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Best Concha Bread Recipe – How To Make Concha Bread

PHOTO: LUCY SCHAEFFER PHOTOGRAPHY; FOOD STYLING: TAYLOR ANN SPENCER

Conchas (aka concha bread) are probably the most recognizable of all Mexican pan dulce. Sweet bread means sweet bread in Spanish—think of these little breads as the brioche of Mexico. While not quite a Mexican dessert, conchas have a delicious sugary topping, often flavored with vanilla, chocolate or cafe con leche. (This recipe includes a basic vanilla topping with an optional chocolate twist.) The flavor of the concha bread itself is only slightly sweet. If you’re looking for something more decadent from Mexico, try churros, flan, or tres leches cake.

The name shell comes from the Spanish word for seashell, which makes sense when you see the gorgeous striated pattern atop the rolls. The easiest way to get that signature seashell pattern is by using a conchas mold (pretty easy to find on the internet), but if you prefer, you can use a generously floured paring knife to create your own unique designs too. When using the mold, it may take a couple of tries to get the hang of it. Keep going!

Pro tip: If you have an instant read thermometer, use it when you proof the yeast. The right temperature will encourage those tiny organisms to become foamy and eventually cause the dough to rise.

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Yields:

12

Preparation Time:

0

hours

fifteen

mins

Total Time:

5

hours

0

mins

for the dough

1


(¼-oz.) packet (2¼ tsp.) active dry yeast

1/4 c.

plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar

4 to 4¼ c. all-purpose flour

4


large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2


cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature, plus more for bowl

For the topping

1 C.

confectioners’ sugar

3/4ch

vegetable shortening

2 tbsp.

unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

2 tsp.

pure vanilla extract

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Make the dough

  1. In a small pot, warm milk gently over medium heat until barely warm, about 1 minute. (It should feel warm to the touch but not hot, about 105°.) Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and stir in yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 4 cups flour, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and salt.
  3. Once milk mixture is foamy, add to flour mixture along with eggs. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir mixture together until a shaggy dough forms. Attach bowl to mixer and fit with dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed, adding more flour 1 tablespoon at a time if dough remains stuck to the bottom of the bowl, until smooth and elastic but pretty stiff, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. With the machine running, add butter one piece at a time, allowing it to become incorporated before adding another piece (dough might look like it breaks apart into smaller pieces before coming back together). Use a rubber spatula to scrape down any excess butter if it accumulates on the sides of the bowl. Once butter is incorporated, dough should be smooth and supple. (This could take up to 10 minutes more).
  5. Brush a medium bowl with softened butter (or vegetable oil). Transfer dough to a clean work surface and pat gently into a square-ish shape. Gather corners of dough toward center and press gently to help corners adhere to one another. Turn dough over and roll gently across the work surface in a circular shape to help tighten seal. Transfer to prepared bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set bowl in a draft-free place until dough is roughly doubled in size, about an hour.

Make the topping

  1. While dough rises, make topping: In bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, shortening, cocoa powder (if using), vanilla, and salt and beat on low speed to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and mixture looks like frosting, about 1 minute.

Assemble the shells

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn dough onto a clean work surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and place on baking sheets, 6 balls per sheet.
  2. Using damp hands, scoop about 2 heaping tablespoons of topping into your hands and pat into a roughly 3” disc. Drape disc over the dough. Use damp fingers to gently smooth topping onto roll, being sure to leave about ¼” of dough around bottom edge of topping. Repeat with remaining topping until all rolls are covered.
  3. Dip a 4” shells mold into flour, tapping off excess. Quickly and confidently, press mold over top of each roll, tilting it so it indents most of the surface, flouring before each application. Alternately, dip a sharp knife into flour and score the topping as you like.
  4. Let shells rise until the dough balls are about ⅓ bigger, about 1 hour.

Bake the shells

While shells rise, preheat oven to 350° with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake shells, rotating back to front and from top to bottom halfway through, until golden and risen, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Conchas are best the day they are baked but will keep, tightly covered at room temperature for about 3 days. If you like, reheat in the oven at 350° until warm.

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vanilla shell bread roll

PHOTO: LUCY SCHAEFFER PHOTOGRAPHY; FOOD STYLING: TAYLOR ANN SPENCER

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