A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 27, 2008
Bolillo (Mexican bread)

"Bolillo” is a Mexican bread that’s similar to French bread. The name “bolillo” means bobbin or spindle, and a short rolling pin used to make the bread also is called a “bolillo.” Some believe that the bolillo was introduced to Mexico during the brief period of French intervention (1861-1867), and that the bolillo was directly modeled after French bread.

“Bolillo” was being used as a nickname for Americans (like the bolillo’s inside of “white bread") by at least 1924. San Antonio bakeries began specializing in the bolillo by the 1960s, and today the bread is also available in many Texas supermarkets.

Telera bread is similar to the bolillo, but is flatter. Both are used as sandwich breads.


The Cook’s Thesaurus: Breads
bolillo = pan blanco
Pronunciation: bow-LEE-yoh
Notes: These are crusty Mexican sandwich rolls. 
Substitutes: French bread OR tortilla

MexGrocer: Mexican Food Glossary
Bolillo: Coarse, crispy white roll of bread in the shape of a bobbin.

GourmetSleuth - Dictionary of Mexican Cooking Terms
bolillo boh-LEE-yoh small elongated roll of bread

Recipe Tips
Bolillo Bread
A Mexican bread, made with a basic dough that is very similar to a French baguette dough. The bread has a crispy, flavorful crust and a soft, chewy crumb. The dough is usually formed into a football shaped roll. Occasionally, the dough is scored to create three sections along the length of the football shape, in which case the bolillo is known as a telera.

Bolillos are most often used for the Mexican sandwich known as a torta, which became popular after WWII. The torta sandwich usually contains mashed avocado, a spread made of black beans or refried beans, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, and onion. There are many versions of the sandwich including many Americanized varieties that have strayed from the original selection of ingredients.

Wise Geek
What is a Bolillo?
Very similar in taste and appearance to the baguette, the bolillo is a simple white bread that is popular in Mexico and several countries in South America. Distinguished by an oval shape that is usually around six inches in length, the bolillo is often used for popular ethnic sandwiches such as the torta and the mollete.

In Mexico, the bolillo is often referred to as a Pan de Agua. Brazil is one of the nations where the bolillo is widely enjoyed, and is often identified as pao frances or pao de sal. This designation is loosely based on the resemblance in taste and texture to french bread, particularly baguettes. In other places, the bolillo may be known as a barra or pan blanco.

Traditionally, the Mexican variety of the bolillo is prepared in large rock ovens. It is understood that this method of baking provides a crunchier crust for the bread, which is one of the most appealing features of the bolillo. Often, the bread is prepared fresh daily, and may be consumed at any meal. In some cases, the bolillo will be served with simple accompaniments, such as eggs and some sort of pan friend meat. However, a bolillo can also serve as a simple snack or dessert by splitting the bread and pouring milk or chocolate milk over the two pieces. 

Wikipedia: Bolillo
A bolillo is a type of salty bread traditionally made in Mexico, El Salvador, Portugal, and Brazil. In Brazil it is known as pão francês or pão de sal. It is considered a variation of the baguette. In some places of Mexico it is also known as “Pan de Agua” (water bread)

It is about 6 inches long, in the shape of an oval, with a crunchy crust and a soft inside, known as migajón. It is the main ingredient for the tortas and the molletes. A variation of the bolillo is the telera, which is very similar, though it has a rounder shape, it is divided in three sections, and it is often a bit softer. 

The Recipe Link
BOLILLO:
French style, crusty bread rolls made in the shape of a bobbin that is served with entrees and used for sandwiches. Source: Glossary of Spanish and Mexican Cooking Terms By James W. Peyton

BOLILLO (MEXICAN STYLE ROLLS)
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour (high gluten flour)
3 cups wheat flour
1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
FOR THE GLAZE:
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Heat water, honey, butter, and salt together in a saucepan. Let cool to lukewarm.
Add yeast to the lukewarm mixture and let stand for 10 minutes.
In separate bowl combine flours with the yeast mixture; mix well. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. Place in bowl, cover and let rise until doubled.
Punch down, divide into sixteen pieces and form into logs. Place rolls on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE THE GLAZE:
While the dough is rising for the second time, mix water and cornstarch together until smooth in a saucepan; bring to boil until thick, let cool. Brush rolls with the glaze and lightly score top of rolls with sharp knife.

TO BAKE:
Bake rolls in preheated 375 degree F oven 35 minutes or until golden.
Makes 16

Google Books
A Dictionary, Spanish and English and English and Spanish
by Joseph Baretti
London: F. Wingrave
1794
BOLILLO, f.m. a little nine-pin, or a bobbin to make lace.

17 August 1924, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Mexican Slang Much Like That Used in U.S.,” part 2, pg. 4, col. 2:
An American is not a Yankee, but a “gringo,” or “bolillo.” (...) Bolillo may mean anything from a bread roll to a wooden drumstick.

Google Books
Prologue to Mexico: The Story of a Search for a Place
by Marian Storm
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
1931
Pg. 241:
They pile good, crusty rolls of pan bolillo upon fresh banana leaves in their flat baskets and, balancing them easily, trot from window to window to sell us wholesome..

