PATI'S MEXICAN TABLE

January 29, 2010 11:25 AM
Sweet Conchas!
POSTED IN: Recipes , Desserts
TAGS: bread , conchas , cover , Mexican , panaderia , pastry , rolls , sugar , sweet
Print This Page | Print Recipe | COMMENTS (52)

I can finish a normal sized Concha, 4 to 5" round, in exactly four bites. If it has been a long time since I had one or if I am very hungry, maybe three bites. Ok, I admit it, sometimes two bites. But never one. 

Conchas are named after the shape of their sugar topping, which resembles a seashell. Conchas do have a hardened crust, but it is sugary, thick, crispy and crumbles right into your mouth as you take a bite. Right after you brake through that crust, there is a fluffy, soft, sweet roll made with flour, butter, yeast and eggs.  With such a pleasing experience, no wonder it is one of Mexico's most favorite sweet rolls or pan dulce.

I have seen some in bakery shops around DC, but they just don't taste like the ones we love at home. So on our most recent trip to Valle de Bravo in Mexico, I ventured with my boys, and many of their cousins and aunts, into a panadería, or bread shop. They make such incredible conchas, it makes me wish I had a bigger mouth  to eat them each in a single bite.

This panadería, named Santa María, like most in Mexico, has 2 daily shifts for making fresh breads of all sorts. On the second shift of a Monday afternoon, Mrs Agustina López, who runs the bakery, saw my little battalion and announced that they give baking classes to little cooks.

As the kids got a very hands class from her son Félix, master baker there, I soaked up all their secret ingredients and techniques, which they were very happy to share. 

Conchas2b.JPG
First of all, they have a beautifully aged and seasoned giant mixer. The kids took turns throwing (yeah, throwing) the flour, salt, yeast, water...

Conchas3.JPG
They were attempting to also throw the eggs into the mixer. See? I had to put my camera down to convince them that really, those eggs needed to be cracked first, though it seemed more fun to throw them all in. Just like that.

After, the roaring giant mixer helped knead a soft, gooey, elastic and very moist batter.

Conchas5.JPGFélix showed them what that dough felt like. Then he left it to rise, and took it to another giant piece of equipment: a batter cutter. 

Juju seemed to not believe his luck with those beautiful pre-cut pieces of dough... All the possibilities!

DSC_0802b.JPG
After the kids shaped them into thick, flattened rounds, Félix demonstrated how to make the sugar cover.

Conchas4.JPGWhich was even more fun to make, because all you do is mix together flour, confectioners sugar and a heaven-full of butter with your hands until soft.

Conchas4B.JPGHalf that sugar cover is mixed with cocoa powder, because some people prefer their conchas chocolaty... Or some little cooks like to throw in something else to get even more messy...

Conchas6.JPGThe kids were concentrated on making that sugar cover just about right before layering it on the concha dough flattened balls... Félix's bakery assistant was so kind and patient with the kids.

ConchasB1.JPG
Now that is one charming looking oven. The moment I saw it, I imagined how just about anything baked in there has to taste so yummy...

Conchas9.JPG
With the bottom made out of aged earthenware tiles and brick walls...

Conchas10b.JPG
And one can just dream of how many conchas can fit in there.... 500, 1000, 2000... Each one to be eaten in just.... two....  big.... bites.

And some whole milk on the side.

Thumbnail image for intotheoven.JPG
A baking sheet full of fluffy clouds coming out from incredibly experienced hands...

Conchas11.JPGLayered on the racks to cool down, before buyers come to take them all away in the span of a half hour.

Bird1.JPG
You may be wondering what is a handsome looking rooster doing here on this post...


ConchasB6.JPGWell, it turns out that Mrs Agustina López's brother, breeds roosters for fighting, or gallos de pelea, for the traditional Palenques. So it is a one stop shop: to get your conchas and your rooster!


Conchas12.JPG
And here were our conchas, some of which we ate right away.

ConchasKids.JPGAnd the rest placed in the takeaway bags, ready to be eaten, shortly. After admiring those handsome roosters...

