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Monday, January 24, 2011

Conchas - Mexican Shell-Shaped Sweet Rolls





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The town in which I live is surrounded by small and tightly knit farming communities. Agriculture has brought amazing diversity to this valley and it is not uncommon for farm workers to form communities of their own within the larger demographic. Tucked here and there, in towns originally settled by Germans and Scandinavians, you can find bodegas, panaderias and cantinas, as well as an occasional noodle bar that all speak to the tastes of the newer inhabitants. All refute the claim of full assimilation into the fabric of the larger community. Not all of the old ways can easily be put aside, and these are places where one's habits and memories of home are understood and can be shared. They are also a rich source of information and taste memory for culinary gypsies who travel back roads and byways to seek their treasures out. I had my first concha in just such a place about 10 years ago. A concha is a light, almost cloud-like, Mexican sweet roll that has a sugar-shell pattern on its top. They are lovely when fresh and Lucullean when fresh and warm. They are also dirt cheap and, even now, can be had three for a dollar. My determination to make them has nothing to do with cost and is based solely on my need to put another notch in my culinary belt. I need to know I can make them. I've been baking bread this week and because all my paraphernalia was handy, I thought I'd give conchas another try. I've mastered the bread portion of this treat a while back, but my toppings, while getting better, are still pitiful. The topping is actually a doughy sugar paste that is placed on top of formed and risen dough and carved in place. In case you can't tell, I've used a shell pattern for my sweet rolls. I had planned to share professionally made conchas with you so you could see how beautiful they can be, but they had all been sold by the time I got to the bodega. We'll just have to carry on with mine. I hope those of you who are into bread and have never made a concha will give these a try. I hope those of you who do not bake will try a concha, at least once, now that you know how delicious they can be. Here's the recipe for those of you who'd like to try your hand at making these.


Conchas - Mexican Shell-Shaped Sweet Rolls
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by The Big Apple

Ingredients:
Dough
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Topping
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1) To make dough: In a large bowl, stir together yeast and warm water. Mix in milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, egg and 2 cups flour. Gradually mix in remaining flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a floured counter to knead as soon as it pulls together enough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a large greased bowl, and turn the dough to coat. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
2) To make topping: In a medium bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Stir in flour until mixture is consistency of thick paste. Divide into two parts, and place one part in a separate bowl. Mix cinnamon into one half, and vanilla into other half.
3) To assemble: When the dough is done rising, cut into 12 even-sized pieces. Shape into balls, and place on a greased cookie sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart. Divide each bowl of topping into 6 balls, and pat flat. Place circles of topping on top of dough balls patting down lightly. Use a knife to cut grooves in the topping like a clam shell. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Yield: 1 dozen rolls.

You might also like these recipes:
Bolillos - Girlichef
Besos - A Mexican Sweet Bread - Tennie Cakes
Capirotada Mexican Bread Pudding - Homesick Texan
Pan de Muerto - One Perfect Bite
Pan de Muerto - Wild Yeast
Conchas de Colores Naturales - Wild Yeast

This post is being linked to:
Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting

72 comments:

Kankana said...

They look so yummy .. beautiful presentation :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

They look quite delicious. Diane

Ginny said...

I wish I could taste one of these, your description makes them sound just divine!!! I've never heard of them, but i bet I could live off of them. That pattern is so precise, it looks almost machine made, very lovely.

Umm Mymoonah said...

Wow! This is what I first thought by looking at this, looks very unique and delicious.

Jess @ Bakericious said...

I like this bread, looks so delicious.

lena said...

thanks for introducing conchas to me..would like to try this too some day

mara said...

look so delicious!

Asteri said...

It looks so delicious!!!!

MaryMoh said...

My gosh...this looks really pretty and delicious. Thanks very much for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful day.

My Little Space said...

