Secret Recipe #1 –Real Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread)

In honor of my sister in law’s birthday today, Feliz Cumpleanos! 

My sister in law Reyna is such a wonderful women. Mother of 8, she is only 2 years older than me and we hit it off right from the beginning. She has taken time to show me how to make some recipes from their rancho in Guerrero that you will never find recipes or recetas for on the internet — until now.

I kinda feel like I’m pulling back the curtain a little, like I’m breaking some secret code because y’all just don’t realize how long and hard I’ve searched for some of these recipes that I’m going to share on here.

This winter I recently perfected making the pan dulce, or sweet bread .  It is also called conchas. Yes there are many recipes for conchas online and I guess that’s how the Mexican stores and others make them, but the ones that Mexican women make at home for their families are totally different. These are not rich people, rich in family, community and honor yes – in money no. So when you see Mexican recipes that call for a long list of different ingredients, more than likely its not a Real Mexican recipe. You will see here in my blog as time goes on, most of my recipes use only a few, very simple ingredients. What they can grow, what they can raise. That’s what makes real Mexican food so beautiful, the simplicity and complexity all rolled into one, just like the people that make it.

San Juan Tehuhuhatla (Tea-wa-wet-la) Rancho de Guerrero

Pan Dulce (Please keep it a secret and just wow your family and friends with it)

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Makes about 2 dozen, depending on how big you want your pan

1 1/2 bags of 2lb all purpose flour
I recommend using “Selecta” a Mexican flour that you can find sometimes in Walmart or any Mexican store.
4 -5 Tblsp yeast (use a regular spoon for this measuring)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
Aluminium foil

** Before I start the instructions let me explain that they don’t really use measurements or learn how to make things with measurements. A lot is by eyeing it and just learning how its suppose to feel and look throughout the process. I’ve done my best to convert it to measurements as I’ve made it on my own, but keep that in mind as you make it that you might need to use a little more of something than what I’ve said.**

Pour 1 2lb bag of flour in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar.

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In a measuring cup, add the 4-5 Tblsp of yeast. Fill it with super hot water (not boiling, just really hot) to the 2 cup mark or right below it. Mix and set aside for a sec.

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Mix the flour and sugar together
with your hands (oh, this whole recipe is done with your hands) Add the yeast and mix in (yes I know its hot)

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Once you get that mixed in, add around 1/4 cup of oil, maybe a little more. It should be coming together now in a dough consistency.

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Sprinkle some flour across your work surface. Flip out the dough and continue to knead it. You should feel the dough getting hot and see its consistency becoming more smooth. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes of kneading. You should be able to lightly press the dough and leave you hand print when its ready. Also the dough should feel light, not a heavy dough ball. It should feel light and airy.

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Cut the aluminum foil out in squares that fit a cookie sheet or your oven, at least 4 or 5 sheets. Spray them with cooking spray or just rub oil over them.

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Roll the dough into a log shape. Does not have to be perfect. Get a butter knife and begin cutting the log in pieces. If you want a little smaller size pan (bread), you’ll cut circles about 1/2 inch thick. Roll each piece into a ball and place on one of the foil sheets, flattening it a little.

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Make sure you space the balls out on the foil because they will be doubling in size.  Once you get them all on the foil, rub oil over the top of each one gently pressing them into a little bigger circles.

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What to put on top:
There is a slightly sweeter topping that is traditionally put on them.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Oil

You can add coloring or flavoring to this part once your familiar with how to make it.

In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and a little oil, maybe about a little less than 1/8 cup.  (Again with your hands) You want the consistancy around a sugar cookie dough, just a little more flexible and wetter. This part you can taste to make sure its sweet but not too sweet.

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Pinch little pieces off and flatten it out in a little circle and place it on each pan. (Sometimes its easier to flatten it a little and then place it on the pan and spread it out more to fit the top of the pan). Make a tic tac toe board, minus the x and o.

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You don’t have to put these on all of them, some you can just sprinkle sugar over or sugar and cinnamon or colored sprinkles.

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You can also make them in shapes. Sometimes I make braid sticks, braided wreaths or bigotes, which you’ve probably seen if you frequent Mexican pastries.

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Now you wait. Like 4 hours usually for the bread to rise. The temperature in the house  and outside makes a difference.  It needs to be warm in the house where these are. The colder the area is there is a danger that they won’t rise or it will take much longer for them to rise.

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They should look like the picture above, double in size.
OK its been 4 hours and they are ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put one sheet in at a time. Keep an eye on them. The delicious smell of sweet bead will have your whole house making their way to the kitchen. 

They will golden brown and your topping will be whiter than the bread. If you pick up a piece or two, the bottom should be a uniform golden brown. If they are still white, they are not done.

Once they are done pull them out and let them sit to cool. Try to keep sneaking hands away during this time. My husband is worse than the kids.

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Your done!  Give them as a gift or just for breakfast or a snack. My family loves them with coffee, milk and hot chocolate.  This batch made 30 pieces medium sized.

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Buenas noches! Amy

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A Day For Chocolate, Like NOW!

