Cemitas (Mexican Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns)

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Cemitas (Mexican Sesame Seed Sandwich Buns)

These cemitas are buttery and sweet with a tender but supportive structure. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The cemita, a brioche-like bun from Puebla, may well be the ultimate sandwich of hamburger bun. It has a sweet and savory flavor with a dense-yet-light crumb that can stand up to stacks and stacks of toppings without disintegrating or losing its tenderness.

Why It Works

  • Using heavy cream in place of traditional milk and lard, oil, or butter means one fewer ingredient and a richer, more tender texture.
  • A good amount of sugar makes for a lightly sweet bun that still works perfectly in savory sandwich applications.
  • An egg wash followed by a sprinkle of sesame seeds and coarse sea salt gives these buns a glossy crust with a big burst of flavor.
  • Yield:Makes 6 single-serving buns
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:5 1/2 hours
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 12.5 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. 1.

    Combine flour, cream, 2 eggs, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a ball of dough that rides around the blade is formed, about 45 seconds. Dough will be very sticky. Alternatively, form dough in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment by adding ingredients and mixing on medium speed until a homogenous dough comes together.

  2. 2.

    Transfer dough to a large mixing bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until about 1 1/2 times its original size, about 4 hours.

  3. 3.

    Lightly flour dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Form into a large ball then, using a bench scraper or sharp knife, divide the ball into 6 even pieces. Using lightly floured hands, form each piece into a ball. Transfer dough balls to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, tucking the seam underneath. Cover with plastic wrap weighted down with a kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

  4. 4.

    Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°F. When ready to bake, beat remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush egg mixture on top of each bun until evenly coated. Sprinkle with generously with sesame seeds and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer buns to a wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before using. Buns can be stored in a plastic of paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Refresh in a warm oven or toaster before using.