CONCHAS
Makes 16 to 18 conchas

INGREDIENTS
For the dough
14 oz or 2 3/4 generous cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz packet dry active yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
4 oz unsalted butter or vegetable shortening, at room temeprature
5 oz or 3/4 cup sugar

For the sugar topping
1/3 pound all purpose flour
1/3 pound confectioners' sugar
5 oz unsalted butter, or vegetable shortening, at room temperature, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, if you want to make half be chocolate flavored
Extra butter or vegetable shortening to assemble the conchas

TO PREPARE
Add the all purpose flour to the mixer, set with the dough hook, along with the eggs, egg yolk, and salt. Start the mixer over low speed. Meanwhile, add the active dry yeast to 1/2 cup lukewarm water and stir until creamy and well dissolved. Stir it into the flour mixture, and let it continue beating, now over medium speed, for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Incorporate the unsalted butter, keep on beating for 3 to 4 minutes more. Lastly, add the sugar and continue mixing for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the dough is gooey, sticky, elastic and very smooth.

With a spatula, push the dough into a mixing bowl greased with butter or vegetable shortening, cover it with a kitchen towel and place it in the warmest area of your kitchen, where there are no wind currents. Let the dough rise for at least 2 and up to 8 hours. It should have doubled in size.

For the sugar topping, place the flour and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Using your hands, incorporate the diced butter into the flour mixture. Mix and knead it until its smooth and homogeneous. If you want half the conchas to be chocolate flavored, separate half of the mixture in another bowl, and mix it very well with the cocoa powder. Cover the sugar toppings with plastic wrap so they won't dry out.

To assemble the conchas, grease thick baking sheets with butter or vegetable shortening and keep your hands greased. They will need to be greased for you to shape the dough. Using your hands, make about 2 inch balls with dough. Then, slightly press them flat, as in a thick disk, but not a tortilla. Leave about 2 inches in between each of the conchas so they will have room to expand.

Once your baking sheet is filled with the dough disks, cover them with the sugar coating. To do this, grab about a tablespoon of sugar coating, plain or chocolate. Make a round ball with your hands and then flatten it thin, like a tortilla. Place it on top of the dough disk and slightly press down. It should cover most of the surface.

If you have a concha mold, press it on the sugar topping. If you don't have one, cut through the sugar topping making round lines or any decoration that reminds you of a shell.

Leave the prepared conchas in a warm area of your kitchen, uncovered, and let them rise again, for about 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the conchas in the oven for about 20 to 24 minutes, until the conchas are slightly browned around the edges and look fluffed up.


Comments

This is by far my favorite post in your blog. It's fantastic -- everything, the pictures, the story, the way you organized it. I loved it. Now, when can I have a freshly made concha with my coffee for a lazy breakfast at home?

Un Admirador | January 29, 2010 12:03 PM

Hey! I know you! You will have them tomorrow for breakfast Dany, here at home.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Un Admirador | January 29, 2010 12:37 PM

My husband loves these! I am exited to try your recipe out. I am sure that they will taste even better homemade (maybe not as pretty though). You are the best and I am so happy that I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago. Thanks again!

Challey | January 29, 2010 2:22 PM

Hi,
So glad! My husband loves them too. And I agree... homemade aren't always as pretty as the ones made in bakery shops or panaderias, where they make one batch after another. But, they are just as good!!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Challey | January 29, 2010 3:28 PM

Fantástica experiencia. Inolvidable para los niños, y exquisito para el paladar.
¡Muchas felicidades!

Perla | January 29, 2010 6:22 PM

Pati: esta increible,que ganas de ir a valle con uds.CUANDO ??
karen

karen | January 29, 2010 9:49 PM

Perla y Karen,
Can't wait for more Valle adventures, anytime!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Perla | January 30, 2010 10:42 AM

I enjoyed reading about baking conchas almost as much as the day we made them. We are happy to continue going places with you!!

claudia | January 30, 2010 4:33 PM

Pati,

Esta tan bien narrado y detallado el evento, que no solo me acuerdo de la experiencia tan increible que fue para nosotros y los ninos, sino que me viene el olor de las conchas recien horneadas.
Te felicito.

Jaime

p.s. no sabes si tienen servicio de delivery a Toronto?

Jaime | January 31, 2010 12:18 PM

Gracias Jaime y Claudia!! I don't know about delivery to Toronto, but here is a recipe that will help you make some at home...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jaime | January 31, 2010 5:57 PM

Oooooh, can't wait to try these! I've made them once with some random recipe I found on the internet about 5 years ago and they turned out HORRIBLY. Can't wait to try again! In Japan, you can buy something called "melon pan" (literally "melon bread") in all the grocery stores, bakeries, and convenience stores that I think is the Japanese take on these. I was ADDICTED to them.

