In Mexico, pan dulce is served in the morning with coffee or hot chocolate. There are many types of these little pastries, and the smell outside the panadería, or bread shop, in the morning is among my fondest memories from my travels in Mexico. Concha is the Spanish word for "seashell." These small, round sweet breads are topped with crispy sugar striped with a design that makes them resemble shells. The same dough is used for Pan de Muerto.
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks and 4 egg whites
- 1/2 cup milk
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 cup for glaze
- 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons ground anise
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand until small bubbles form at the edge, about 10 minutes. In another small bowl, whisk together the 4 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, and milk.
In a large bowl, mix 5 cups of the flour with 3/4 cup of the sugar, the orange zest, anise, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture looks crumbly. Pour in the dissolved yeast and mix until blended. Add the milk-egg mixture and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding some of the remaining 1 cup of flour, as needed. Roll the dough into a ball, put it into a greased bowl, turn once, cover with a damp towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.
After the dough has risen the first time, punch it down, cut it into 3- to 4-ounce pieces, and roll into balls. Each ball should be about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites and remaining 1 cup of sugar until they begin to get airy and fluffy.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and place the balls about 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, gently flatten each ball. With a pastry brush, brush a generous amount of the egg-sugar mixture over the top of each roll. Then, with the tines of a fork, make crisscross marks across the top of each. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove, let stand briefly, then serve warm.
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