recipe

Conchas: the phenomenal recipe for Mexican pan dulce

Total time: 45 min + resting time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 16 people
By Cookist
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If you've never had the pleasure of eating conchas, you've been missing out. Also known as pan dulce, This easy-to-make sweet Mexican bread has a wonderfully buttery, sweet flavor with a fluffy, soft inside, and deliciously sweet, slightly crunchy topping that can be white or colored.

Mexican word concha means shell in English, and if you take a quick look at this tasty bread, it's easy to see how they got their name. The rolls have a topping that's cut or scored to look like a seashell. Conchas make a fantastic light breakfast, especially with a cup of coffee or tea, or can be enjoyed as a snack.

What are Conchas?

Conchas (pronounced con-cha) are a type of pan dulce or Mexican sweet bread which is commonly sold in Mexican bakeries (called panaderías in Spanish).

They're a popular breakfast item that is served warm and enjoyed with tea, coffee, and especially Mexican-style hot chocolate. Conchas are also a delicious snack. Mexican sweet bread comes in many styles and flavors, however, the usual topping is white.

How to Make Conchas

While making conchas may seem like a labor of love, they're surprisingly easy to make. For the best results, give yourself plenty of time to make your Mexican pan dulce.

Making the Conchas

Start by mixing the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat in butter, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Lower the speed on your mixer, then add in the milk slowly. Keep beating the dough for 5 to 7 minutes or until it comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work area. Don't worry, it should be sticky at this point. Shape the dough into a ball.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, flipping it around so it gets coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and leave it in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. This can take 1 to 2 hours, or even a bit longer depending on the temperature in your home.

Making the Concha Topping

In the meantime, let's make the concha topping. Cream the shortening, then beat in the sugar. Slowly add in the flour and cinnamon bit by bit until it's incorporated.

If you want to make two kind of toppings, you have to divide the topping mixture into two bowls before adding the cinnamon. For a chocolate one, add the cocoa powder to one bowl and mix well. In the second bowl, add in the cinnamon, and mix well. Set aside. Anyway, you can also use one kind of topping or even add food coloring.

Assembling Conchas

Turn out the dough and let it rest for a few minutes. Slice it into 16 equal portions, and shape them into balls. Set them onto greased baking trays. Take a little shortening and grease the top of each ball of dough – this is essential for making sure the topping sticks to the conchas.

Make 16 balls out of the topping paste, then flatten each ball into a disc. Put a disc onto each dough ball, then press down so it sticks. Use a knife or a concha cutter to make the pattern in the topping. Leave the dough balls to rise until they almost double (but not completely double) in size. Bake your conchas for 20 minutes at 325F. Serve warm.

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Pan Dulce Toppings

You can add all sorts of flavors and colors to the topping of your conchas. White vanilla and brown chocolate are the most popular, but you can also make strawberry, coffee, cinnamon, orange, Oreo, or experiment with different flavors.

Simply add a little of your desired flavoring to the topping mixture (about 5 grams or 5 milliliters should do). Colorwise, pink, yellow, orange, and even blue food coloring can be added to the pan dulce topping.

How to Serve Conchas

Conchas are usually enjoyed at breakfast or as a snack. You can dip it in milk, hot chocolate, or coffee for an extra tasty bite. Some people also enjoy eating conchas with beans. However, you decide to eat your conchas, make sure they're warm! Warmed conchas taste the best.

Tips for Making the Best Mexican Sweet Bread

If your dough is sticking to the bowl too much, you can add a tablespoon at a time of extra flour – just be sure not to add too much! If you add too much, your conchas will be dry. Your dough should be quite sticky.

Don't over-knead your dough. This will make the conchas less soft and also make them prone to being dry.

You can make the dough up to a day or two in advance.

If you want softer conchas, use bread flour instead of AP flour.

You can add food coloring to the topping for eye-catching, festive conchas.

You'll need a concha cutter or knife to make the pattern in the topping.

How to Store Conchas

Keep your conchas in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Ingredients
for the conchas
All-purpose flour
500 g
Sugar
125 g
Instant yeast
7 1/2 g
Salt
3 g
Unsalted butter
100 g
Eggs
2
Vanilla Extract
5 ml
milk, warmed
120 ml
for the topping
Vegetable shortening
100 g (plus extra)
Powdered sugar
100 g
All-purpose flour
120 g
cocoa powder (optional)
5 g
Cinnamon
5 g
Vanilla
5 g

Instructions

Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.

Beat in butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Slowly add in the milk, and continue beating the dough for 5 to 7 minutes or until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out. Shape it into a ball.

Grease a bowl with oil or cooking spray. Place the dough into the bowl, flipping it once to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel or cling film.

Leave the dough in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.

As the dough is rising, cream the shortening. Beat in the sugar. Slowly add in the flour and cinnamon mix. If making two kind of toppings, divide the mixture into two bowls before adding the cinnamon. In one bowl, add the cocoa powder and mix well. Then in the second bowl, add in the cinnamon and mix well. Set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cut the dough into 16 equal portions, and shape them into balls.

Set them on the baking trays. Lightly grease the top of each dough ball with some vegetable shortening.

Flour your hands. Make 16 balls out of the topping paste, then flatten each ball into a disc.

Put a disc onto each dough ball.

Use a knife, a concha cutter, or arrange three different pastry cutters to make the pattern in the topping.

Make it for each dough piece. Preheat your oven to 325F. Leave the dough to rise until they almost double in size.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, let cool slightly.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Notes

Use room-temperature ingredients to make your conchas.

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