The seashell has been an important symbol in Catholic iconography at least since the Middle Ages, when it was associated with St. James the Apostle. The pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain is the place most associated with both a saint and a symbol.
Without the knowledge of the venerable apostle and his followers, the shell has long been linked to another ancient religious icon in the distance of an ocean. It is said that the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, the serpent with the plums, is also associated with the conch, or conch, and the temple dedicated to him in Teotihuacán near Mexico City shows them prominently.
Mexican pastries, which appeared after the arrival of the Spaniards with their preference for wheat flour over corn, had no chance: the native bakers who had just drowned combined the best of both worlds in their amazing shapes and designs, and among the bakers. The most popular of these shapes was the conch. In modern-day San Antonio pandari, he is, without a doubt, the most common pan dolce everywhere, even if his mestizo symbolism has long been forgotten.
Sometimes called a molta or simply pan de huevo (egg bread), the shape is a simple dome circle of yeast dough with sugar, eggs, water or milk and lard or butter. Often flavored with anise seeds – and more rarely with cinnamon stick – the bread gets most of its sweetness and textured appeal from a polygonal coating of confectionery sugar, flour, vegetable shortening, and usually, vanilla.
Recently New York Times An article by Mexican cookbook author Patti Ginnic calls the concha “the backbone of Mexico’s culinary identity” and goes on to provide a ten-step recipe that takes an hour and a half of active time as well as a four to 24 hour ascent. Oh, and do not forget some baking skill and the suggestion that the home cook will purchase a “conch mold” to register the shell mold in the coating. No way. With more panders in San Antonio than Starbucks outlets, the obvious way to raise my conch consciousness was to take a walk around.
Fake bakery (803 W. Hildebrand Ave., beoysbakery.com), “Since 1961” according to the mark, first came to my attention years ago as the main supplier of the Day of the Dead breads. The shells of this place boast shell patterns with deep inscriptions in white, yellow and cocoa. As happens almost everywhere, the colors there are simply “para decoración” since vanilla is the only flavor. The exception is cocoa, which is a modest chocolate. The bread itself is tall, open, slightly sweet and has a light anise flavor. As happens almost everywhere, he needs extra to make it compelling.
B Folklore Bakery (Multiple locations, instagram.com/elfolklorbakerysa), The shells are at the flatter end of the scale and a bit dry, but the anise flavor is more pronounced than some. The glowing pink addition on one of the shells made me want it to have a real flavor, but no. Pink is just tastier somehow. The thickness of the hat reminded me that Foundation They are not there just for symbolism. They act like small break lines that prevent the top from shattering when you bite.
Cinnamon comes into play in Fiesta Bakery(Many locations) With a chaotic-looking conch topped with cinnamon sugar and another more classic shape with a cinnamon-flavored shell. In a burst of decorative excitement, there is a yellow version with a pink sugar filling in some of the valleys, while a version with a white shell boasts pink sugar highlights. The breads themselves are light and airy with a faint hint of anise.
Pleasanton Road’s outpost La Bakery is popular (Many locations) Was a friend’s longtime favorite of a friend’s father, and although this place offers “little conchitas,” he was the least promising at first glance. However, he has given on many fronts. The bread was open but with a good structure, a distinct taste of anise escaped and the generous addition also offered more vanilla. In short, surprisingly good.
Concha Fiesta Edition immediately caught the eye of a three-year-old boy who was visiting while checking the lead from Panifico Bake Shop (602 NW 24th St., panifico.com). Dressed as Mardi Gras and more, he won an award for outrageous enthusiasm for decoration. The open but strong texture of the bread served well with the addition of the fiesta – as well as the ribbed chocolate version. But perhaps the most intriguing item in the bag was the volcano, a conch variant consisting of a classic center with a diamond cross surrounded by a strip of pie-like pastry with an aniseed scent. A scattering of pink sugar indicated a hot caldera containing the opposing membrane.
From there, the survey moved a little further into the city. But it should come as no surprise that if you pay more than a dollar or something like that for each piece – or, in one case, much more – you get extra flavor and durability. The bakery (Multiple locations, lapanaderia.com), With its roots in Mexico City, has been around for several years. In its original location on Broadway, one has to turn a blind eye to temptations like the Croissant-Concha mash called Croncha if one sticks to a classic Concha journey. The high domes are covered with taut skins, vanilla or chocolate, which are minimally scratched to indicate the source of the bread. The crispiness of the thin shell contrasts wonderfully with the delicate face and flavors. Worth every share of $ 2.50.
Just south of Fort Sam Houston, the smaller one Alberia Bakery (1931 N. New Braunfels Ave., alebrijebakery.com) Exists for less than three months – in this location, anyway – but the husband and wife operation still exudes charm and developed professionalism. Despite the $ 4.50 price tag, Alebrije shells are the only ones sampled in this survey that I would make a conscious effort to return for. To begin with, the Easter egg colors of the toppings are incredibly bold. But in a reversal of the usual formula, the flavorful and appealing compressed bread can stand on its shell.
As hard as it was to avoid the three at once, they were still delicious after two days, and one was tolerated even later without having to be dipped in hot chocolate to revive it.
Whether you prefer your old-school-style or luxury-style shells, here’s a good piece of advice from a poster featured prominently in Alebrije: “Keep Calm and Concha.”
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