Saturday, 16 September 2017

Vegan Conchas/Pan Dulce

I need to admit something right off the bat - I've never had a Concha before.
Phew, now that's out of the way! I've never seen Conchas here in the UK although I know they're very popular in the US and Mexico, where they originate from. I've seen pictures on Instagram and always thought they looked delicious, and really pretty with their crunchy sugar topping. The other day while scrolling through pinterest I stumbled upon a blog post on Sprinkle Bakes with a recipe for these sweet rolls and I was immediately drawn in by the beautiful colours of the Pan Dulce. I couldn't put them out of my mind, so I decided to veganize the Sprinkle Bakes recipe and a few hours later I had the cutest, most delicious baked goods ever!

Traditional Conchas are made from an enriched dough made with egg and butter, and topped with a white or brown sugar paste before being baked. I used my go-to egg replacer AQUAFABA to replace the egg in this recipe (there's nothing aquafaba can't do) and replaced the butter with dairy free spread and vegetable shortening. And of course I made them brightly coloured, because if you can - why not! 

Vegan Conchas
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes 16 
For the rolls
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water, 105 to 115°F
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegan buttery spread (I used Vitalite)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4C chickpea aquafaba (straight from the can)
4C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the sugar paste
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup margarine or vegetable shortening (I used Stork block margarine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Various gel food colours

Pour the warm water into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast, stirring to dissolve. Add the plant milk, sugar, vegan butter, aquafaba, salt & 2 cups of flour and mix with the paddle attachment until very few lumps remain. Switch to the bread dough hook and add 1.5 cups of flour and mix on a low-medium speed until the flour is combined into the dough. If the dough is too sticky add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead at a medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth. It should be fairly soft but not too sticky. Place dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise in a warm place for an hour an a half, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is proving, make your sugar paste.Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and flour and mix with a spoon until a fairly stiff paste forms. Split into three bowls and add your food colouring of choice. If the sugar paste is sticky after adding the food gel simply add a few more tablespoons of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until needed.

Once your dough has doubled in size carefully turn it out onto a well floured surface. Press down slightly to make a large rectangle and cut into 16 even pieces. Form each piece of dough into a ball and place on lined baking trays, leaving enough space between each bun for them to rise/spread out a little.

To make the sugar paste toppings take one of the balls of paste and carefully roll it out on a floured surface until its about 1/2 a centimeter thick. Use a round cookie cutter (about the same size or slightly bigger than the size of the rolls) to cut circles out of the paste. Use the cookie cutter to score lines into the paste to resemble a sea shell (concha). Using a pastry brush, brush the top of each roll with water and then carefully use a spatula to transfer each sugar paste design on to each roll. Use your hands to gently press the paste on top of each roll to secure it in place. (Heather of Sprinkle Bakes made a great video showing this method, pop over to her post here to see how it's done!)

Cover the buns with plastic wrap and leave to prove again for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375/190. After the second prove bake the sweet rolls, one tray at a time, for 18-20 minutes. When done they will be risen, smell delicious and the bases of the rolls will be browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.

Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days. Rolls can be reheated in the microwave for 20 seconds if they need softening up.

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