Today we spent the day at the workshop of two bakers (and couple), Marc and Angela. They not only had a great space for us to work in but a packet full of recipes for us to choose from.
Cris and I made sweet tamales, filled with rice flour dough, pastry cream and peanuts and raisins.
We also made encocadas, which are the Mexican version of coconut macaroons.
One thing I really enjoyed making was tamarind candy, because tamarind is less commonly used in the US and I really like the tangy flavor. They had pulp that was already de-seeded, that only needed to be cooked down with water and then strained. The straining was the hardest part because the cooked pulp wouldn't pass through the sieve. After I finally got most of it through, it was mixed with sugar, chili powder, salt and lime juice.
That mixture was then cooked down further into a thick paste. That was cooled and shaped into balls, then rolled in sugar to coat.
The crowning success of the day, however, had to do with the dough we made. It was for conchas, the slightly sweet Mexican buns that have a shell-like pattern on top (hence the concha name).
Marc taught me the technique for getting the dough balls really tightly formed, and it had to do with pressing the ball down and moving my cupped hand in a circular motion, lightly releasing as the ball gained in tension/tightness. At first I had trouble doing it because I thought my hand was too small (the ball stayed flabby beneath my hand, as if it wasn't being pressed by a big enough hand), but I realized it was because I wasn't applying enough pressure. I had a grand old time figuring it out.
Because the recipe called for cinnamon and sugar, I automatically thought of cinnabuns, and so I reserved a part of the dough to make exactly that.
The shell pattern was applied using a different dough (a short dough, more like pie or tart dough) and a shell-pattern cutter.
Both things turned out well, although I enjoyed the cinnabuns so much more because it seemed like something I had invented - Mexican cinnabuns. They were topped with frosting (milk + powdered sugar) and some with goat's milk caramel that we had made. Delicious.