Mexican conchas are my absolute favorite pan dulce! The sweet, soft rolls are topped with a sweet topping that is scored with a shell pattern. Hence the name conchas! This Mexican sweet bread is actually pretty darn easy to make at home.
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In case you don’t know, I actually majored in Spanish (with a dual minor in Latin American Studies and Anthropology!) in college. Because of that, I got to study abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico for 6 glorious weeks! It was an amazing experience full of great food, great people, and so much personal growth.
I lived with a wonderful family and ate so much amazing food. And sometime during those 6 weeks, I was introduced to conchas. My life has never been the same. As soon as I got back to the states, I had to get my husband (then boyfriend) in on this. Lo and behold, he also became a huge fan of conchas.
While incredibly delicious and beautiful, conchas aren’t nearly as difficult to make as I expected. Basically, you’re going to make an enriched yeast dough and shape it into rolls. Then you make a sugar/ flour paste, score a pattern and place that on top of the buns. All you’ve got to do now is make them!
I chose to whip this bread up in my stand mixer, but you can absolutely do this by hand. Just use a wooden spoon to bring everything together, then knead until the dough is smooth and good to go. This recipe uses the straight dough method. You can read more about it in my homemade pretzels post.
You don’t want to add too much flour to the dough, or you’ll end up with hard, dense conchas. That’s why I used my stand mixer. Just like when we made the saffranskrans, you want to have a tacky dough, but not one that is so sticky it makes a mess on your hands.
After the First Rise
A lot of times when making bread, you’ll punch down the dough to remove the pent up gas. But with this recipe, you will be handling it enough that this step is not necessary. If you see any air bubbles in the dough as you portion and roll the buns, feel free to let the gas out.
I cannot stress this next part enough. Use an electric scale to portion out the dough. It will save you so much trouble and produce better conchas. Divide the dough into 12 portions and place them under a kitchen towel or cling wrap while you work. Then take each lump and roll it into a nice, tight ball. If your rolls are lopsided or loose, they will bake up funny. (But still tasty!)
For these conchas, I made vanilla and chocolate sugar paste toppings. Sometimes you’ll see conchas with brightly colored tops. Feel free to add gel color to the vanilla topping and create fun, vibrant conchas. I’m beating myself up right now. These would be amazing with some freeze dried fruit powder stirred in!
Beat the ingredients together, it’ll take a few minutes to go from powdery to fluffy. Then use your electric scale to divide this paste in two. Beat the chocolate into one half and vanilla into the second half. The vanilla topping was way too sticky, so I added 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour to thicken it up. You want the topping to have the texture of playdough.
Grab that electric scale again. You’re going to divide both flavors into 6 equal balls of paste. Working with one ball at a time, place it between some wax or parchment paper. Gently roll it out to a circle large enough to fit on top of the buns.
Peel it off of the paper, just so it will come off easy at the end. Score the paste with a shell pattern, trying not to go all the way through the topping. Gently peel the topping off of the paper and place it onto a bun. I did this by inverting the paper into my hand, then inverting the topping onto the bun. Watch me do it in my conchas video tutorial.
The great thing about this recipe is you don’t have to remember to pull out all of the ingredients in advance. You’ll be melting the butter and the warm milk will warm up the eggs. Granted, I still did take the eggs and butter out, but you won’t be in a pickle if you forget. As long as you take the butter for the topping out after you’ve prepared the dough, you’ll be fine.
I am soooo thrilled with how these conchas turned out! I based this recipe off of this one by Isabel Eats. Fresh out of the oven, the topping was a bit crunchy, but after sitting in my treat carrier overnight, it softened up to the right texture.
How About Matcha?!
I looove matcha and so do my guys, so we decided to try splitting the topping into three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and MATCHA! And to add a little color, I added some pink gel to the vanilla. It all came out beautifully! The matcha was actually Ben’s favorite.
Shaping the rolls and scoring the topping is a bit tricky to explain with words alone. So I made a video for you! Watch this video to see the whole process, from making the dough, to adding the topping. Seeing how it’s done can make a huge difference.
I really hope you get to try these easy, homemade conchas. They are so amazing because you can have them with breakfast, as a snack, or as a dessert. And I know you won’t judge me if I eat them multiple times a day. They’re so fluffy and delicious, I can’t help myself!!
