Conchas is Spanish for “seashells”. Conchas are one of the most popular type of sweet bread  (pan dulce) found in Mexican bakeries. They are light, fluffy and not too sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Rise or Proof time: 90 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes
Makes: 12 conchas

Ingredients for the Bread Dough:
1 cup warm water
1 envelope (2-1/2 teaspoons) yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water (to be added gradually)
3 cups flour plus 1/2 cup extra flour for kneading dough

1. In a metal or plastic bowl, combine the warm water & yeast; swirl around bowl to combine.

2. Cover yeast mixture with aluminum foil, set on a warm surface (wood or plastic); let sit for 5 minutes.

3. After 5 minutes, in a stand mixer fitted with a bowl or a regular mixing bowl with handheld mixer, combine the yeast mixture with the vegetable oil, sugar and salt.

4. Mix on medium speed until mixture is uniform.

5. Gradually add 2/3 cup warm water to yeast mixture until well-blended.

6. Add the flour, a little at a time, until a dough forms.

7. Transfer the dough onto a lightly-floured surface; knead until dough is uniform and elastic.

8. Place kneaded dough on a lightly-floured wooden board; cover with a bowl turned upside down. DO NOT PLACE DOUGH ON COLD STONE, MARBLE OR GRANITE SURFACES, AS IT WILL NOT RISE.

9. Let dough rise 1 hour (60 minutes).

10. After 1 hour, divide the risen dough into 12 balls.

11. On two 18 X 12-inch baking sheets lined with parchment paper,  place dough balls 3 inches apart (6 dough balls per baking sheet).

12. Place baking sheets with dough balls in a cold oven and let rise for 30 minutes (this will keep the dough away from any draft).

13. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings.

Ingredients for the Vanilla & Chocolate Toppings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 powdered sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4- inch thick squares
6 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a bowl or a regular 4 to 6-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar & baking powder.

2. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut into the butter squares until they are the size of peas.

3. Add the vanilla & mix with pastry cutter.

4. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms.

5. Divide the dough in two; place one-half of dough in a separate bowl.

For the vanilla topping:

1. Gather dough in hands & divide it into 6 equal pieces.

2. Shape the pieces into balls; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

For the chocolate topping: place the other half of dough into a mixing bowl.

1. Add cocoa powder and mix it into the dough until it is uniform.

2. Gather dough in hands & divide it into 6 equal pieces.

3. Shape the pieces into balls; set aside.

Rolling out the Vanilla & Chocolate Dough Toppings:
1. Lightly flatten each ball between two sheets of plastic wrap.

2. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough ball to a 5-inch circle & set aside.

3. Repeat rolling out dough with remaining dough balls; set aside.

Assembling Toppings on the Conchas & Baking:
1. Place the 12 rolled-out vanilla and chocolate topping dough over the conchas in baking sheets.

2. Using a paring knife, cut grooves into the dough to resemble a shell.

3. Bake the conches for 20 to 25 minutes or until dough is light golden brown.
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real