Recipe by Sarah Phillips and Kelly Hong; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2- 25-2015 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Conchas are a traditional Mexican sweet bread, that features a sweet and fluffy bun, topped with a crunchy cookie topping.
Conchas are usually scored to resemble sea shells, hence the name, but we decided to dress them up for Spring and Easter by impressing them with a flower design instead.
These would make a delightful addition to your Easter breakfast or brunch table.
They are so yummy that they’d be a great treat for your child’s Easter basket too.
Get creative and make your own topping colors and designs!
BREAD RECIPE HELP
For the buns:
1 package, or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup water, warmed to 115 degrees F
1/2 cup half and half or evaporated milk, warmed to 115 degrees F
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 - 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
For the cookie topping:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
1 teaspoon vanilla
STEP I: MAKE THE CONCHAS BUN DOUGH
1. Rinse out the bowl of a stand mixer with warm water to warm it.
In it stir together the yeast and warm water. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Stir the ingredients.
3. Warm the milk, then add it to the yeast mixture.
3. Add the sugar, melted butter, egg, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir to combine.
4. Add two cups of the flour, and stir until smooth.
5. Clamp the bowl on stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook attachment.
Add an additional cup of flour and mix for about two minutes on medium speed.
Continue to add flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until you have a soft and slightly sticky dough, that wraps around the dough hook and leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
You may not need all of the flour or you may need a little more.
Continue to beat for an additional 4 minutes on medium speed.
6. Put finished dough on your work surface (without flour if mixed properly) and briefly knead it, then place it in a large oiled bowl.
If the dough sticks to the work surface, add pinches of flour to it.
7. Once kneaded, turn the dough over, to oil the top of the dough, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
NOTE: You can also use Sarah's Microwave Bread Proofer to help speed the process.
STEP II: MAKE THE CONCHAS COOKIE DOUGH TOPPING
While dough is rising, make the cookie dough topping for the buns.
1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
Beat on medium to soften the butter, then add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl.
Then add the vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down the bowl once.
2. Add the flour, with the mixer on low speed.
Beat until the dough just starts to come together, then scrape down the bowl.
Continue beating for about 20 seconds longer, or until the mixture starts to form clumps, then stop.
3. Weigh the dough, then make two equal size portions.
Add ONE DROP red food coloring to one bowl.
Add TWO DROPS violet food color to the other bowl.
Mix the doughs by hand, to distribute the colors evenly, then form each color into a ball, place the balls into small bowls and cover the bowls with plastic wrap.
NOTE: The colors may look a little pale at this point, but the color will “bloom” and deepen as it sets.
STEP III: DEFLATE THE CONCHAS BUN DOUGH AND SHAPE THEM.
1. When the Conchas bun dough has doubled. Gently deflate it, and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Then cut it into two equal portions with a bench scraper or a sharp knife.
2. Working with 1/2 of dough at a time, roll dough into a sausage shape and cut it into 6 equal portions.
When not in use, lightly cover the dough at all times with a greased side down piece of plastic wrap so a dry skin won't form on the outside.
Repeat with the remaining dough, making 12 portions total.
Roll each portion into a ball.
3. Place balls of dough on two silpat or parchment lined baking sheets.
Place 6 rolls on each sheet.
Press down the balls of dough to create a flattened circle, like a hamburger bun.
Cover the baking sheets loosely with a greased-side-down sheet of plastic wrap while you form the cookie topping.
STEP IV: FORM THE COOKIE DOUGH TOPPING. SHAPE AND DECORATE THE COOKIE DOUGH TOPPING ON THE BUN DOUGH. HEAT THE OVEN AND BAKE.
Form the cookie dough topping:
1. Roll each color of the cookie dough topping into a sausage shape and cut each into 6 equal portions, making 12 in all.
Roll each portion into a ball.
2. Cut a heavy-duty zip top bag into two 6-inch squares.
Place one ball between the sheets of plastic and flatten the ball by pressing it down evenly with a bench scraper.
Shape and decorate the cookie dough topping on the bun dough:
1. Remove the top sheet of plastic and, leaving the flatted cookie dough circle on the other sheet, flip it on top of a bun dough on the prepared baking sheet.
Carefully peel off the plastic sheet.
2. Gently form the cookie topping to conform with the top of the bun.
3. Press a 2 3/4-inch flower cutter into the cookie topping, making sure not to cut into the bun dough.
Repeat with a 1 3/4-inch flower cutter and a 1-inch flower cutter.
4. Repeat the above steps with the rest of the buns, then cover both baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap (not greased) or kitchen towels and let the buns rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled.
NOTE: Do NOT use Sarah's Microwave Proofer to help speed the rising process; the colors may run from the cookie dough because of the moisture in the proofer.
Heat the oven and bake:
1. Twenty minutes before the buns are done rising, position two oven shelves in the oven: set one in lower third and one in upper third; just do your best to space them out evenly.
Then heat the oven to 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes
2. Bake the risen buns for 18 - 20 minutes or until light golden brown on top.
3. Remove them from the oven.
NOTE: After baking, you may have some pooling of the cookie topping at the bottom of the buns, if you want to be fancy, just trim them with a pizza cutter before removing to a wire cake rack.
To be honest with you, these crispy bits are the best part of the roll. ;^)
4. Remove the buns from the baking sheets and cool completely on a wire rack.
Store buns at room temperature, in an airtight container for up to three days.