Have you voted today for my Wonderful POMcakes?
Before I moved in with Adam, I lived in this wonderful neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago. It was notoriously a Polish neighborhood, but its true appeal lay in who lived a mere few blocks away. Lizz (and infant Skylar) and our good friend Greg lived within walking distance of my apartment. In fact, if I was out on my back porch, I could see the roof of their house.
The best part about having good friends living so close was that boredom was never an option. In fact, Greg and I got to the point where we’d call each other and not even have to pick up. We’d just go downstairs and figure out somewhere to hang out. Many bad movies were watched, many diapers changed, and many MANY meals eaten out.
I owe Greg a thank you for introducing me to the wondrous meal that is truly the best of two very separate worlds. He and I used to go to Taco Burrito King and enjoy cold horchata with head-sized burritos and amazing tortas.
What’s a torta?
Imagine if a burrito with all your favorite toppings had a baby with a crispy panini sandwich:
+ = ?
Yes. A dish like this exists. Before the fall of 2004, I did not know the wonder that was the Mexican torta.
You’re all thinking “But you’re a Spanish teacher! How do you not know a Mexican dish?”
The answer is simple: Mexican restaurants that I’d visited didn’t have them. Then, I learned in Spanish class that “torta” meant cake, and I assumed that’s what it meant everywhere. Apparently, I was wrong. A torta in Mexico is an amazing concoction that combines a fluffy and crispy roll filled with all the deliciousness of a perfect burrito.
I got ambitious and decided to make them for Adam and I tonight, complete with homemade bolillos (rolls), marinated steak, smashed avocado, fresh salsa, sour cream, cheese, refried beans, and a lot of love.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 1/3 cups warm water
- 1 Tb. sugar
- 1 Tb. butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour
- 1/4 c. milk
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to sit 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, cooled melted butter and mix well. Add 2 1/2 c. of the flour and salt, and knead until well-combined and elastic, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining flour (I used another cup for a total of 3 1/2 cups), knead in the mixer about 10 minutes. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled, about one hour. After the dough doubles in size, punch down and cut into 8 equal pieces, and roll into ovals. Pre-heat oven to 375*F. Allow dough to rise another half hour. Brush rolls with milk and bake the rolls until crusty and browned, about 30 minutes. Slice and serve with desired toppings.
Bolillos are available to buy at most grocery stores under the guise of “Italian Rolls”, so you can pick a few of those up with your favorite burrito fillings the next time you’re at the grocery store and throw together a few tortas.
You’ll thank me later.