A Preliminary Glossary of New Mexican Spanish
Compiled by F. M. Kercheville
The University of New Mexico Bulletin
Language Series
Volume 5, Number 3, Whole Number 247
University of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, New Mexico
July 15, 1934
Pg. 15:
SPANISH...ENGLISH
bolillo (slang)...an American; rolling pin

Google Books
Spoken Spanish for Travelers and Tourists
by Charles Emil Kany
New York, NY: Little, Brown and Co.
1943
Pg. 82:
A Spanish breakfast generally consists of coffee (a mixture of milk and coffee extract) or chocolate, and rolls (panecillos, bollos; bolillos, Mex.) or sweet rolls (pan dulce, Mex.).

Google Books
Made in Mexico:
The Story of a Country’s Arts and Crafts
by Patricia Fent Ross
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
1952
Pg. 173:
Most villages also have big clay and cement ovens where pan dulces (sweetened bread) and bolillos, the hard-crusted, European style, wheat-flour rolls, ...

Google Books
Even as You Love
by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño
New York, NY; Thomas Y. Crowell Company
1957
Pg. 31:
Into the oven of Snow’s magical stove she set a pan of bolillos, those crunchy salt rolls, and of buttery cuernos or croissants.

Google Books
Santa María Ixcatlán: Habitat, Population, Subsistence
By Sherburne Friend Cook
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
1958
Pg. 43:
A bolillo is split lengthwise and a green chile is inserted.

Google Books
Singers and Storytellers
by Mody Coggin Boatright
Dallas, TX: Southern Methodist University Press
1961
Pg. 289:
Bolillo is a small knob, also a small loaf of French bread. Current newspaper etymology is that bolillo was applied to Americans because they are as white ...

Google Books
Eating in Mexico
by Amando Farga
Mexican Restaurant Association
1963
Pg. 132:
ORDINARY BREAD
The principal kinds of bread which are served usually with the mid-day meal are: bolillo, telera, flauta, Viennese, chalupas, bola, French, ...

Google Books
New Voices in American Studies
West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press
1966
Pg. 114:
Names like “guero” (fairhaired) and “bolillo” (French bread), now used by Mexican-Americans and northern Mexicans for the Anglo-American, originally were used in Mexico for the French.

23 February 1966, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Tolbert’s Texas” by Frank X. Tolbert, section A, pg. 10:
I stayed recently in a boarding house in Muzquiz, Mexico, where, for all meals, there was served small loaves or large rolls called “bolillo.” These hand-made small loaves were as good as any bread I’ve ever sampled in France, or any place where I’ve wandered.

Now A San Antonio company, called “Bolillo Inc.” has started baking what the proprietors, including two bakers from Mexico City and Acapulco, call the “only authetnic bolillo in the U.S.” They have special machinery and a hearth oven, and this does combine to give the bread the same, deep-crusted taste as that I had the other day in the Mexican boarding house.

As I understand it, “bolillo” is a Mexican term for a citizen of the U.S., hence “U.S. bread,” although it’s hard to find it that good in this country.

6 September 1967, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Simon Bakery Makes Bolillos,” pg. 33, cols. 4-5:
More and more restaurants across the city are switching to the Bolillo, the delicious Mexican roll that is so popular on the West Coast. Surprisingly, Bolillos are not only a hit in Mexican food restaurants but in “American” food restaurants as well.

Simon Bakery, the foremost producer of Bolillos in the San Antonio area, makes the roll, utilizing the identical recipe and ingredients used in Mexico. a year of experimenting was required in perfecting the Bolillo and adapting it to the needs of San Antonio. That is one of the “little things” that sets Simon Bakery Bolillos apart from mere copies.

Bolillos can be heated for five or six minutes before being served or can be served fresh from Simon Bakery. Any way it is served Bolillos are the perfect complement to any dinner.

21 October 1967, San Antonio (TX) Light, pg. 21, col. 4 ad:
F. L. SIMON BAKERY
Home of “Mexico City Style Bolillos”

8 October 1968, New York (NY) Times, “In Mexico City, Some Restaurants Deserve Gold Medals, Too” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 52:
The principal Mexican bread is a celestial creation, a hard roll, called bolillos. It resembles a French roll, is slightly sweet and has a fantastic texture.

Google Books
Spanish-Speaking People in the United States
by American Ethnological Society
Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press
1969
Pg. 119:
bolillo. One of the many derogatory names for the Anglo… It seems to have been used originally for the French (bolillo is a small loaf of French bread), but later it was transferred to the North American.

Google Books
Mexico: Her Daily & Festive Breads
by Barbara Howland Taylor
Claremont, CA: Creative Press
1969
Pg. 55:
Often selected are crisp salted Spanish rolls—the pointed bolillos and the flat teleras. Bolillos, spindles, according to one story, was the nickname of the long-legged americanos or gringos who came into Mexico during the North American Invasion of 1848, as the Mexicans called it.
(...)
In Veracruz, the bolillo is now called a cojinillo, little cushion. In Guadalajara and Sonora it is called a birote, a name derived from virote, a slender man. There are small birotes of standard size and there are large pieces like the long Spanish or French rolls that are sold in the United States.