Conchas is something I always looking forward to bake. Yours look stunning. I supposed conchas has semi-hard crust compare to Japanese melon pan which is soft, something like Hong Kong polo bun. I'm sure I'm going to love it too. Hope you're having a great week ahead.
Blessings, Kristy

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Not only some lovely writing about the diversity of food, but an amazing take on conchas. I've tried this once, at a bakery in Queens, NY. You did a beautiful job!

Jane-Anne said...

How beautiful and delicious! I'm not much of a baker but your lovely photographs really inspire me to try harder this year. Thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog, Mary.

Marcellina said...

Wow! This looks amazing but the ingredients are so simple! I must try it!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Wow, these are gorgeous. I've never heard of conchas. How wonderful to be able to purchase them locally and even better to be able to make your own.
Sam

Sanjeeta kk said...

How beautiful and delicious the rolls look! Love the interesting patterns over it. Lovely click, Mary.

Susan said...

Never heard of them, but will be on the lookout for them now. Mary, your culiinary belt must run around your waist two or three times. It has to be that large to carry all the notches of your accomplishments!!!

What's next said...

Sounds wonderful and looks good! You would think in Tx I would have heard of these or seen them somewhere...Now I want to find them somewhere!

Olive said...

I've never heard of this before..it's beautiful and delicious! I'm not very good with bread making but I hope to try this someday

ann said...

Beautiful pictures and great explanation of traditions in other areas of the country. These look wonderful, Mary.

Debbie said...

I've been back in to bread making lately as well. Now you've challenged me to try this. I think yours look lovely.

Martha said...

I always envy you your yeast using skills!

Kim said...

WOW! these are so cute. I never add conchas, but I think I'm gonna try these!

Clint said...

Beautiful, and I'm sure delicious as well. My problem is that I know myself too well to even try one. I'd never stop eating until they were all gone. Great post!

Jenn said...

I just had my first conchas about 6 months ago... I fell in love with them! Yours look beautiful, do not sell yourself short!!

♥Sugar♥Plum♥Fairy♥ said...

Pretty pretty Chonchas u have here Mary!Absolutely pretty!

This is the first time have even seen them!

Design Wine and Dine said...

You always impress me Mary! I love that you made these and but of course you can!!!! I have had them before but would sure love to try one of yours! :)

Kim said...

Mary - Your conchas look beautiful! I've been hearing so much about them lately and I've never had one. I'll have to remedy that, either by making them or buying some!

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

I think your conchas look beautiful! They do sound delicious.

Mickey said...

Living in Texas, my mother bought these home weekly from the market. Us kids devoured them. Mary yours are as perfect as the ones I remember. They are gorgeous...perfect. I am amazed at what you can do:)
mickey

The Chef In My Head said...

My gosh Mary, is there anything you CAN'T make??? These are so pretty. Here I live just north of San Antonio I have never know how these were made. So pretty! ~Leslie

bellini valli said...

If I drive south of the border into to the States there are plenty of Mexican ingredients and restaurants to be found. It seems like i might be time for some cross-border shopping.

June said...

I wondered how these were made and now I can't wait to try them too. By the way, I am completely sincere when I say how fortunate you are that you live in a place that welcomes diversity. It tops our list of reasons for heading back to the Pacific Northwest as soon as we are able to.

The Cilantropist said...

Wow these are stunning! And strange, I live in San Diego where mexican food is prevalent and I have never seen one of these. I must hunt one down. :)

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Wow . . . simply wow.

Fondly,
Glenda

xinex said...

I could eat some of this right now, Mary. Yum!...Christine

That Girl said...

These are gorgeous. I've seen these in Mexican bakeries, but would never have thought to make them myself.

Rita said...

Wonderful!I've never heard of this but I'm very intrigued.

happywhennothungry said...

Wow! I've never had conchas before, but they look absolutely beautiful and delicious! Thanks for sharing Mary!!!

EliFla said...

I never heard about conchas before..that sound good and delicious...and it's even nice to see!!Have a great weeki, hugs, Flavia

PeggyR said...

Those sound really good!

something good said...