Today has already been so hectic and nothing calms a woman more like chocolate.  Except when your trying to change the way your eating and you forgot to get your Healthy Choice fudge swirl frozen yogurt at the store, then chocolate becomes a necessity!

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BUT, I have been good and will use my chocolate craving to give ya’ll the most decadent chocolate recipe that I have.  No really its called Kahlua Chocolate Decadence and it is to die for. A mix between a brownie and a cake and anything with a little liquor in it makes all your troubles go away.

Kahlua Chocolate Decadence

1/2 cup butter
8 ounces (8 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided

3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 & 1/4 cups finely ground pecans or walnuts (these can be omitted)
2Tblsp all purpose flour
5 Tblsp Kahlua, divided
1 tap vanilla
Sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small saucepan over medium heat or a microwave safe bowl on High, melt butter and 6 ounces of chocolate, stirring until blended.

Remove from heat; beat eggs and granulated sugar on high speed of electric mixture about 3 minutes or until light and lemon colored.

Stir together nuts and flour; gradually beat into egg mixture.  Stir 3 Tblsp of Kahlua and the vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture; gradually beat into egg mixture until well combined.

Pour batter into 9 inch spring form pan or pie plate.  Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until top is set.

Cool cake in pan.  Place cake on serving plate.  Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.  Melt the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate.  Stir together melted chocolate and remaining 2 Tblsp of Kahlua; drizzle over cake

Decorate with strawberries if desired.

I’m learning this blogging thing so let me know how I’m doing.  I’m new to Pint rest too and so I want to let y’all know about some recipes I’ve tried and gave my thumbs up on.  Last night, I made Spicy Honey Chicken and Crispy Quinoa Bake.  They were so awesome definite keepers in my recipe book. So if your at a loss for supper this is a great combo with a little Mexican flair.

Have a great weekend and I’ll get you drooling again soon.

Where to Start, humm how about with Dessert — Tres Leche Cake

There are so many recipes I want to share its hard to decide where to begin. Mexican cooking is a work of art but so simple, like finding out Picasso’s masterpieces only took him a few minutes to do. So many people that are not a part of the Hispanic community see Mexican food as hot and spicy and smothered in cheese. There are some versions of Mexican style food that are like that, but real Mexican food is actually much healthier and more mild.

Since I’m on the subject of healthy food, I’ve decided we should start with dessert. No better place than to start with the end and work to the beginning.
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One of my favorite desserts that I’m well known around town for is the Tres Leche Cake. I’m going to show you how to make it super easy and impress everyone. This cake has been approved my Mexican family and many other Mexican families that ask me to make it for their celebrations.

A tres leche cake is very plainly a three milk cake. Moist, juicy and super decedant — it will be the star of any event , even if its not suppose to be.

Make a classic white cake, you can make it from scratch or use a box mix. You can actually use whatever cake flavor you’d like, but for the sake of arguement I’m going to talk about the most traditional version. 

First, the cake pan. A tres leche cake has to sit in the fridge and still will have some liquid at the bottom when its served. So I use an aluminum pan that comes with a lid.  It keeps everything in place and protects the cake in the fridge and in transport.

Once you’ve baked the cake, let it sit and cool while you make the tres leche part.  With a whisk or electric mixer, mix together
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk,
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk,
1 cup of heavy whipping cream.
Beat together until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes.

Next, take a fork and poke holes up and down the cake. Leaving the cake in the pan. Pour the tres leche mixture over the cake slowly. I sometimes don’t end up using all of the mixture so my cake isn’t so soupy at the bottom when I go to serve it.  Cover it with the lid and refrigerate no less than 4 hours, overnight is better.

There are many ways you can decorate it. I like to balance the super sweetness of the cake with a less sweet icing. My quick, no make topping – Jello Temptations Dark Chocolate Mousse cups . Its just a chocolate mousse. So tasty, you won’t want to share.

If you’d like to make it yourself, here you go:
For a Chocolate Kahlua Mousse
1/2 cup milk
1 (2.8 ounce) package of chocolate mousse mix
1Tblsp of Kahlua liquor

Mix well and refridgerate at least 1 hour. Spread mixture over top of cake. Pipe mousse with a pastry bag around the edges.

Here is also my Homemade Whipped Cream recipe, in case you don’t like chocolate:

For me its still a work in progress, but my husband says it taste just like they made it on the ranch so that means its 5 stars.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tap vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Chill mixing bowl and mixers. Once chilled, mix the liquid ingredients in a bowl. Add the powdered sugar and whip until you have raised peaks form and hold their shape. ( Warning, this part does get a little messy)

I hope you and your family enjoys this cake. It has been a part of many parties and special moments in my family.

Additional info:  If you want to put the cake on a board to decorate like a traditional cake. Place the cake on the board, cut the cake in half. Set the top layer aside. Instead of pouring the tres leche mixture, use a paintbrush like you use for BBQ and liberally pain the bottom layer with the mixture. You can also add a filling at this time, traditionally an ambrosia style fruit filling. Place the top layer back on. Gently poke some holes and liberally brush the top layer and the sides. Place in the fridge and continue with the normal instructions.