Did you know I was inspired to make these conchas thanks to an amazing reader who responded to one of my posts on Facebook? If you’d like to see more from Bakes & Blunders and influence the recipes you see here, consider subscribing or just following B&B on Facebook. I love hearing from you!
4ozunsalted buttermelted and cooled slightly (1/2 cup)
1pktinstant yeast(2 1/4 tsp)
17ozall- purpose flour(3 1/2- 3 3/4 cups)
5ozall- purpose flour+extra (1 cup)
2.5 ozpowdered sugar(2/3 cup)
4ozunsalted buttersoftened (1/2 cup)
Scald the milk by heating in the microwave or on the stove top. Heat until bubbles just begin to form along the edge. Do not let the milk boil. Leave the milk to cool down to 100- 110°F, or until it is warm, but not hot to the touch.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk, melted butter, eggs, yeast, sugar, and flour. Add the salt to the side of the bowl, being careful to keep it away from the yeast.
Knead on low for 2- 3 minutes, or until the ingredients are more or less combined. then bump the speed to medium and knead for 6- 8 minutes.
Finish the dough by kneading it by hand on a lightly floured surface. You may need to work the dough for a minute or several minutes. Add flour sparingly as you don't want to end up with a dry roll. The dough is done when it is smooth and does not cling to your hand, though it will still be a bit sticky. You can also do a window pane test to check for gluten development.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Let the dough rise in a warm location until doubled in size, roughly 2 hours, give or take, depending on your weather conditions.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions with an electric scale. Keep the portions under a damp towel or cling wrap when you are not working with them.
Working one at a time, roll the dough into a smooth ball. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use two sheets with 6 rolls on each. Cover the rolls with cling wrap or a damp tea towel. Let them proof in a warm location for roughly 2 hours.
An hour into the dough proofing, begin making the topping. In a medium bowl, beat the flour, powdered sugar, butter, and baking powder until light and fluffy. For awhile, it will look dry and crumbly, but keep beating. It will eventually come together into a fluffy dough.
Using the electric scale, divide the dough in two. Place one half in a separate bowl. In one bowl, beat in the vanilla. The dough will become wet and sticky. Beat in a tablespoon of flour at a time until it has the texture of playdough. Set aside. Beat the other half of the dough with the cocoa powder until well combined. Set aside.
Working with one topping flavor at a time, divide the dough into 6 equal portions with an electric scale. Roll each portion into a ball and set aside under a piece of cling wrap. Now portion out the other topping flavor.
Working with one ball at a time, place the portion between a folded piece of parchment or wax paper. Flatten slightly with your hands and then roll it out to a circle that will cover the top of one of the rolls. Be careful not to make it too thin.
Peel off the paper, then flip the disc over and unstick the paper from the other side. Use a sharp pairing knife to score a shell pattern onto the topping. Try not to go all the way through the disc. Carefully place the disc on top of a roll. Repeat with the remaining 11 balls of topping.
About 30 minutes before the rolls are done proofing, begin heating the oven to 350°F.
When ready, bake the conchas for 18- 20 minutes. I baked mine one sheet at a time as they wouldn't both fit on the same rack.
Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
You can use active dry yeast as well. Just bloom the yeast in the warm milk first.
Make these by hand! Add the milk, butter, eggs, yeast, sugar, and half of the flour to a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir until the mixture looks like lumpy clay. Add the remaining flour and salt. Stir until the dough begins to clear the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead the dough by hand for roughly 8- 10 minutes, or until ready.
Want matcha conchas? Divide the topping into three flavors and cut the vanilla and cocoa powder down to a 1/2 tablespoon and use a 1/2 tablespoon of matcha powder.
Hi there! I’m Colleen, a novice baker with a passion for learning and improving my bakes… and blunders. On Bakes and Blunders, you can find all sorts of tasty recipes that range in difficulty, but most importantly, I’ll try to explain the reason behind important steps. If you know why a recipe works, you can tweak and adapt it to suit your unique tastes, and you’ll be able to reliably produce some very delicious treats. If you love baking and want to expand and grow your skills, or if you are a casual baker and just need some pointers, my blog is right up your alley! Join me on my baking journey and we’ll learn how to make more impressive recipes together.