It looks great! What a nice decor idea!
Thanks a lot for stopping by my blog today.

The Blonde Duck said...

I love Mexican pastries! Empanadas are my downfall!

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

They look amazing - that topping sounds yummylicious! I'd love to have a few of these beautiful bites!

Alicia said...

Oh my gosh! You are amazing! I've eaten these little sweeties a million and one times in my life (hence my hips and waistline, but I digress), but I have never thought of making them myself.

We have at least 4 seperate panaderias in our small town so it's certainly inexpensive to just go buy them, but it would be such fun to try to make them just once...just for the experience. Love this post!

teresa said...

these are so dang pretty, i love the sugary shell, lovely!

Juliana said...

Mary, these sweet rolls look like that they cake directly from the bakery...beautiful!

Elin said...

Mary...these conchas look great....you are so good at them that they look like store bought ones. I would love to try making after the Chinese new year celebration;). Thank you for sharing the recipe. Have a good day!

Cheers,
Elin

A Busy Nest said...

I would love to try these!
-Meredith @ A Busy Nest

Lizzy said...

Oh, boy, what a gorgeous roll! I'd hardly call your decorative technique pitiful...it's a work of art!!! I hope I get a chance to taste one someday :)

Joanne said...

i have always wanted to make conchas! They are just so visually appealing and look so delicious. yours are perfect!

Annie said...

These are so cute and interesting!

Quay Po Cooks said...

I learn about so many new foods from blogger friends since I started my blog. This is another one. Looks so lovely and sounds so delicious.

scrambledhenfruit said...

I've never seen these- they're stunning! They sound delicious too. :)

sweetpeaskitchen.com said...

Yummy!!! Another awesome bread recipe! :) This looks so beautiful and I bet it is delicious. I have never made conchas before, I need to give them a try! :)

Velva said...

There is no doubt that I would enjoy these treats with a good cup of coffee.

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

velva

Red Nomad OZ said...

Wow - they look amazing! Now ... if only I could find an Aussie bakery nearby to make them for me!

Rhonda said...

Wow, wow and one more wow. Amazing looking rolls! You are so talented!

sally said...

Certainly is a notch on your belt—these conchas are impressive!

Jeannie said...

Your conchas looked perfect to me Mary! Am so inspired to make some for myself...have printed out the recipe:D Thanks!

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

How unique! Food diversity is always such a great thing. I've never heard of concha.

Lucie said...

Wow, Mary. The pattern on the conchas is amazing! I love these sweet breads, dipped in hot cocoa!

Mary said...

Olive, I'm unable to connect to your site. I'm so glad you came to visit. I hope you'll be back often. Blessings...Mary

Mrs K said...

Mary,What an amazing culinary experience for those of you who are living around such diverse communities.Concha is a real baking marvel,love the pattern on it. I will be trying this out soon.Thanks for introducing this to me :)

Jackie at Phamfatale.com said...

I love how the topping looks. so pretty!

Angie's Recipes said...

wow..those sweet rolls look extremely pretty with the shell-shaped surface. Very nice!

Suchi said...

Wonderful presentation- thanks for visiting my site and your lovely comments! Loved your site and the presentation is really good- keep inspiring!

Noelle said...

WOW, I have had this recipe saved from a cookbook I got from the library and had not had a chance to make them. I really would like to now! Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog!

girlichef said...

Oh my gosh, Mary---Conchas are pretty much my favorite!!! They look amazing :D

p.s..thanks for linking to my bolillos :)

kirbie said...

I love the sugary crust on these breads. Yours came out really pretty!

Anonymous said...

we call this a "mollete" here is so. texas...and yes, they are so good. they make them in pink and chocolate as well.

lisaiscooking said...

They're so lovely looking! I've never tried making these, but I'm inspired to now.

cutekittypunk said...

beautiful sweet roll. Would you mind linking it at my sweet roll linky party @ http://sweet-rolls-that-rock.blogspot.com/2011/03/sweet-rolls-o-rama-linky-party.html

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