Google Books
The Peoples Guide to Mexico
by Carl Franz
Santa Fe, NM: John Muir Publications
1974
Pg. 147:
Pan, the Spanish word for bread, usually refers to the bolillo, a french style roll (called pan frances in Yucatan).

7 July 1977, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Pan Dulce At Its Best in S.A.,” pg. 3B, col. 3:
In Mexico they call bakeries that produce pan dulce and other types of breads, including the popular “bolillo” or french roll, “panificadoras.”

Google Books
Mexican Americans in a Dallas Barrio
by Shirley Achor
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press
1978
Pg. 39:
In place of “Anglo,” most barrio residents use the term bolillo (literally, a small piece of crusty white bread). 

Google Books
Jane Butel’s Southwestern Kitchen
by Jane Butel
New York, NY: HPBooks
1994
Pg. 144:
BOLILLO
A short rolling pin that is a uniform two inches in diameter and eight or more inches long. (Coincidentally the bread rolls in Mexico bear the same name.) It fits ideally in the palm and rolls flour tortillas to a uniform thinness. I find the rustic type with no handles the easiest to work with. The bolillo is also perfect for rolling empanada and bizcochito dough.

Google Books
Folklore and Culture on the Texas-Mexican Border
by Americo Paredes
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press (Center for Mexican American Studies - CMAS Books)
1995
Pg. 70:
Bolillo. One of the many derogatory names for the Anglo American. It seems to have been used originally for the French (bolillo is a small loaf of French bread), but later it was transferred to the North American.

Google Books
Batos, Bolillos, Pochos, and Pelados:
Class and Culture on the South Texas Border
by Chad Richardson
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
1999
Pg. 183:
Actually, a bolillo is a white bread roll produced by mexican bakeries. Its use as a synonym for Anglos is a gentle form of humor along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Google Books
The Making of a Chicano Militant:
Lessons from Cristal
by Jose Angel Gutierrez
Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press
1999
Pg. 22:
For the Anglos we also had various names, such as gringo, gavacho, bolillo, blanco, pan blanco, hureo, americano, and norte americano. (...) The French-style bread, which is white on the inside, is called a bolillo. Napoleon III’s invasion of Mexico and subsequent occupation for a limited time had introduced French bread into the Mexican cuisine. These names refer not only to the whiteness of the Anglos’ skin but also to what was (Pg. 23—ed.) perceived as their sour body smell’ white bread has that color, and a sour smell from the yeast and preservatives.

Google Books
Cooking with Texas Highways
by Nola McKey
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
2005
Pg. 36 (Name That Pan Dulce!)
bolillo (bo-LEE-yo): A small, white, oval French bread.

el crispito
June 19, 2006
When is a bolillo not a bolillo?
Not all bolillos are created equally, I recently leared from neighbor Alberto. There is a special type of bolillo made here in Guadalajara…

Wait, wait, wait. You don’t know what a bolillo is?!

Okay, a bolillo is similar to french bread, and is made with wheat flour. Usually, it’s bleached flour, but you can get delicious bolios at the pan integral (whole wheat) bakeries also.

Oh yeah, in Mexico, you often have bakeries that make just whole wheat things, including whole wheat raised, frosted donuts.

The bolillo is usually about five to seven inches long, has tapered ends making it oval in shape, and is cut across the top before baking to give it a slightly irregular surface and a little more crust.

Oh, that’s right. I should have mentioned before that the bolillo is crusty on the outside and very soft on the inside. That’s what makes it like french bread.
(...)
The point is, I learned recently from Alberto that the type of bolillo used in Guadalajara and surrounding environs is a special type of bolillo called a birote. Birotes are particular to Guadalajara, and are perhaps best described as sort of a sourdough bolillo. I don’t know the exact difference between the two, but the birote tastes slightly sour, like a light sourdough. People here describe them as salados when you go to buy them and they think that as a non-native tapatio you don’t realize the difference. However, they’re not called bolillos salados, they’re called birotes. Well, except on the little labels that the bakery at the supermarket sticks on the bags, in which case, then they’re just called bolillos.

Austin (TX) Chronicle (November 23, 2007)
The Staff of Life
BY CLAUDIA ALARCÓN
Bolillos, El Fénix
Honestly, I am not much of a bread person. In fact, I rarely serve bread with meals, and I hardly ever eat it, unless it’s in sandwich form or as the vehicle for something tasty like pâté or homemade marmalade. But I am, after all, a Mexican, and we Mexicans love our bolillos. A basketful is always present at the Mexican table and usually greets diners upon arrival at restaurants throughout the country, much like Texas’ ubiquitous chips and salsa. These days, a number of bakeries in Austin make them, but I found that none is able to reproduce the exact consistency, crust, and texture of a real Mexican bolillo. That is, until I discovered El Fénix Bakery at 6616 S. Congress.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 27, 2008 • Permalink