This is my newest bread obsession.  Unfortunately, it’s an obsession that contains quite a bit of butter and shortening, so I’ll have to make it an occasional thing.

Conchas are a Mexican sweet bread, named after the cuts in the top of the topping, which make the rolls look like shells.

I had seen them a lot in grocery stores and the Wal-Mart bakery, but some of them are colored a weird sort of yellow, and I don’t know, I just never thought they looked very good.  Then we went to a Mexican restaurant for Mother’s Day and they had bags of them, chocolate, pink, and white, and I thought Hmmm, those look pretty good.  Maybe we’ll try them.

So we did.  And they were good, if just a little stale.  Then I started wondering exactly what they were called, because as far as I knew they were “those Mexican sweet rolls”, and wondering how the topping is made (because it isn’t a traditional icing).  Google to the rescue, of course.  I found out the name and found several recipes, at which point of course I started thinking, I can do that!

The recipe I settled on came from here, at Delicious Shots.  Her pictures are much prettier than mine.

The dough is very similar to a brioche, and in fact when I do them again I plan to make them with the “Poor Man’s Brioche” recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  It has a few tweaks to the technique that might make the gluten develop better.  I think I kneaded the dough for about 20 minutes in my mixer before it came together.

The topping is a sort of cross between pie crust and icing.  It has lots of shortening, sugar, and flour.  You roll out little balls of it into flat circles and drape them over the rolls, then slice cuts into the topping and let the rolls rise.  The recipe made so much topping that I only used a little over half, so I froze the leftover for next time.  Since it’s so much like pie crust, I figured it would freeze.

My son asked me if I was trying to make those kind of rolls we had bought at the restaurant, and I said yes, at which point he admitted that he liked mine better.  Score one for Mommy! (And I also had to admit to him that I thought they were better, too.)

I took them to Wednesday night Bible study to share, as well, and they got good reviews there, too.  I was worried that they weren’t “authentic” because mine were much denser than ones we’d bought, but a lady who grew up eating them and says conchas are her favorite said she actually liked the denser texture better because when you bite into them, the topping doesn’t go crumbling and flaking all over the place.