I have made conchas a few times, making adjustments each time to this recipe by Melissa Amador. This past weekend I think I finally got them just the way I like. Don’t be intimidated – try the original or my variation below. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and your house will smell like a panadería all day.
Conchas (Mexican-style Pan Dulce)
5 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
8 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a few drops red food coloring
In a large bowl stir yeast and water. Add evaporated milk, sugar, butter, lemon extract, salt, eggs and half the flour. Gradually add the rest of the flour.
Knead on a floured surface. Work in an additional 1/4 to 1/2 of flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a large ball. Put in a large greased bowl. Cover in a warm area. Let rise until doubled (1 hour)
In a medium bowl beat sugar and butter. Stir in flour until it is like a paste. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring until desired pink color is achieved. (The food coloring is optional, but I think it’s pretty.) Set aside.
Back to the dough:
Cut dough into 24 equal pieces. Form into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. (Twelve per cookie sheet works for me.) Divide the pink topping into 24 balls. Cover each dough ball with a thin layer of topping by pressing the pink topping flat into a disc-shape on top of the dough ball. You do not want the topping to be thick or it will fall off after baking. (See image)
Use a knife to cut grooves into the top of each concha. You can also use a drinking glass to make a pattern with curved lines.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Bake in 375 F oven on middle rack for a little less than 20 minutes.
Yield: 24 conchas