November 23, 2022

Cafecharlotte Southbeach

The View On Cooking

Conchas (Mexican Pan Dulce) – A Cozy Kitchen Conchas Recipe

Conchas are a Mexican bread, a sweet bread (Pan Dulce) that are served at panaderías. This concha bread is a soft, enriched dough that has a lovely buttery and sweet flavor.

Conchas/Pan Dulce are delicious when paired with hot chocolate

Let’s talk about Mexican conchas which are also known as pan dulce!

Sweet Bread literally translates to pan dulce in Spanish. While concha in English translates to seashell. Makes sense given that conchas look like seashells!

When I moved back to California after I graduated college, I realized I literally knew nothing about Mexican food. I, of course, had eaten a good amount of Mexican food when I lived in the OC as a little kid. But I don’t think I understood what I was eating. I also don’t think we ate a huge variety of Mexican food. And to be honest, my mom cooked most of the meals we ate. We weren’t a super “go-out-to-eat” type of family. That woman was on a budget!

Ingredients for Concha dough

When I finally moved back to Los Angeles, after college, I started to really understand and learn the different varieties of Mexican food and it was cool. I learned the differences between food from Baja, Mexico City, Colima, the Yucatan and Oaxaca. And my actual trips to Mexico have been even more educational.

One of my favorite places I went to in Mexico City was a panadería where they served the warmest, freshest conchas with the crispiest tops.

Concha dough being mixed up
Concha dough formed into balls for their second rise

The Anatomy of Conchas/Pan Dulce

If you’ve never had a concha/pan dulce, they consist of this: on the bottom there is a brioche-like dough that’s rolled into rounds. The top is a streusel-like shell that is mixed until it’s super smooth, and then patted into a thin round and draped over the dough. Next, a concha-shaped cutter is pressed into the top. Since I don’t own one, I used a knife to score it. The slats won’t be perfect but  once the concha/pan dulce is baked up, you won’t be able to notice. Then, the dough is baked after a quick rise.

The tops of the conchas are scored to give it that signature "seashell" look

The top is crunchy and crisp, the bottom half, fluffy and soft. They’re typically eaten at breakfast time with a mug of hot chocolate or coffee.

The Origins of Conchas and Pan Dulce

While conchas/pan dulce are for sure Mexican, their origins go back to Europe. Many panaderias were influenced by the French, who migrated there for who knows why, bringing their doughs and techniques to Mexico. Mexican chefs adapted these doughs and created many of the goods you see in panaderias today.

Conchas/Pan Dulce straight out of the oven
Conchas/Pan Dulce paired with hot chocolate
Conchas/Pan Dulce

I love learning about history in food. It’s truly fascinating, especially in Latin America. A few weeks ago, I bought a few books (they’re on their way to me), that will teach me a thing or two about our food history.

I’ll share more info when I learn it! In the mean time, let’s make some Mexican pan dulce/conchas!

And of course, pair it with a few cups of fancy hot chocolate! 

Conchas/Pan Dulce fresh out of the oven