The bread tradition in Chile
Chile is the second largest consumer of bread in the world after Germany. Chileans consume 86 to 92 kg per person per year, making Chile one of the world’s most sandwich-eating countries.
In Chile, this staple food is particularly revered, which is why it has been called cara de Dios or the “face of God”.
What is the origin of hallulla?
The word hallulla comes from Hispanic Arabic ḥallún, also called bollo de fiesta, which itself comes from the Hebrew hallāh (חלה), without any association with Judaism. Ḥallún is an unleavened bread eaten at Easter.
The shape of the hallulla is round and flat, however less flat than pita bread. Its consistency is semi-spongy. It is used for several traditional Chilean sandwiches, including the famous Chilean ham and/or cheese sandwiches called aliados. Hallulla has a similar taste and texture to that of the famous British scone, but it is wider and flatter, and is more often used with savory rather than sweet fillings.
In Chile, there is a custom and institution called once and an once never takes place without hallulla! Once chileno means “Chilean eleven” and people say tomar once! (“Take the eleven!”)
What is Chilean once?
Once is a traditional Chilean custom consisting of gathering around a table around 4 pm to chat and share, while sipping tea, coffee, or milk with hallullas and their traditional accompaniments, cakes, various desserts and other varieties of bread. The origin of the once is related to English teatime, and the merienda española, the Spanish snack. In Chile, the once also serves as an evening meal for some families.
The once refers to this time of day in Chile where many families meet to enjoy the delights of Chilean cuisine, as well as a snack, or any other option to share a delightfully enjoyable moment.
The once is not a dinner, lunch or snack, as it is between afternoon tea and dinner, which can vary from 5 pm to 9 pm, usually when people arrive home after a day’s work.
Surprisingly, its characteristic name, once, has absolutely nothing to do with the time of the event itself, since it does not take place at 11 am or even precisely with eleven people or for eleven minutes. None of the factors that really connect its name to his origin will naturally come to mind.
Its origin goes far beyond a simple meeting with friends or family, around a table.
What is the origin of Chilean once?
Its origin dates back to the late nineteenth century, when nitrate workers accompanied their snack or taste of a drink called aguardiente (wine brandy) which, at the time, was prohibited because of the restriction of alcohol. To cover themselves, they nicknamed their snack “once” since the word aguardiente has 11 letters.
This story is the most believable, but other theories suggest a meeting of eleven ladies who met in the middle of an afternoon to share tea and biscuits.
What is the origin of hallulla?
Let’s go back to the origins of our hallulla, which itself draws its origins from the Arab-Hispanic bread ḥallún which is none other than the bollo de fiesta.
What is bollo de fiesta?
Literally, it means “party roll.” when talking about the bollo de fiesta, we should really say fiesta del bollo. Everything happens at the end of the Holy Week in Avilés, Spain.
In this Asturian city, people say goodbye to the rigors of Lenten with a typical bread and tens of thousands of people eat it in the streets in joy and good humor. This typical brioche roll, the bollo, which gives its name to this festival is a multi-tier brioche, in the shape of a cross or a four-leaf clover, that godparents give on Easter Sunday and Monday to their godchildren. However, most people probably ignore the origin of this bun and the sacrifices that accompanied its consumption.
This little bun comes from a time when boat expeditions were real odysseys. At the end of the 17th century, fragile boats driven by the whim of the winds made their way to the Americas from the ports of Asturias. Their humble passengers, looking for a better future in the New World, at a time when the freshness of food was very limited, took with them a sweet bun that eventually hardened but never spoiled. The original ingredients were wheat flour, cow butter, sugar, egg yolks and lemon juice.
The cow butter of that time gave the butter and this bun was the star of fiesta del bollo, which started in 1893, and has since always been a beautiful outdoor party and a festival welcoming the spring season. The Fiesta del Bollo de Avilés was since declared a National Touristic Interest. It was the Spaniards who exported the hallulla to Chile.
How to make hallulla
One of the most important ingredients of this small hallulla is, of course, flour. But be careful, not any flour. It must be refined. It is called “fleur de farine”. It is a very fine and very white flour, the finest and most beautiful part of the flour.
This hallulla bun is absolutely delicious!
I am amazed at how basic ingredients like flour, yeast, milk, sugar, salt, water and a good dose of fat, with a touch of alchemy and lots of love can turn into hot rolls that are so delicious!
- 8 cups flour (fleur de farine), sifted
- 2½ tablespoons caster sugar
- 9 tablespoons butter (vegetable margarine or lard)
- 2½ cups milk
- ½ cup warm water (at 88 F / 36 C), or more water
- 2½ tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
In a bowl, pour the yeast, warm water (only ½ cup/100 ml to start), sugar and 1 tablespoon flour. Mix well and let stand for 20 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts and let it cool to 88 F / 36 C.
- Pour the rest of the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Dig a well and add the yeast.
- Start kneading by slowly adding the milk and butter mixture.
- Knead for 10 minutes at medium speed or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add a little more water if necessary.
- Cover the bowl with a thick cloth and let stand in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes or until the dough doubles in volume.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of ½ inch (1 cm). Prick it with a fork (or not, both versions are possible).
Cut round buns using a cookie cutter of about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
- Roll the rest of the dough lightly. Cut and shape buns until all the dough is used.
- Place the hallullas as you go on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Let stand for 45 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.
Fifteen minutes before the end of the rest period, preheat the oven to 390 F / 200 C.
- Bake the hallullas for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.