Conchas recipe

based on All Recipes’ Best Basic Sweet Bread #27,023 recipe.

Unusual equipment required

Environmental conditions required

room should be about 80-90 degrees and fairly humid where the rolls will rise. (if proofing box is available, it may work as a substitute for room conditions.) the room’s temperature can be increased by pre-heating the oven however this will decrease the room’s humidity


chop the butter into blocks 1-2 cm long on each side. combine, heat and stir in a saucepan until 200F. put pan into freezer to accelerate cooling

can wash: butter-chopping knife

weigh flour in mixing bowl. add salt and cinnamon. whisk together by hand

whisk with a stick blender when milk mixture down to 120F or so remove pan from freezer (note: pan will be cold, so taking out at 110F will cause the liquid to over-cool). stir

add to milk mixture

when milk mixture is 105 to 110F add yeast. stir until dissolved

can wash: thermometer

add to flour

can wash: measuring spoons, saucepan

mix with spatula until ingredients combined. use bread hook on low (in three-speed Hobart) for five minutes. flip dough and use bread hook for five more minutes. use hands to gather the dough together. (failure to make a nice ball will leave ugly seams on the rolls.) pam the inside of the mixer bowl, lifting the dough ball and pamming underneath so it will not stick to any part of the bowl. try to not pam the top of the dough ball

cover bowl with linen cloth (rather than plastic wrap, to encourage the top of the dough ball to dry slightly) and let the yeast work until it passes the “finger test” (a finger pushed into the dough doesn't spring back, but doesn't leave a hole that just sits there). about 30-45 minutes maybe, depending on freshness of yeast and warmth of kitchen

note: if you are warming the kitchen by pre-heating the oven, you can maximize the heat by placing the bowl on top of the refrigerator. but do not directly warm the bowl e.g. by putting directly on the oven, because then the first raise will be too much, see below

can wash: spatula, bread hook

sift confectioner’s sugar and break up clumps

sift cocoa into same bowl, breaking up clumps

can wash: sieve

whisk confectioner’s sugar, cocoa (if applicable) and flour together by hand in large bowl

can wash: whisk

add shortening to sugar/flour bowl. combine by hand. put topping into refrigerator to chill for a few minutes

weigh topping on saran wrap, use digital scale to divide into 12 pieces of 40 g, form into neat balls and return to refrigerator to chill

can wash/put away: bowl used for topping, digital scale

invert bowl onto lightly floured polyethylene cutting board, flip over (which "punches down" the dough, and puts the unoiled side up). use a scraper to chop into halves, then halves, then thirds, for 12 pieces total. try to make the pieces squarish but this is not critical. gather the edges of each piece and tuck under to form a smooth ball. put six on a half-sheet silicone mat and six on another half-sheet silicone mat

note: if the dough is too soft to flip, or if the surface of the balls is not smooth, but is holey like the inside of a loaf of bread, the initial raise went on too long or was at too high a temperature which means the final raise will not be enough. the critical factor in whether the conchas are delicious or merely passable is whether the dough raises correctly the first and second times

set aside balls to rise, for perhaps two hours in a warm room. they will rise considerably. spritz immediately and then periodically with water from the atomizer to keep the surface of the dough moist. a huge determinant of how much the balls rise is how much they are constricted by the surface of the dough drying out

can wash: everything except the stick blender, scraper, polyethylene cutting board and the silicone mats the rolls are sitting on

remove the topping balls one at a time from the refrigerator and press each into into a disc slightly larger than the concha cutter. to press the balls, flip the polyethylene cutting board to the side without the juice groove, lightly flour the cutting board and put the ball down. put saran wrap over the ball and press it with the flat side of the scraper. do this in 2-4 steps, each time, loosening the flattened ball and reflouring the surface. if the topping balls are kept chilled, they should not stick, but if a disc sticks at all to the cutting board, use a spatula to scrape the cutting board clean and re-flour

to do the concha shape, press the concha cutter into the disc. don’t press so hard that the dough sticks into the cutter (note - the cutter is reversible, so if one side gets gummed up the other side can be used to finish the batch), but don’t press so lightly that the sections don’t come apart in the oven. (press “halfway.”) use the point of a sharp paring knife to trim any “flash” (excess dough) from the disc. if the disc sticks to the cutter gently peel it away. place the disc onto a roll. try to center it. gently press around the edges so the topping conforms to the shape of the dough

to do a free-hand shape, same thing (cutter-sized disc) but don’t use the cutter. place as usual. use the point of a sharp paring knife to either carve a grid or a spiral shape. note that the point will go through the entire thickness of the topping so for consistency, it’s important to cut all the way to the edge. a pie crust cutter can also be used which gives a nice wavy pattern

once a ball has a “topping” on it, there is no need to spritz that ball again

can wash: everything except the stick blender

whisk with a stick blender. then brush onto visible parts of the rolls using a pastry brush. those will be the only parts showing so it's important to do a good job

can wash: stick blender and pastry brush

when fully risen, the rolls should be fluffy and fairly large, maybe an inch showing all around the edge of the topping. bake at 350 for 25 mins or until done. the rolls will expand further in the oven. note: if batches are done sequentially and the same pan is re-used, the pan should be cooled, like in the sink, before adding another silicone sheet full of rolls