Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)

Background and History

Conchas, also known as “pan dulce,” are a beloved Mexican sweet bread. They have a rich history dating back to the Spanish colonization of Mexico when European baking techniques and ingredients merged with native traditions. The distinctive seashell-shaped topping gave them the name “concha,” which means “shell” in Spanish. Conchas are enjoyed across Mexico and beyond, known for their delightful sweetness and soft, fluffy texture.

Serves: 12 conchas

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Resting Time: 1 hour

Baking Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions

Activate Yeast: In a small bowl, combine the warm milk and yeast. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

Make the Dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, softened butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and the yeast mixture. Knead until a soft, smooth dough forms. This may take 10-15 minutes.

First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.

Prepare Topping: While the dough is rising, make the topping by combining the softened butter, powdered sugar, flour, and vanilla extract. Add food coloring if desired. Mix until a smooth paste forms.

Shape Conchas: Once the dough has risen, divide it into 12 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and flatten it slightly. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Add Topping: Divide the topping into 12 portions. Flatten each portion into a disk and place it on top of a dough ball. Use a knife or a concha cutter to make the characteristic shell pattern on top by lightly scoring the topping.

Second Rise: Cover the conchas with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let them rest for 15-20 minutes while preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C).

Bake: Bake the conchas in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

Cool and Enjoy: Let the conchas cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy them warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

  • Calories: 375
  • Carbohydrates: 54g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated Fat: 9g
  • Cholesterol: 73mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 19g
  • Sodium: 123mg

Notes

  • Conchas are best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.
  • Experiment with different food coloring for unique concha colors.
  • Traditionally, conchas are enjoyed with a hot cup of Mexican hot chocolate or coffee.

Allergy Warning

This conchas recipe contains wheat (from flour), dairy (butter, milk, and eggs), and may contain nuts if used as a topping. Adjust or omit ingredients as needed for allergies.

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