These pan dulces are good for breakfast, lunch and everything in-between! # 109: Chocolate Cinnamon Conchas
My dad used to do a breakfast run to the Mexican grocery store, Mi Pueblo, on Telegraph and come home with pan dulces with pink, orange and yellow cracked toppings. I have to admit, I always reached for the giant crumbly chocolate chip cookies in the bag and left the conchas for my mom and sister. Despite being the prettiest pastry in the bag, they were always a little too dry for me. Plus, anything with chocolate got priority over non-chocolate options.
Simple fix: make them with a cocoa topping! Joy the Baker‘s weekend post inspired me to tackle them, and I had mixed results. Most of the pictures in this post are from my first attempt, but the final product pictures are from my much-more-successful second attempt. I was going to use Joy’s recipe for the second attempt, but was too impatient to wait overnight for a pate fermentee again, so I looked up a challah bun recipe and took off baking.
I have a love/hate relationship with challah. On one hand, IT’S DELICIOUS. On the other, it’s the dough that broke my stand mixer with (and clearly, I’m still a lil salty about it.) I think I found a winner of a recipe for it though! I linked it at the bottom, so if you don’t already have a go-to challah bun recipe, go forth and bookmark it!
Pate fermentee is basically pre-leavened dough that you let rise overnight and then enrich it with eggs, flavorings, butter, etc. It’s supposed to help your dough reach happy heights, but mine was stubborn and didn’t want to play along.
This was before shaping it into a ball, but it never got much bigger than this. Potential factors:
- Yeast age: the yeast might have been past it’s prime
- Water temperature: the water might not have been warm enough to spark the yeast into action
- Kitchen temperature: my apartment was definitely chillier than ideal, so the dough couldn’t get cozy enough to rise to it’s fullest potential
Post-enrichment: sliiiightly puffy, but not doubled.
Anyone on GBBO would have thrown this batch out about 3 steps ago, but I have an aversion to wasting good ingredients. I decided to plow on and see what kind of buns came of this less-than-puffy dough.
The topping is super simple: it’s halfway between a streusel crumble and a shortbread dough. The recipe called for making two flavors: orange and chocolate and marbling them together. I decided to go all out and make the whole batch chocolate. I also added a hefty teaspoon of cinnamon, just for fun.
The first batch was rolled out extra thick because I assumed that it would spread out while baking. *buzzer* Incorrect! It holds it’s shape almost perfectly. This is why you have to score it to get the signature cracks. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a cocoa helmet for your bun (which would still taste delicious, just look less appetizing.)
Goofy lil buns, waiting for the oven. You let them proof a second time before baking so they can relax after being shaped. Since the yeast in the first batch wasn’t happy to begin with, the second proof didn’t make much of a difference. In the second batch, they plumped back up to double their size!
Batch #1 vs. batch #2. Turtle vs. concha. The correct version has a thinner topping, only scored in one direction instead of cross-hatched, and a slightly different bun recipe that proofed for much longer (and more successfully.)
As per usual, this was a learning experience. The lighter, fluffier second batch was delicious but dangerous – they’re way too easy to eat! I had to cut myself off after two conchas this morning.
Pairs well with your finest cup of tea or coffee! I’ll be using my new swan-floatie tea infuser – the cuter the infuser, the better the tea, right? Happy munching!
Challah recipe from: https://www.completelydelicious.com/challah-revisted-as-challah-rolls/
Concha topping recipe from: https://joythebaker.com/2017/10/orange-and-chocolate-conchas-mexican-sweet-breads/