longer. If it does float, proceed to the next step.
  3. Mix the dough Sift the all-purpose flour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in wheat germ and sugar. Add all of the leavener (wakeup and final feeds) and pour lager and 110 grams water overtop. Use a dough whisk or wooden spoon to mix these ingredients to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 30 minutes. The dough will be quite stiff. You may have to get in there with your hands to knead all the dry ingredients in.
  4. Adding the salt, lemon juice and water: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into the final 45 grams water. Pour the salt mixture and lemon juice over the dough.
  5. Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt, water and lemon juice into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  6. Stretching and folding the dough: Turn the bowl as you fold and re-fold the dough into the center. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter (or if the kitchen is cool like ours in winter and spring, into the oven with only the light turned on). Repeat the folding step about 3 times in all at 30 minute intervals. You’ll notice that after each time, the dough will feel significantly smoother. After the final time of folding, the dough is ready to pre-shape.
  7. Pre-shaping: Scatter a dusting of all-purpose flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Fold the dough over in half, gently patting off any extra flour that might be there. Try to retain any bubbles that you see. Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Form each piece into a round, placing them on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  8. Shaping: Without breaking the skin, roll each ball out into a log shape. Set each one aside, then once all have been formed, go back to the first one to pull it gently to be longer and to point the ends. Place the shaped buns onto two parchment covered cookie sheets and cover with the tea towel again. Let sit for an hour or so to allow the buns to almost double.
  9. Baking: To know when it’s time to bake, run your index finger under water and gently but firmly press it on the side of the bread. If the dough springs back immediately, recover the buns with the tea towel and leave the trays in the oven with only the light turned on. If the dough gradually returns back after being pressed, leave the tray on the counter. Make sure the baking stone is on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 450F.
  10. Scoring: When the oven is preheated about fifteen minutes later, score each bun quickly and firmly down the center. Spray liberally with water. Place the trays on the hot stone in the oven and (do as I say, rather than as I did: put an overturned roasting pan as a hat over the buns, and) immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and close the oven door to continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is a lovely dark golden brown and the buns sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom.
  11. Cooling: When the buns have finished baking, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on a footed rack before serving; they are still cooking internally when first removed from the oven! If you wish to serve warm buns (of course you do), reheat them after they have cooled completely: To reheat any uncut bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread into the hot oven for about ten minutes. This will rejuvenate the crust and warm the crumb perfectly.

These buns are delicious with butter and thinly sliced cheese. Apparently, they are also excellent as the bread for Tortas Ahogadas (drowned sandwiches), made with carnitas, two kinds of salsa (one of them chili-hot), as well as optional shredded cabbage, pickled onions, avocado, and/or refried beans.


Leavener: The leavener is made with a 100% hydration starter. It takes about 5 days to create. (Please see our take on Jane Mason’s Natural Starter made with Wheat Flour.)

Sugar: The BBB recipe calls for “20 grams (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar”. Bryan Ford’s recipe calls for zero sugar. Considering that these buns were likely introduced into Mexico by the French, and the French are not prone to adding sugar to their plain bread, I’m thinking that next time, I will omit the sugar entirely.

Lemon Juice: Next time, I will make sure to have limes on hand, and use lime juice.


Wild Birotes Salados

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep BakingBirotes Salados (Mexican Sourdough Rolls

Karen K is the host of July 2020’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

July Bread – Birotes Salados – Mexican Sourdough Rolls […] are Guadalajaran, or Tapatío, which is what Guadalajarans call themselves. The bread is used for Tortas Ahogadas, which are sandwiches made with carnitas, pickled onions, refried beans, and two sauces, one for spicing things up, and one for drowning/dunking the entire sandwich.
[…] I have been to Guadalajara and it is one of my favorite cities.
– Karen, in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Birotes Salados too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the buns in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 July 2020. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ July 2020 Birotes Salados.

We’re having drowned sandwiches tonight – the smell of the braise wafting up from the kitchen is unbelievably wonderful. Why oh why is it not dinnertime yet?!



