If you’ve ever strolled through the streets of Mexico or visited a Mexican bakery, you’ve likely encountered the enticing aroma and eye-catching display of conchas. These delightful pastries, with their characteristic shell-shaped topping, are a beloved treat in Mexican cuisine. Conchas are a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Mexico, offering a perfect balance of sweetness and texture.
Conchas, also known as pan de huevo, have a long history dating back to the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Their origin can be traced to the pan dulce (sweet bread) traditions brought by the Spanish, which blended with indigenous ingredients and flavors. Over time, conchas evolved into the iconic pastry we know and love today, becoming an integral part of Mexican culture and cuisine.
As a child, I looked forward to visiting the local panaderia with my Papa Grande. For me, the pan dulce of choice was often a sweet concha; a simple sugar topped delicate and fragrant sweet bread. I continued to visit that bakery well into my adulthood, taking my own children, until the bakery closed. I set out on a mission to develop the perfect concha recipe (receta de conchas), reminiscent of the authentic sweet conchas from my childhood. After many attempts, this is my version.
Making conchas from scratch is a labor of love that yields incredibly rewarding results. The sweet aroma, beautiful appearance, and delightful flavor make conchas a true indulgence. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the art of baking, and savor the joy of enjoying freshly baked conchas with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate or coffee. Whether shared with loved ones or savored as a personal treat, these iconic Mexican pastries are sure to bring a smile to your face and a taste of Mexico to your palate. Interested in trying some of our other pan dulce recipes, give our semita recipe a try. Enjoy!
Sweet Conchas (Receta de Conchas)
- 500 grams all-purpose flour
- 8 grams table salt
- 11 grams active dry yeast
- 275 ml. lukewarm whole milk
- 90 grams granulated sugar
- 80 grams unsalted butter cubed & at room temp. (soft but still cool)
- 2 large whole eggs (100 grams total)
- 30 grams vegetable shortening
- 120 grams all-purpose flour
- 120 grams powdered sugar
- 120 grams vegetable shortening
- 15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder optional (for chocolate topping)
Prepare the dough:
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, set with the dough hook, add eggs, milk, sugar and yeast, mix until sugar is dissolved, approximately 3 minutes. Reduce mixer to low speed and add in flour, 1 cup at a time until well incorporated. Increase speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl.
- Add salt and continue to knead for an additional 10 minutes. Add cubed butter and shortening, one pat at a time until well combined.
- Continue to knead for 8 minutes or until the dough can be stretched very thin without tearing.
- Lightly butter a large bowl and place dough, turning to grease all of the dough, cover and let rise in a draft free area for one hour or until double in volume.
- Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl (except optional ingredients), stir to combine and divide into two portions (if making half chocolate and half vanilla). In one bowl add vanilla and in the other bowl add cocoa powder. Knead until flavorings are well incorporated. Wrap in plastic and set aside until ready to use.
Shape the dough:
- Divide and shape dough into 16 balls (weighing approx. 70 grams). Place dough balls onto parchment lined baking trays, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Grease the palm of your hands with shortening and gently smooth a bit of fat onto each dough ball, slightly pressing down to create a domed shape.
Assemble & Bake:
- Working with each topping bowl one at a time, divide the topping into equal portions and shape into balls (you should have a total of 16 portions for the 16 conchas). Using a tortilla press with two sheets of plastic (or a ziploc bag cut open) dusted with flour, press each ball into a 3-4 inch disk (1/8th in thick). If you do not have a tortilla press, you can use the bottom of a pan or bowl for this step. Place on a large plate, separating layers with plastic wrap or parchment paper to keep them from sticking together. Repeat with remaining topping. Place a topping disk over each dough ball (it should cover most of the surface) and gently press down to stick the topping onto the dough, tucking any excess underneath. Using a floured knife or concha cutter, score each concha like a seashell. Make sure to flour in between cuts to prevent sticking. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350.
- Bake for 18 minutes (rotating halfway) or until the bottom is golden brown. Bread temperature should be 190+ degrees.