Fuji Mama | February 4, 2010 6:21 PM

Hello Fuji Mama!
Ha! Curious person that I am, now I really want to try those"melon panes"... They sound yummalicious...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Fuji Mama | February 4, 2010 9:53 PM

Came across your site by accident and am glad I did.
It brought back memories of my mom taking us to our local panaderia on Sundays when I was young and buying fresh, still warm pan dulce. Haven't had one in years. Now that I'm far from a panaderia, I'll have to try the recipe. Thanks for posting!

Olivia | February 10, 2010 8:33 AM

Hi Olivia,
So glad you found it and so glad you like it. Enjoy the conchas!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Olivia | February 10, 2010 3:42 PM

VERY GOOD!

Marisol | April 10, 2010 1:32 PM

Thank you!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Marisol | April 13, 2010 9:51 PM

How I miss my pan dulce back in L.A. - I am happy I found your website and will TRY to make these with my children because conchas are their favorites.

Rose | April 19, 2010 6:38 PM

I hope you enjoy them. Kids looooove making them!!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Rose | April 19, 2010 7:07 PM

Hey Pati, you stated "how just about anything baked in there has to taste so yummy" (about the oven) I'm in Italy right now and they use those type of old brick ovens to cook the pizza and let me tell you NOTHING like american pizza.

Letty | May 13, 2010 4:00 PM

I going to make me some conchas soon..... and Chocolate too.

Letty | May 13, 2010 4:01 PM

Pati, the flour in this recipe is in ounces. Do you measure it in measuring cups or do you weigh it out on a scale? Also, the same question for the piloncillo in "the piggies" recipe. I have really enjoyed your blog, beautiful pictures and recipes! Thank you.

Kimberly | June 23, 2010 1:37 AM

Hi Kimberly,
So glad you have enjoyed it! In all of them I weigh it on a scale...
No need to thank, my pleasure!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Kimberly | June 23, 2010 2:44 PM

I was wondering, how much yeast would it be in teaspoons?
I've tried the recepi and it is fabulus. But after that I forgot how much yeast I put in teaspoons.

Erika Torres | November 7, 2010 4:15 PM

I am so glad to find this recipe. I made conchas a few times but the Allrecipe.com recipe was too dense, then another time I forgot to add sugar, then a third recipe I tried called for 4 eggs to 4 cups of flour, they were too eggy. I am going to try your recipe you actually went to a panaderia which make me think it has to be the real thing! THanks. They closed the panaderia that made the best conchas around here. You can get the supermarket bakery ones but they don't compare in taste to the panaderia ones. Thank you!! Can you get the empanadas de calabaza recipe?

D Rios | November 9, 2010 9:33 AM

Hi there. Yes! Absolutely, I love those empanadas too...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from D Rios | November 9, 2010 5:28 PM

Hi, I'm so glad a stumbled across your show on TV this morning, I only got to see a very small segment but I will be tuning in from now on. I looked you up and can't wait to try some of your recipes. Do you now how to make chorreadas and gorditas de trillo I had them both in Michoacan and they are delicious, hope you can help out.

Best of luck with your show.

Mercedes | April 23, 2011 6:54 PM

hello,

i was interested in making your recipe, but i am not sure what you mean by 1/3 pound all purpose flour? Does that convert in cups, or something else? im lost here. sorry. newbie when it comes to baking.

Ivonne | May 11, 2011 7:34 AM

Hi Ivonne, 1/3 pound all purpose flour is roughly 1 1/4 cups... Enjoy!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Ivonne | May 11, 2011 9:45 AM

Hola Mercedes,
Yes! Please do try the recipes, and let me know what you think. I love gorditas de trillo! I will try to put a recipe up on the website for you soon! Thanks!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Mercedes | May 13, 2011 11:17 AM

Hello,

I just tried this recipe today and the recipe does not really work as written. I am an avid bread maker and have made breads and doughs - and pastries from all over the globe.

Here are the problems with the recipe as written:

First, the dough was very very sticky - barely a dough; more a thick batter.

After the first rise, I had to add flour and knead it a bit to get a dough that could be handled.