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9 responses to “A Wild Take on Birotes Salados (BBB July 2020)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Haha. can’t wait to hear about your “ahogados”!

    edit 17 July 2020, 16:43: I was going to post about them today, Kelly. Not quite drowned entirely, they were quite delicious last night. But we are having them again really drowned tonight. It’s probably entirely necessary, considering that the rolls are now 2 days old and quite tough. (T had a lot of difficulty sawing them in half last night, even though we have very very very sharp knives.) – Elizabeth

  2. Karen (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    Very nice! They look amazing! And I didn’t miss your mention of “so.”

    edit 17 July 2020, 16:47: I’m so glad, Karen! Next time, I’ll be sure to start at least one sentence with “So, yeah, …”. I’ll try to insert a few “and then he went, ‘No way!'” and “I was like, “Ri-i-ight?” too. :whee: (Thank you again for a terrific recipe choice this month.) – Elizabeth

  3. Aparna Balasubramanian (My Diverse Kitchen)

    That was quite an adventure for a batch of bread rolls! :D You did get lucky with the David Norman book and the beer though. All’s well that ends well, I say.

    So during my research on the net I found there are a couple more differences between Birotes and Bolillos. Birotes are saltier. Also Bolillos, apparently, are not as “sturdy” or hearty as Birotes. This is especially important for making Tortas Ahogados as Birotes can stand up to getting “drunken” on the sauce than Bolillos.

    edit 17 July 2020, 16:50: After all the reading, I knew that Bolillos were sweeter and softer than Birotes, but I didn’t know that Birotes were saltier, Aparna. Apparently, in some parts of Mexico, they use Bolillos to make “drowned sandwiches”. I can’t imagine that Bolillos, with such soft crusts, the final dish wouldn’t just turn into mush! – Elizabeth

  4. Tanna (MyKitchenInHalfCups)

    Note to self: try some Sol beer. Modelo has been a fav for us.

    Your rolls look terrific. And my yes they are good enough to do again…I have to do the goat cheese with them and carnitas.

    edit 17 July 2020, 16:55: Goat gouda and butter were really delicious with the rolls, Tanna. As for the beer, we would have tried Modelo if we could have gotten it. Neither of us are that wild about lagers, so we got a couple of other non-Mexican lagers. For us, the Sol was the most pleasing of all of them. Not skunky at all but it still had a little bitterness to balance the sweetness. – Elizabeth

    1. Tanna (MyKitchenInHalfCups)

      AND: about those washer hoses, there are ones made with stainless steel weaving that actually are made to really last…we learned that the hard way with a 2nd floor washer. They’’re about twice as expensive but a lot cheaper than replacing downstairs hardwood floors.

      edit 17 July 2020, 16:58: I’m so relieved! The repair guy did replace the old rubber hoses with the stainless steel weaving. I was a little taken aback at how expensive they were but they do seem WAY better than the old ones. Way better…. (Yikes, how horrible for you to have had to replace flooring because of inferior washer hoses!) – Elizabeth

  5. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    Always a joy to read your play by play. Thanks for explaining about how you research…very competent and interesting way to go. Your rolls are gorgeous…they have those little dots in the crust that I think of the best sourdough as having.

    edit 23 July 2020, 10:27: Thank you, Elle. I love those little dots too! -Elizabeth

  6. barbara

    The longer and whinier, the better! An excellent saga.

    Reminder: Write about the tortas ahogadas!

    edit 23 July 2020, 10:22: Thank you, Barbara. I know that the whiny part is never unwelcome (or, at least I like reading about other people’s failures and what they’ve learned from them) but the insane verbosity must be trying for some….
    (Thanks for the reminder!! Here is the report about the sandwiches: Lost in Translation: Not-Quite Tortas Ahogadas https://etherwork.net/blog/not-quite-tortas-ahogadas/)

  7. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Beautiful rolls! Even the Cookie Monster’s cousin. Love that! Another fun adventure in baking this month.

    edit 23 July 2020, 10:29: It was, wasn’t it? Who knew how thrilling adding lager would be? :whee: – Elizabeth


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