Earlier this year, I hosted my niece for Spring Break. She was here just as the pandemic hit and the world froze. The way we dealt with the stress and uncertainty of life was by baking. Something about following a recipe with the end result being a tasty treat, helped put our concerns on the back burner and focus on the joys of life.
As the weather cools down and we’re officially into Fall, I’m reminded of our baking session.
A friend had given meTartine Bakery cookbook as an engagement gift (I got engaged in December!!!) The Tartine Bakery is a famous bakery in San Francisco that I discovered years ago while visiting my younger brother. I was lucky enough to stop in recently when my family and I were in San Francisco celebrating Christmas.My niece and I thumbed through the pages of the Tartine Bakery Cookbook and settled on a recipe to make Mexican conchas! I’ve always wondered how these were made. I’ve often marveled at the neatly designed sugary tops and light airy sweet bread. For those unfamiliar, a concha is a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll. Conchas get their name from their round shape and their striped, seashell-like appearance.As we discovered, conchas are a labor of love but worth the all the effort. The first step is to make a brioche dough, then the topping, and finally molding each roll and baking. The rolls turned out perfectly – pillowy and light with a sweet crust. Pair these with Mexican hot chocolate for a true Mexican treat! Here are the steps we took to make these delectable sweet rolls.
Step 1 – Make Poolish
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of instant yeast over 3/4 cup of warm water. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, measure out 1 cup + 2 tbsp of bread flour. Pour water and yeast mixture into flour and mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to ferment in room temperature for 2 hours.
Step 2 – Make Dough
Sprinkle 1 tbsp of instant yeast over 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp of cold milk and mix with a spoon. Add this to the poolish along with 4 chilled large eggs and 5 large egg yolks. Use a stand mixer to mix for 1 minute on slow speed. In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of bread flour, 1 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp of all purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 3/4 tbsp of salt. Cut 1/1/2 cups + 1 tbsp unsalted butter into cubes. Add flour mixture to poolish to mix for 2 minutes. Then add one tbsp of butter to mixture one at a time and mix for another 6-8 minutes. Transfer dough to another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for an hour.
Step 3 – Make Rolls
When dough has risen to twice the size, remove onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 even pieces and roll out. Place rolls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Then place the sheet in refrigerator overnight to bake the next day.
Step 4 – Make Concha Topping
In stand mixer, combine 1/2 cup of room temperature butter, 1/2 cup + 4 tsp sugar. In separate bowl combine 1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp of baking powder. Add to the butter and sugar. Cut the topping into 12 equal pieces. Roll out each portion between two pieces of parchment paper. With a sharp knife, cut each topping into semi-circles that resembles the ridges of a seashell.
Step 5 – Bake and Enjoy!
Beat one large egg and add 1 tbsp of milk. Lightly brush egg wash onto each roll. Then carefully lay sugary topping onto each roll. Let conchas rest for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature so they can finish rising. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then bake conchas for 15-18 minutes. Let conchas cool and finally enjoy!