Conchas are actually shells, but these Conchas are a Mexican pastry that is famous for its shell-like shape. The pastry contains a sugar shell pattern on the top. This is one of the most famous Mexican pastries and widely recognized in the United States. It is also referred to as “pan de huevo”.Well I was first introduced to this by Gayathri , Yes this was our May challenge for Eggless Baking Group. I have been out of this group since a few months due to various reasons and Gayathri has been very sweet . She has not struck my name off !!Thanks dear. 
When I first read about the challenge I knew it would be tough and forgot about it, though it was always on the back of mind.Then on 29th I called up PJ to ask about the difficulty level.She was sweet and instantly mailed me her version.Can’t thank her enough. The recipe was with me and I made these on 30th itself but due to erratic network could not post yesterday.Thanks Gayathri and PJ. I guess I needed a push , we loved these Conchas, but later realised I could have done a better job where the design part was concerned. We were very happy with the taste of this sweet bread. Please refer to PJ’s post for step by step pics.

Eggless Conchas

For the starter 
1 cup all purpose flour 
2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cup warm milk

For the dough 
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp egg replacer mixed in 3 tbsp of water
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar, powdered
2 tsp vanilla essence

For the cookie topping
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar, powdered
1/2 cup soft butter
Pinch salt

Cocoa powder and other food colors as needed.
I used cocoa powder and crushed black berries. 

For the starter 
Combine milk and yeast in a bowl and add the flour.
Mix well .Cover and set aside till frothy/ bubbly/ double in volume.

Meanwhile prepare the topping
In a bowl take the flour, sugar and butter and make a dough out of it.
If it is too crumbly add a few drops[yes, drops] of milk.
Divide into small portions and mix in the food color and cocoa to each portion and refrigerate for half and hour so that it is easy to work with later.
Once the starter is ready, add all the other ingredients for the dough. 
Knead to a smooth but a little sticky dough.
Start with 2 1/4 cups of flour and then if it is too sticky add another 1/4 cup,spoon by spoon and not at one go. 
Keep in an oiled vessel,covered till it doubles in volumes approx 1 1/2 hours. 
Once the dough has doubled, take it out from the bowl and punch it down to remove the air.
Make golf sized balls.
Also take out the topping from the fridge and divide them into equal portions as the dough.
Roll out the cookie dough into a circle and lift it carefully off the board[see notes below] and place it on top of the dough..Press it gently and cover the sides to seal it.
Using a sharp knife score lines / patterns on the cookie topping but not too deep.
Place the balls on a greased / a tray lined with parchment sheet for 30 minutes. 
The cookie topping will crack/ break in some places. But don’t worry. The conchas will still look pretty.
Bake in a pre heated oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes or till the top hardens a bit and the dough part turns a little brown.
Cool on a wire rack and serve.
While rolling out the cookie dough topping, dust the work surface with flour and then roll out. 
Use a spatula to remove the rolled out dough .Some of mine cracked when I tried to peel it off the surface.But a quick motion with a spatula did the job! 
In the final stage, keep the dough balls covered while the rest are being covered with the cookie dough.Else the dough will become dry. 
Don’t use too much flour in the beginning to knead the dough.Too much flour will not give the right texture to the buns. 

Mexican Conchas / Sweet Bread for Eggless Baker's Group

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