Molletes de Antequera – Soft Bread Rolls from Antequera

It’s funny that when you are away from home, apart from missing loved ones, food seems to feature highly on the list of things people miss. Or is that just us? We love good bread and are lucky to have relative success making our own as we don’t have any spectacular bakers close to our home in England and Bread Man from Spain just won’t deliver to us this far away!

Finished Molletes (1)

About 30km from our home in Spain is a town called Antequera. One of its main claims to fame is the delicious soft white bread rolls it produces and which are typically served for breakfast or “merienda” (afternoon tea). Usually they are just split, drizzled with olive oil and perhaps a sprinkle of salt. You could be more adventurous and spread them with fresh crushed tomatoes (my favourite Spanish breakfast), or go the whole hog (excuse the pun) and add some delicious slices of Jamon Serrano.

In England you can buy soft white breakfast rolls which are very good, but not quite the same. Time to see if we could recreate a favourite breakfast bread. It’s rather an unusual method, at least I thought it was, as it involved dropping a piece of dough into a bowl of warm water and waiting for it to bob to the surface like a supersized gnocchi. Stay with me, all will be revealed…

Ingredients to make 6-8 large rolls (these rolls are typically about 30cm in diameter and quite flat, they are also lightly baked so that they don’t take on any colour)

For the “Masa Madre” – the starter, or “mother dough”

100g strong bread flour

1x 7g sachet of easy blend yeast (or you can use 15g of fresh yeast)

50ml warm water

For the second dough

500g strong bread flour

320ml warm water

1x 7g sachet of easy blend yeast (or you can use 15g of fresh yeast)

50ml olive oil

Up to 20g salt (I used less, about 12g)

To make the Masa Madre – mix the easy blend yeast into the flour then add the water and mix to a dough. If using fresh yeast, add the yeast to the water, allow it to ferment then add to the flour. Form the dough into a ball, cut a cross into the top of it and put it into a bowl of hand warm water.

Molletes 001

The dough will start to release small bubbles into the water (it’s all quite entertaining to watch!) and will rise to the surface within about 10 minutes (or less). Pour away the water and use the dough immediately.

Molletes 003

To make the second dough. Mix the easy blend yeast into the flour then add the salt. In a separate bowl add the oil to the water then add half the flour, yeast and salt. If using fresh yeast, add the yeast to the water, allow it to ferment and add the oil. Then add half the flour with the salt.

Add the masa madre to the dough (which will be very wet at this stage, I used a mixer with a dough hook) and knead for a few minutes then add the rest of the flour. Continue to knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is silky, smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a bowl which has been floured or rubbed lightly with olive oil, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rise until doubled in size. Mine took about an hour and a half.

Molletes 004

Knock back the dough and divide into 6 or 8 equal portions. Roll into balls which should be placed onto a flat baking sheet lined with baking paper. Flatten them with the plan of your hand, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise again. You don’t want a massive rise on the rolls, they should still retain a fairly flat surface.

Dust with flour before baking for an authentic finish. Preheat the oven to 250 C/475 F/Gas 9 and place a bowl of hot water at the bottom of the oven. Place the tray (or trays) into the oven and reduce the temperature to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6. Bake for around 20 minutes. I left mine in for a few minutes too long and they started to take on some colour which didn’t affect the flavour but is not typical for Molletes.

Molletes 009

Eat within 24 hours as they tend to dry out a little after this (but are delicious toasted or griddled). They freeze and defrost really well and are great used as picnic rolls. Now, to work out how to incorporate Hercules, Son of Priscilla, my sourdough starter into the next batch….



52 thoughts on “Molletes de Antequera – Soft Bread Rolls from Antequera

    1. It’s odd isn’t it?! Yes, very much like baps but somehow they taste different – not quite as soft, there’s a definite texture to the crumb. I’m making another batch today in anticipation of the arrival of Big Man’s daughter, son-in-law and grand daughter from Spain for the weekend…it’s all getting very exciting here J

  1. Wow they look delicious. The poaching in warm water made me think of bagels and the flatness made me think of unleven bread, so I looked them up, thinking they might be a very old style of bread making. There’s a suggestion here that they could be a form of bread used in Mass and of Hebrew origin 😉

    1. Ooh that was an interesting article – I guess the origins make sense when you think of the history of Spain! Just making some more today…we’ve become a bit hooked. I’ll be the size of a giant Mollete if I don’t slow down L

  2. What an interesting share Ms Chica. Tossing dough into water goes against the grain but obviously it works. I am always willing to give something new the old college try. Cheers for sharing this with us 🙂

      1. I can get decent grocery tomatoes (and the ones from the farmer’s market are really really good) here, but it still doesn’t taste quite the same. Guess you gotta eat it with flamenco music in the background? Mmmm…

  3. OOOH I am so happy – I have been to Antequera about 3 times and had these molletes for breakfast with olive oil and tomatoes at the Cerveceria next to the hotel Plaza San Esteban where I was staying – and I loved them – the softness really absorbs the olive oil, it is one of my favourite breakfasts, I didn’t realise you need to boil the dough, I will be trying this really soon – thanks for posting this intriguing recipe – Poli

      1. ooh yes the home of the bread 🙂 – I have been dreaming about them on and off ever since – there is something similar (in that it is eaten with olive oil and tomatoes) in southern italy – it is called a frise – I have made them myself – as it involves baking the rolls and then baking them again and then soaking in water before eating (sounds odd but is delicious) it doesnt sound similar to the molletes but because it’s a peasant recipe it kind of is similar! Happy Monday Poli

  4. I love molletes, I never knew us ordinary mortals could make them though. Thought only bakers knew how to make them haha. I can just go out and buy them. But it sounds a lot of fun to make.

  5. wow very interisting articles, can be set as a reference for us at the time of breakfast,definitely tasty bagel in especially if eaten when still warm for sure good well.

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