Introduction: Conchas- Mexican Sweet Bread
Mexican sweets and pastries never fail to cheer me up. They are delicious and visually stunning, not to mention highly coveted, because the sad truth is, they are not very popular in Europe. Since I can't pop into a bakery to get a box of conchas, I had to learn how to make them from scratch.
Conchas are sweet buns topped with a coloured, sugary, crumbly dough scored across to resemble a seashell. They are fluffy and moist with a crunchy topping. Perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch or a midnight snack.
For 12-14 medium buns:
- 400g bread flour (+1/2 cup for kneading)
- 100g granulated sugar
- one sachet dried yeast (2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 180ml warm, whole milk
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 80g softened butter
- 150g softened butter
- 150 g powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 180g all purpose flour
- food colouring of choice; for brown use cocoa powder
- cooking spray or few teaspoons of neutral oil (for oiling the bowl and oiling the buns)
- very sharp knife, razor, clean utility knife or concha cutter
Step 1: SWEET DOUGH
- Use a stand mixer and a dough hook attachment.
- Place flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl and mix it with a hand whisk.
- Add warm (NOT HOT) milk, vanilla extract and eggs. Turn the mixer on low and mix until the dough comes together, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add softened butter, continue mixing on low for 2-3 minutes, or until all butter is incorporated. If it becomes stuck to the bowl or the hook, scrape it with a spatula.
- Once combined, turn the mixer on high and let it knead for 8-12 min.
- The dough will be quite wet, but it should come off the sides of the bowl easily. Don't be tempted to add more flour, this dough is supposed to be sticky.
- Prepare a large bowl, oil it lightly on the inside and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm spot to double in size ( 1-2 hours)
Step 2: DOUGH PROOFING
Sweet dough doubled in size.
Step 3: SUGAR TOPPING DOUGH
- Make the sugar topping while the dough is proofing.
- Mix softened butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Once smooth, add the flour and mix thoroughly until it resembles cookie dough.
- Choose your colours, divide the dough equally and dye it in as many colours as you want. For brown colour use 1-2 tsp cocoa powder
- Wrap each colour in cling film and put aside.
Step 4: BUN SHAPING
- Tip the dough onto a floured surface, sprinkle more flour on the top and knead it by hand for a few minutes until it deflates completely.
- Use a knife and a kitchen scale to divide the dough evenly. Make each bun between 60 and 90g. I made mine all 60g, once baked, they were medium sized and perfect for a snack.
- Shape the dough into even balls and place on a baking tray. Leave 2-3 inches of space between the balls.
- Spray each bun with cooking spray or brush them with a small amount of oil.
- When all the buns are shaped and placed on the baking tray move to the next step immediately before the buns have a chance to raise too much.
Step 5: SUGAR TOPPING
- Cut a few square sheets of waxed paper (about 7x7in).
- Place a ball of dough (25-30g) in the middle of the square sheet, cover it with another sheet. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin, or place a large plate on top and press it down into the dough to flatten it and make it into a circle. The dough is very soft, so this step is super easy.
- Peel one square sheet off the dough, pick up the remaining sheet with the circular sugar topping and transfer it onto the bun. Cover the entire surface of the bun with the sugar disc and gently peel the waxed paper off the sugar topping.
- Use a glass or a round cookie cutter to trim the edges of the sugar topping to make it more even.
Step 6: SURFACE SCORING AND BAKING
- If you have a concha cutter, dip it in flour, shake the excess off and press it onto the dough to score it.
- Alternatively you can use a sharp knife or a razor to cut through the sugar topping.
- The more cuts you score the better the bun will look. More cuts equal smaller, neater lines. Take a look at the two last pictures to see the difference.
Once all buns are covered in sugar topping and scored, leave it in a warm place for 30 min to double in size.
Bake at 160°C (fan oven) or 180°C (conventional oven) for 20-22min.
Step 7: SERVING
Best served warm, straight out of the oven or warmed up.
Buns can be frozen for a few weeks and defrosted in the microwave or on the counter.
Second Prize in the
Bread and Soup Speed Challenge