Among all the Mexican sweet breads, Conchas are the most popular and well-known treats. Pan Dulce is a yummy and traditional Mexican dessert to be enjoyed at breakfast, with coffee, or any time of the day. See the VIDEO or follow the step-by-step pictures below.
Truth be told, I’m not much of a baker. I’m not a very patient person. I like easy recipes so I can get my food on the table and in my belly fast. When it comes to Mexican sweet bread and conchas, though, they’re worth the wait.
Add warm water to the yeast. Don’t use hot water to the yeast, or you will kill the beast. You need these critters alive! Dead is not good for bread. Mix slightly.
Then add evaporated milk, sugar, salt, an egg, and butter. The butter has to be either room temperature or melted. Cold gets old, and it won’t fold when mixing.
Add a little bit of the flour and mix. You can use a regular mixer, but anytime I can use my Kitchen Aid, I’ll dust it off and put it to work.
Add the cinnamon powder.. because a stick won’t do the trick.
Stop every so often and scrape the sides of the bowl. Take the opportunity to add more flour until there is none left to add. Be sure not to turn on the Kitchen Aid mixer or the hand mixer on high. Flour will go everywhere!
Turn over your dough on a floured surface. Roll up your sleeves. It’s time to knead. This dough is needy. It craves your attention. I find that you don’t need to knead a lot if you use a Kitchen Aid mixer. You can also do this in the machine itself, but you will constantly have to stop and move the dough back down as it likes to move up the sides of the bowl.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Turn it around so you can grease the bottom side too. Grease is the word that you’ve heard .. Here on Mama Maggie’s Kitchen.
Cover with plastic or a kitchen towel. If you don’t cover the dough, it will form a crust. It will take roughly 1 hour for the dough to rise. It will double in size. In this case, size does matter. 😉
In the meantime, work on the topping. I am only doing two types of toppings – chocolate and vanilla. For yellow conchas, add a few drops of yellow food coloring to the sugar topping. For pink conchas, add a few drops of red food coloring.
It all starts with butter. Add softened butter to the mixer. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You want to mix everything well, and the mixer paddle will not reach the sides.
Add powdered sugar to the mixer. Blend in the mixer until smooth. Ah sugar… NOT honey, honey!
After you add the flour, the topping mixture will look like wet sand. This is exactly what you want. By itself, this tastes really, really good.
Divide the sugar topping into two balls. Set one aside in a bowl, and the other in another bowl. If you are only making white conchas (or as some people know them “Conchas de Novia”), then skip this step.
To one of the topping balls, add the cocoa powder. Mix well. That’s a pretty ballsy move. lol.
You want the chocolate to be fully mixed in. Set the chocolate bowl aside until ready to use. If you are making the topping using food coloring, my advice is to use gloves. It tends to stain your hands.
Time to play ball! Return to the dough. Remove the plastic wrap, and place on a wooden surface. Cut a tennis-ball size piece of dough.
Roll out until smooth. You will end up with roughly 12 pieces. Make sure they are the same size or they will not cook evenly. Place each of the dough balls on a greased sheet pan. Separate them about 3 inches apart. They will expand when they are baking in the oven. Pat them down with the back of your hand to flatten them out slightly.
Take the sugar topping and roll out 6 chocolate balls and 6 vanilla balls. Place one of the balls between two pieces of wax papers.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the topping wide enough to cover the dough balls. Use your judgement here. Eyeball the size you need.
See how thick this is? Do not roll this out too thin or it will crumble before you are able to place it on the dough. Take the rolled out topping and gently place it on top of the dough balls.
I am using a serrated knife to create the pattern. If you use a knife, dip it in flour after each use. That way the knife will not stick to the topping. You can also buy a conchas cutter online. Same thing, dip the cutter in flour after each use. It will make things easier.
Cover the conchas and proof for an additional 45 minutes. I am not a fan of double proofing, but it has to be done. Then bake for 20 minutes. The smell of the oven… LOVE IT!
Pan Dulce, or Mexican Sweet Bread, can make strong men weep and children smile. Conchas is one of those childhood favorites. It’s a lot of work, but totally worth it. You can taste the love baked into every bite. Hope you enjoy!
Don’t Forget to Watch the Conchas Video
- For Dough:
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened or melted
- 1 egg
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- For Topping:
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (if using)
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water.
Mix in the evaporated milk, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, 1/3 cup butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour.
Stop mixing and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Gradually add in the remaining flour and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter.
Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth.
Place the dough in a greased bowl.
Turn the dough to coat the bottom.
Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
Let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. About 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the topping.
In a bowl, beat 2/3 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, making sure to mix everything.
Stir in the flour, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Mix until the mixture is the consistency of a thick paste. It will look like wet sand.
Divide into two parts, and place one part in a separate bowl.
If making chocolate conchas, add cocoa powder to one of the bowls, and mix until fully incorporated.
When the dough is done rising, cut into 12 pieces.
Make sure the dough pieces are the same size, or they will not bake evenly.
Shape the dough into balls.
Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Space the dough pieces out about 3 inches apart.
Gently press them down with the back of your hand.
Make 6 balls of the chocolate topping mixture and 6 balls of the white topping mixture.
Place each ball between wax paper.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the balls enough to cover the dough balls.
Place the rolled out topping on top of the dough balls.
Pat down lightly.
Use a knife to cut the grooves in the topping like a shell or criss cross.
Cover and let rise until doubled. About 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake for 20 minutes.
You can also purchase a conchas cutter online instead of using a knife to create the topping.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
For More Mexican Desserts:
20 Best Mexican Desserts
Tres Leches Cake, or Pastel de Tres Leches
Easy Mexican Dessert – Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Arroz con Leche
Carlota de Limón
Fresas con Crema
Pineapple Empanadas, or Empanadas de Piña
Capirotada, Mexican Bread Pudding
Arroz con Leche
Empanadas de Calabaza, Pumpkin Empanadas
Pan de Elote, or Mexican Sweet Corn Cake