The wonderful Kitchen of the Month hostess, Heather of Girlichef, chose Conchas as the September bread for the Bread Baking Babes. Conchas are Mexican sweet rolls with a sort of sugar cookie topping that is incised in shell patterns. Although you can use natural colors including cocoa, finely ground freeze dried fruits and matcha tea, I went with gel food colors this time for my topping. The end result was so pretty!
I tried to make these in a gluten free version, but that was a washout. I used butter flavored shortening instead of butter and I guess the totality of the oil was too much for the little yeasties. They barely grew, even when I added more flours and yeast after the first rising time produced little result. The taste was OK and the topping was delicious, but the rolls themselves were the opposite of light and fluffy, more like dry and crumbly and pretty flat. I will probably try making them with butter and regular flour and just have Sweetie eat them. I'm beginning to think that the GF sandwich bread success was a fluke.
I'll almost guarantee that if you make these that they will be better than mine. The link for the full recipe on Girlichef is at the bottom of the Sugar Topping recipe. To become a buddy, bake the conchas, send a photo and link to your post to Heather and do it by September 29th. Would love to see your beautiful conchas! Also, be sure to check out all the other Babes sites. Will be trying to do the linky thing and if I am successful, links to Babes posts will be at the very bottom of this post.
I'm not going to give any recipe for the rolls because the results were so poor, but I will give my topping recipe, just in case you want to try GF topping. Here is what they looked like right after I added the toppings.
Sugar Shell Topping for Conchas:1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/4 cup margarine or shortening (I used Earth Balance margarine)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (1/4 cup almond flour and 1/4 cup tapioca flour)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted gel food colors
While your conchas are doing the initial rise, make the sugar paste topping: Beat the sugars and margarine together until light and fluffy. Stir in flour and mix until a thick dough forms. Add additional flour if needed. Divide dough into 3 or 4 even pieces and tint each with food color. If the dough becomes sticky from the food color, add more flour. Cover the sugar toppings with plastic wrap so they won't dry out until you need them to top the formed conchas.
Divide your sugar topping into 12 or 16 equal pieces (same number as dough balls). Roll out the sugar paste pieces on a lightly floured surface (I used confectioners sugar instead of flour). Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter (or pastry ring or ring with diameter to fit top of concha, covering whole of top). Use the pastry ring to score lines into the paste to resemble the ridges on a seashell (concha). Don't cut all the way through the paste if possible. Transfer the scored sugar paste rounds to the buns using an offset spatula. If the paste doesn’t want to adhere naturally, use a pastry brush to apply dots of water on the underside before applying to the buns.