I found this recipe for Mexican Morning Buns (Pan Dulce) in my copy of The Bread Bible and was overjoyed! They sounded exactly like a treat I used to eat out west and had no idea how to go about making them.
The colder and darker it gets on the east coast, the more homesick for the west coast I get. When we moved out west we first lived in Vancouver. I would go for long walks in our neighbourhood and sometimes would stop by my favourite Asian bakery where, ironically, I discovered these sweet Mexican treasures. My husband found them boring but I thought they were fascinating, sweet treats with an odd sugary glaze on top.
Last week I was missing BC so much I just had to have flavours familiar to my life there. I had no idea what I was in for! Turns out time travel combined with spiritual geographic transportation is a lot more challenging than I had realized.
For this recipe you are going to need 5 large eggs at room temperature. I warmed mine up in some hot water.
Put 1 tbsp of yeast into 1/4 cup warm (not hot!) water with a pinch of sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit 10 minutes.
Mix together 2/3 cup warm milk, the eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt and 2 cups of flour. Remember how my husband put my mixer Rebel back together? This was the first time I used the mixer since she was fixed and I noticed I had a hard time locking the head into place. When I turned it on, her head moved a little as the paddle moved. Uh oh…
See how the yeast gets frothy? This is exactly what you want. Add it to the mixer.
Add six tbsp of softened butter to the batter. Mix on low speed for about 15 seconds.
Add two cups of flour, a half cup at a time on low speed “until a soft shaggy dough that clears the sides of the bowl forms.”
Uh… are you serious? This is still a batter, not a dough! I kept adding and adding flour to the mixer but it never cleared the sides. With a bowl scraper and floured hands I managed to bring the dough together and put in a greased bowl, flipping it to make sure it was coated. I let the dough rise at room temperature for an hour and a half.
Not only that, it was clear that something was wrong with Rebel. As the dough got tougher to work with the more her head bobbed up and down, painfully. I had to try and hold it down to avoid potentially causing the mixer more damage but my heart hurt every second.
With the help of lots of flour on a wooden board I got this extremely wet dough to stay together so I could cut into 16 equal portions. The portions seemed too big to me.
I began to work on the unusual sugar topping. I mixed together 1 cup of flour with 1 cup of powdered sugar. I added 1 tbsp of vanilla, a beaten egg and 1 beaten egg yolk. I added the 8 tbsp of softened butter. You are supposed to mix together to make a crumbly mixture. I thought I would do so with my hands…
Big mistake! This was way too moist and soft to be “crumbly”. I lost a ton of the topping down the sink while trying to get it off my hands. I added a little more powdered sugar to try and get it a little drier.
I used an ice cream scoop and greased hands to make the round sugar topping.
You work the dough into round balls and then flatten until they are around 3″ in diameter. Then you press the ball of sugar topping on top. You are supposed to add different flavours to the topping but the kind I had were not chocolate or cinnamon, they were plain so I left them that way. I also did not add a crisscross pattern into the topping, I wanted it to be like how I had it out west.
“Place all the rolls on the baking sheets.” Um… how far apart? Are they supposed to be right up against each other? How many per baking sheet? So frustrating. I gave them some space and hoped for the best.
Cover the buns which are on parchment-lined baking trays loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes. Remove plastic and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 15 to 18 minutes.
Transfer to cooling racks and serve at room temperature. These look so much like the ones I had out west! They were much larger though and more golden. How did they taste?
Very, very close but not quite right. They also dried out because they were so big and probably because they baked too far apart. Next time I will make them smaller, bake them closer together and for less time. But, they did remind me of home and that is what I want to accomplish. This made a ton so my deep freeze is full of these buns, ready to help treat my next bout of homesickness.
Speaking of sickness, my husband and I are taking Rebel in to the repair shop very soon. Sigh…
This recipe was very challenging. The writing was unclear and again with this cookbook I found my batter too wet in comparison to the descriptions which was very frustrating. As much as I appreciate there being instructions for making this with a mixer, by hand… This resulted in a difficult-to-follow recipe that was already text-heavy. These got very dry along the edges and I think they were supposed to be closer together to insulate the dough but thanks to a lack of instruction, I floundered a bit.
Despite the positive outcome of flavours, I give this recipe only three wooden spoons. Badly written recipes make life in the kitchen less fun.