Mexican Conchas - Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread)

  Conchas, also called pan dulce is one of the most popular Mexican pastries. This pastry contains a sugar shell pattern on top of tasty sweet bread.

Mexican Conchas-Pan Dulce

Conchas translates to shells in English, and they get their name from the beautiful sugar crust that tops them since it is cut to resemble the shape of a seashell. Although they are a little time-consuming to make it is well worth it in the end! If you have never had Mexican sweet bread, you are in for a treat.

Conchas are popular in Mexico for a light breakfast, served warm with a cup of coffee.
Pan Dulce-Mexican Conchas
History of Pan Dulce - Mexican Conchas

Pan dulce, literally meaning "sweet bread", is the general name for a variety of Hispanic pastries. Pan dulce was introduced by Spanish colonists, settlers, and immigrants and was also influenced by other Old World cultures, notably from France. They are inexpensive treats and are consumed daily as breakfast or late supper, known as merienda.

How to Make Mexican Conchas

  • In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Lightly stir in 1 tsp of sugar. Mix and set aside for 5-15 minutes or until foamy. 

  • Note: Make sure yeast hasn't expired in the packet or jar.

  • Yeast from start to foamy

  • When yeast is ready, mix in the evaporated milk, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, butter, egg, cinnamon, and 2 cups of flour. Stop mixing and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add in the remaining flour.

  • Turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, or use a dough hook 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. Note: I placed the bowl near a sunny window but if it's winter, place your dough on an oven rack (while off) and place a pan of hot water underneath the rack. The warm steam will wake up the yeast and help it along, especially if your kitchen is cold.

  • While the dough is rising, make the topping. 

  • In a bowl, beat 1 cup powdered sugar and 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. Divide into three parts, and place each part in separate bowls.

  • Add cocoa powder to one of the bowls, and mix until fully incorporated.

  • Add pink food coloring about 5-6 drops to one of the bowls, and mix until fully incorporated

  • Mexican Conchas

  • When the dough is done rising, cut it 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 your hand.

  • Make 4 balls each of pink, chocolate, and vanilla topping mixture.

  • Place each ball between wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the topping balls enough to cover the dough balls.

  • Mexican Conchas

  • 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, do not cut all the way through the topping.

  • Cover and let rise until doubled. About 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake for 20 minutes.

  • Mexican Conchas-Pan Dulce

    How Long Can You Store Pan Dulce - Mexican Conchas

  • Baked Pan Dulce will keep well in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them after baking for up to 3 months, and thaw them completely before serving. The thawed bread can be warmed up in an oven.

  • Want More Delicious Mexican Desserts?
    Tres Leches Capirotada


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