In your recipe, it says just use buttered hands but it doesn't work without more flour.

Also in your photos, the dough pieces are clearly on a floured board - this is not in your recipe, but is essential to shape the dough.

Once I added some flour, kneaded it and then shaped it on lightly floured board - the recipe was fine.

The topping was great - no changes needed.

Thanks,

P

Patrick | May 14, 2011 3:03 PM

Hola Pati
Trate de usar el servicio de "Contacto" para comunicarme pero la conexion falla. La receta del Pan Melon de Japon, que por cierto no lleva melon y si se parece mucho a las Conchas, la puedes encontrar en el blog de Hilmar, una venezolana que vive en Taiwan y le fascina la panaderia y reposteria y hace unos panes como para morirse de la felicidad, Su blog se llama "Mis Recetas Favoritas" y tambien tiene, como el tuyo, unas fotografias estupendas.
Es un verdadero placer encontrar blogs tan bien hechos, con instrucciones precisas y fotografias tentadoras a mas no poder. Lo mejor para ustedes.

Otra Mexicana...

Norma | July 30, 2011 4:54 PM

Hola Pati,

its me again, i wanted to ask you if the 1/3 pound for all purpose flour was 1 1/4 cup the same for confectioners sugar? I really want to get this recipe right, conchas are soo delicious not to mention alot of memories with my family. Thanks.

Ivonne

Ivonne replied to comment from Pati Jinich | August 16, 2011 6:39 AM

Hola Pati,

it is me again. hehe. i left a comment about the conversion of 1/3 pound of flour to cups. I actually have the same question.lol almost. the conversion you gave me in cups, is that the same aswell for the confictioners sugars? I really want to make this right. espically for my family. thanks for all the help and tasty recipes.

Ivonne

ivonne | August 17, 2011 11:51 AM

hola pati

okay, so i did the first part of the recipe and the dough did not double in size. did i do something wrong??? i dont understand. please help.

ivonne

ivonne | August 18, 2011 3:44 PM

Hi Ivonne! Did you give the dough enough time to rise in a warm area of the kitchen?? Sorry you are having trouble with it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from ivonne | August 18, 2011 8:44 PM

Hi Ivonne! Did you give the dough enough time to rise in a warm area of the kitchen?? Sorry you are having trouble with it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from ivonne | August 18, 2011 8:59 PM

Hi Pati,

I left it in the warmest part of my kitchen next to a window where a lot of sunlight comes in. it was in a glass mixing bowl, and i let it stay there for 6 hours. im so lost! hmm.

ivonne replied to comment from Pati Jinich | August 21, 2011 11:53 AM

Please convert the 14 oz. of flour to cups. I am having a problem with it. I measured it instead of weighing the flour and it was so sticky so I am sure I did not do it right. I do not have a scale to weigh it. Also for the 5 oz. of sugar. Thank You

Ruby | September 7, 2011 3:48 PM

I sent message on Sept.7,2011 asking about converting the flour into cups and also the sugar 5oz. into cup. I would sure appreciate this as I want to make them right. Thank you.

Ruby | September 10, 2011 2:20 PM

Hi Ruby! The measurement conversions are 2 3/4 generous cups of flour and 3/4 cup of sugar. Thank you for pointing that out for me. I hope you enjoy! :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Ruby | September 12, 2011 3:09 PM

I am a huge lover of conchas! I just moved to DC from Los Angeles and can't seem to find a panaderia anywhere in the city to compare. Do you have a recommendation for a panaderia by any chance?

Vania | December 16, 2011 4:05 PM

Yes, Vania I have a place! It is called Flor de Puebla and here is a link to their website http://www.laflordepueblabakerymd.com/ordereze/1000/Page.aspx. :)

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Vania | December 20, 2011 11:48 AM

Hola Pati,
Encontre tu pagina por casualidad y me encanta. Esta seria la segunda vez que intento hacer conchas, la primera fue un desastre, la segunda, con tu receta, un exito. Deliciosas! Mi pregunta seria si en alguna parte del proceso podria congelar la masa (y por cuanto tiempo) y dejarla lista para tener conchas recien horneadas en el momento que el antojo nos ataque y su proceso despues de descongelado? O si no es posible congelarla y cuanto tiempo la puedo mantener en refrigeracion? Somos una familia pequeña y mas de diez piezas son muchas para nosotros. Te agradezco tu ayuda y por supuesto por la receta!
Mama de dos viviendo en Chicago

