Conchas- Mexican Sweet bread

Every New Year's Eve, we at the Little Rooster's home have the tradition of preparing "conchas,” a popular type of Mexican sweet bread. 

This bread is delicious, and if you pair it with hot chocolate (especially in winter months), it is extraordinary.

A couple of warnings:

  • This bread isn't for the faint of heart. It has a ton of calories!
  • Also, give yourself plenty of time because it takes a long time to prepare. But trust me, they will be worth it.
 Conchas -Image taken from Google.

Conchas -Image taken from Google.

There are many recipes online explaining how to prepare conchas, but we found that La Cocina Mexicana de Pily has the best one. You can take this as the base and then add a little twist to make it your own (as we did).

The link we're referencing is in Spanish, so we're translating it to English.

Ingredients:

For the bread

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 0.75 oz active yeast (they sell them in those portions)
  • 1 whole bar of unsalted butter (or 4 oz)
  • 1 tsp milk powder (optional)
  • zest of 1 orange (optional)

For the frosting 

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 bar of butter
  • 1 tsp chocolate powder (optional) or
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional) or
  • any other flavor you'd like..
 This is what we used. All the gluten and the calories :)

This is what we used. All the gluten and the calories :)

Procedure using a mixer:

1.-Pour the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar into a bowl with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. This will activate the yeast. Mix well and let it rest for approximately 10-15 min. You'll know when it's ready because you'll see foam.

2.-In a bowl, mix the bar of softened butter and the 2/3 cup of sugar until they are perfectly integrated.

3.-Add the eggs one by one and keep mixing.

4.-Add the yeast and a pinch of kosher salt (and the milk powder) and keep mixing.  Add the orange zest.

5. -If you have a hook for your mixer, it's time to use it. 

  • Set the mixer on low and start adding the flour little by little. If the dough is too wet after the 3 cups, add a bit more.
  • You'll know it's ready when the dough looks sticky but it doesn’t stick to your fingers.

6.-With the mixer on high, let the hook do its job for about 10 minutes. After a little while, you'll hear the dough "hitting" the bowl. At that point, the dough will be shiny and elastic. It's done!

 That's how the dough looks after 10 minutes.

That's how the dough looks after 10 minutes.

7.-With a little oil on your hands, cover the dough with oil and put it into a clean bowl. This will prevent it from sticking to the bowl when it rises.

8.-Cover the bowl with a damp cloth for at least 2 hours or longer. To be honest, you'll get better results if you leave it at least 4 hours.

9.-Meanwhile, we'll do the frosting. If you want your conchas more flavorful, you can double the ingredients (yes, that´ll be two bars of butter just for the frosting!). 

9.1 in a bowl, simply mix the powdered sugar, the butter and the flour until it's soft and no longer sticks to your hands (here you can add the vanilla, or the chocolate of whatever flavor you want your frosting to be).

 Be patient, it'll be really sticky at the beginning!

Be patient, it'll be really sticky at the beginning!

10.-After the 2 (or 4) hours, take the dough out of the bowl and make small balls about the size of a key lime to a lime.

11.-Put the balls on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Make sure there's some separation between them because they'll grow again. Flatten them a bit with your hand so the frosting sits better.

12.-We're putting the frosting on the the balls now. Make a little ball with the frosting mix and flatten it using the bottom of a glass (we use a ziploc bag in between so the frosting doesn't stick to the bottom of the glass). The flattened frosting ball should cover the whole top of the dough.

13.-Using a sharp knife, you can make figures in the frosting.

 Dough balls with frosting

Dough balls with frosting

14.-Cover the dough balls one more time with a cloth and let them rise for 2 more hours.

15.-Preheat the oven to 300 F.

16.-Bake them about 20-25 min until the bottom of each concha is golden color.

17.-Get some hot cocoa and enjoy!

 Voilá!

Voilá!

 

Addendum:

Procedure using your hands:

1.-Put the flour in a work surface and form a "volcano"

2.-Add the yeast and the eggs.

3.-Start kneading slowly and patiently. At this point this is really sticky.

4.-Add the butter, salt and sugar and keep mixing until fully integrated.

(optional) add the milk powder.

5.-Keep adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.

6.-Now the arm workout. Keep kneading more and more. you can hit the dough against the table (that'll develop the gluten) until it's shiny and and elastic.

7.-Steps are the same as the procedure above.