English, Recipes

Conchas (Traditional Mexican Sweet Bread)

200 Years Old, and We Still Love ’em.

Some call them conchas, others call them pan de dulce or simply pan dulce,  but anyone that grew up near a traditional panaderia cherishes the memories of the happiness a warm concha.

These lightly sweet rolls are popular throughout Mexico, usually purchased in the morning for breakfast, or reserved for a light evening snack with a cup of frothy hot chocolate. Dunking is a must.

The bread base of a concha is the same dough used for Pan de Muertos, Rosca de Reyes, and Pan de Huevo. In fact, all of these breads mentioned are variations of Pan de Huevo. The toppings are simply changed for variety.

They Go Where Cupcakes Fear To Tread

What’s impressive about conchas is that the original baker that developed these classic treats  figured out how to make a sweet frosting-like topping that does not melt. The average temperature of my South Texas home on the Mexican border is 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Every. Day.

That’s no place for a cupcake. The fact that they don’t melt in the car is probably why we like them so much.

Concha Memories

In his older years, my grandfather would send me to pick up his groceries in town, and he always requested conchas, and his favorites were the white ones. “Hey grandad,” I finally told him, “the topping is just colored, and it doesn’t have any flavoring. So why does it matter which ones I bring home?”

“I just like the white ones.” he would reply.

So that’s what I would bring him. Two white conchas in a paper bag, which would have obvious grease spots by the time I got back to the ranch. But their sweet frosting never melted.

Even Stale Conchas Are Delicious

Homemade conchas are extra amazing, but they do go stale pretty quickly, within 12 hours of making them. The remedy is to simply slice the concha and toast it under the broiler (not the toaster, which I learned when hubby tried. The topping caught fire and I lost my trusty appliance.)

And of course, dunking them in your coffee or hot chocolate is always a good call.

Conchas

Bread:

6 – 7 cups all purpose flour (750-875 gr)
3/4 cup sugar (150gr)
2 pkg yeast (16gr)
1 tsp. salt (6gr)
1/2 cup milk (120ml)
1/2 cup water (120ml)
1/2 cup butter (114gr)
3 eggs
3 egg yolks

Topping:

6 tbsp. vegetable shortening, softened (77gr)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (60gr)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup flour (94gr)

coloring options:
2-3 drops yellow food coloring
2-3 drops red food coloring
1 tablespoon powdered cocoa (4gr)

Place 5 cups of the flour (625gr) in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt, and set aside.

Heat the milk, water, and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, until the liquid reaches 100°-110°F (38°-43°C) on a thermometer. Add the yeast and stir until completely dissolved. Pour the milk mixture over the flour and stir until well combined. Add the whole eggs and the yolks, and mix well. The dough will be sticky at first. Add more flour, 1 large spoonful at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead with your hands for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, flouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. Continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands or to the counter surface. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise in a warm (about 85°F), draft free environment for 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces and form each into a round, domed patty (like a hamburger bun). Place the dough patties on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for 1 hour.

While the bread is rising, prepare the topping. In a small mixing bowl, combine the vegetable shortening, powdered sugar, egg yolks and flour. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to knead the ingredients together. When the dough is well combined, divide the dough into 3 portions, coloring one portion with the yellow food coloring, another portion with the red food coloring (pink is the desired color) and the remaining portion with the cocoa powder.

Heat the oven to 350°F (177°C).

Form each colored dough into 3 balls, for a total of 9 balls. Using a rolling pin or a tortilla press, flatten each of the balls into a thin circle that is just smaller in diameter than the risen bread. Place a flattened circle of topping on each of the completely risen breads. Mark each topping using a concha stamp.

Bake the conchas for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges.

Makes 9 Conchas

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