Conchas are Everyone’s Favorite Treat
Some call them conchas, others call them pan de dulce or simply pan dulce, but anyone that grew up near a traditional panaderia cherishes the memories of the happiness a warm concha.
These lightly sweet rolls are popular throughout Mexico, usually purchased in the morning for breakfast, or reserved for a light evening snack with a cup of frothy hot chocolate. Dunking is a must.
The bread base of a concha is the same dough used for Pan de Muertos, Rosca de Reyes, and Pan de Huevo. In fact, all of these breads mentioned are variations of Pan de Huevo. The toppings are simply changed for variety.
Conchas Go Where Cupcakes Fear To Tread
What’s impressive about conchas is that the original baker that developed these classic treats figured out how to make a sweet frosting-like topping that does not melt. The average temperature of my South Texas home on the Mexican border is 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s no place for a cupcake. The fact that they don’t melt in the car is probably why we like them so much.
In his older years, my grandfather would send me to pick up his groceries in town, and he always requested conchas, and his favorites were the white ones. “Hey grandad,” I finally told him, “the topping is just colored, and it doesn’t have any flavoring. So why does it matter which ones I bring home?”
“I just like the white ones.” he would reply.
So that’s what I would bring him. Two white conchas in a paper bag, which would have obvious grease spots by the time I got back to the ranch. But their sweet frosting never melted.
Even Stale Conchas Are Delicious
Homemade conchas are extra amazing, but they do go stale pretty quickly, within 12 hours of making them. The remedy is to simply slice the concha and toast it under the broiler (not the toaster, which I learned when hubby tried. The topping caught fire and I lost my trusty appliance.)
And of course, dunking them in your coffee or hot chocolate is always a good call.
Conchas (Traditional Mexican Sweet Bread)
- Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 10 Conchas 1x
6 – 7 cups bread flour (750–875 gr)
3/4 cup sugar (150gr)
1 tsp. salt (6gr)
3 eggs (room temperature)
3 egg yolks (room temperature)
1/2 cup milk (120ml)
1/2 cup butter (114gr)
2 pkg yeast (16gr)
1 tsp. sugar (4g)
1/2 cup water 100°F-110°F (120ml/38°C-43°C)
6 tbsp. vegetable shortening, softened (77gr)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (60gr)
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup flour (94gr)
1 tablespoon powdered cocoa (4gr)
2–3 drops yellow food coloring
2–3 drops red food coloring
Place 5 cups of the flour (625gr) in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks.
Heat the milk and the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and allow the butter to melt. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool until the liquid reaches between 100°-110°F (38°-43°C) on a thermometer.
When the milk mixture is ready, prepare the yeast mixture in a separate bowl. Add warm tap water 100°F-110°F (38°C-43°C) to the bowl along with the yeast and stir in 1 tsp. of sugar (4g) Stir once or twice so that the yeast and sugar dissolve. Allow the yeast about 5 minutes to activate and proof.
Once the yeast is activated, slowly add portions of the eggs, the milk mixture, and the yeast mixture to the bowl of combined flour. Stir to incorporate. The dough will be sticky at first. Add more flour, 1 large spoonful at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. (NOTE: 10 minutes of kneading time begins when you start to stir the dough together.)
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour to the surface if the dough becomes sticky. Total kneading time is approximately 10 minutes. Continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands or to the counter surface. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise in a warm (about 85°F/29°F) draft free environment for 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Weigh the dough and divide into 10 equal pieces and form each into a round, domed patty (like a hamburger bun). Place the dough patties on a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
While the shaped conchas are rising, prepare the topping. In a small mixing bowl, combine the vegetable shortening, powdered sugar, egg yolks and flour. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon or fork to knead the ingredients together. When the dough is well combined, divide the dough into 4 portions, coloring one portion with the yellow food coloring, another portion with the red food coloring (pink is the desired color) and the remaining portion with the cocoa powder. Leave one portion white. (To divide evenly across 10 conchas, one of the 4 topping portions will have to be smaller for just 2 conchas.)
Heat the oven to 350°F (177°C)
Form the topping dough into equal sized balls. Using a rolling pin or a tortilla press lined with two sheets of plastic, flatten each of the balls into a thin circle that is just smaller than the diameter of the risen bread. Sprinkle extra flour on the rolling surface or in the tortilla press so that the dough does not stick. Place a flattened circle of topping on each of the completely risen breads. Mark each topping using a concha stamp.
Bake the conchas for 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges.
You can substitute all-purpose flour for this recipe, but the conchas will be more dense and less fluffy.
Machine stirring and kneading of this dough takes half the time of hand kneading. Stir the dough together in your mixer with the flat blade attached first, then switch to the kneading hook as the dough becomes more cohesive. From stirring though kneading time will be approximately 5 minutes, but keep an eye on the dough so that it does not over knead.