Rocio | December 28, 2011 9:08 PM

Hola Rocio,
Puedes refrigerar la masa por varios dias, tapadita una vez que esta bien amasada y hasta en bolitas. Despues la sacas y la vuelves dejar que se esponje antes de meterla al horno. Asi puedes hacer varias tadas e irla metiendo al horno! A mis hijos tambien les encantan las conchas...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Rocio | January 5, 2012 10:59 PM

Hi Pati,

What delicious conchas! They came out soft, buttery and sooo fluffy!! I've always been very dissapointed with pan I've bought in panaderias, and just resigned myself that I will no longer experience the comforting taste of a warm concha, but now I can make them any time I wish! My whole family loved them. The addition of eggs and butter in the dough really gives them that nice buttery, fluffy texture, and using the confectioner's sugar in the topping makes it crumbly, and soft, just like the ones in Mexico.
One question though, why does the granulated sugar and the butter need to be added at the end of the mixing, when the dogh has already been formed? Can they be added with the flour, before forming the dough? Is there a piece of science I'm missing here with your method of mixing?

Thank you soo much for the recipe.
Silvia Merrill

Silvia | January 9, 2012 5:49 PM

Thank you so much Silvia! To answer your question, that's how I learned to make them at the Santa Maria bakery in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. I noticed it does make a difference with the dough.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Silvia | January 13, 2012 2:17 PM

are you suppose to add any water to the sugar topping im finding it to be very sticky once the butter melts

ebony | September 14, 2012 10:03 PM

Hi Pati,
I'm from Sinaloa and now living in Australia. I miss Conchas so much I jumped in joy when I found this recipe and your blog. Can I post this recipe on my blog, all credits to you?
Keep up the amazing job you're doing letting people know more about Mexican food.
Un abrazo

María Elena | October 13, 2012 11:04 PM

Hi Pati!

First all, I want to tell you that I am a huge fan of yours & I love watching you on PBS & reading your blog. I reference your site often for recipes.

Thank you so much for giving the community access to authentic recipes. I am Mexican-American born & raised in Southern California until age 24 when I left home for college, fell in love, & never turned back! I now happily live in Connecticut with my Puerto Rican husband & our 7 mo old baby girl. I love learning about Puerto Rican cuisine but I miss with all my heart & soul the Mexican food I grew up eating! Besides my family of course, food is the only real thing I miss about Southern California. So many wonderful memories of elotes rostadas from the 'man with the cart' & 'hole in wall' taquerias (always the best), my gramma's menudo on Sundays, my mom's albondigas, conchas from the local panaderia, etc, etc. Unfortunately I never really learned to cook growing up so I have had to teach myself a lot (& made a lot of not-so-tasty mistakes along the way!). Satisfying my cravings has been my biggest motivation to learn to cook authentic recipes. Finding good ingredients here is a challenge & there are some things you just can't substitute, you understand. Your recipes combined with my Diana Kennedy Art of Mexican Cooking Book have been my lifesavers!!! I can't thank you enough for bringing your passion for food into our home. It sounds silly but you have helped warm our home on many occasions. This recipe for conchas in particular took a lot of fear out of cooking/baking & gave me a little bit more confidence to keep trying out things that seem impossible-who thought I would ever make my own pan dulce???? Amazing!

Thank you again!

God bless,

Julie Acosta

Julie | October 16, 2012 3:22 PM

Hola Julie! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. For me, the best way of connecting kids born in America with their Mexican heritage is through food! Let me know if you have any special requests.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Julie | November 5, 2012 4:42 PM

Pati,I'm an Expatriated Texan living in Michigan. I love recreating my south Texan (San Antonio) culinary heritage for my northern friends. So these Conchas are on my list, but having a little trouble. Question? After my dough has risen it has a dry crust on the top, but once punctured it is more of a batter consistency on the inside. Does it need to proof longer or in a warmer place (mind you this is early Michigan winter)?

Jason | November 26, 2012 8:27 AM

Hola Jason, Not to worry!! It's supposed to be soft on the inside. Thank you for writing me. I hope you stay warm in Michigan.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Jason | November 29, 2012 2:36 PM