Several weeks ago, over at our office, we were gifted something I’d never tried: conchas.
If you’re unfamiliar, like I was, a concha is a Mexican sweet roll. It gets its name from its crispy topping, which looks like a seashell.
Well, I was completely hooked after trying them. It was like getting to have bread and dessert all at once, and what midwesterner can resist such a combination?
I looked up how to make them, and of course, it’s an art form, but since I sometimes like a good challenge, I decided to try an easier version in the form of “manteconchas,” a mini version of the classic dish, and they did not disappoint.
The recipe I tried comes from the company website “Bread Stamps.” You can find the original at https://breadstamps.com/manteconchas. I added extra cinnamon and vanilla in my version and converted the amounts from grams.
- 2 teaspoons yeast (1 packet)
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon lukewarm milk
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/16 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3-4 drops cinnamon oil flavoring
- 1/2 cup flour
- Food coloring
- For the bread, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Combine the milk mixture, along with the butter, sugar, salt, egg, vanilla, cinnamon and about half of the flour into a mixer with a dough hook or start by mixing with a wooden spoon. Knead/stir for four to five minutes, and then add the rest of the flour and knead for seven to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. It will be sticky.
- Spray a bowl with cooking spray (spray your hands, too, to make handling the dough easier), and transfer the ball of dough into it. Cover it and let it rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
- For the topping, combine all of the ingredients, adding as much food coloring as you like at the end (you can split the mixture into several sections and get multiple colors, if you want). Knead the topping until it is smooth and then flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes.
- Once the dough is done resting, line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners and then separate the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball, and place them in the lined cupcake tin.
- Now split the topping into 12 equal pieces (I rolled mine into a snake to do this, and it was super easy to split evenly). You’ll want to minimize how much you touch the topping, because it will get sticky quickly. I recommend working with it on a piece of waxed paper to make it easier to pick up.
- Take each piece of topping and roll it into a ball. Using the heel of your hand, flatten the ball out to a disc about the same diameter as the cupcake tin wells.
- Stamp the piece of topping with a cookie stamp or use another tool to make a shallow design in the top. Do not cut all the way through the disc.
- Transfer the stamped discs to the tops of the bread, and let the manteconchas rest for another 45 minutes.
- When the time is almost up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 13 minutes. The bread that is peeking through the topping should be lightly browned and fully set.
- Remove the manteconchas from the cupcake tin and let them cool before storing them in an airtight container.
These had a great, warm cinnamon flavor, and they were so pretty, too. The best part about these is that you can choose your color and design for any time of year.
I didn’t have a cookie stamp, so I used my biscuit cutter and just cut partway down to create a bunch of circles or curves. Just be creative with it.
Obviously, this is a bit of a time consuming recipe with having to wait for the dough to rise, but the excitement when you take these out of the oven and the bread has risen through the cracks in the topping is pretty palpable.
And now that I found this recipe, I might just stick to the mini version of conchas. It’s just as delicious but a little kinder to your waistline.
This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 10, 2020.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.