Conchas are Mexican shell-shaped pastries that are sold in Mexican bakeries (panaderias) all throughout Texas and in many supermarkets as well. The lightly sweet bread has a sugar-shell pattern on top. “Conchas” have been cited in print in Texas newspapers since at least the early 1930s.
“Pan de huevo” (Mexican egg bread) is another, earlier name for the “concha.”
Rico Pan De Dulce
Conchas (Mexican Sweet Bread)
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/8 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Mix in the milk, 3/8 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter, salt, egg and half of the flour. Gradually mix in the remaining flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter to knead as soon as it pulls together enough.
2. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a large greased bowl, and turn the dough to coat. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Make the topping while the dough rises. In a medium bowl, beat 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour until the mixture is the consistency of thick paste. Divide into two parts, and place one part in a separate bowl. Mix cinnamon into one half, and vanilla into the other half.
4. When the dough is done rising, cut into 12 even-sized pieces. Shape into balls, and place on a greased cookie sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart. Divide each bowl of topping into 6 balls, and pat flat. Place circles of topping on top of the dough balls patting down lightly. Use a knife to cut grooves in the topping like a clam shell. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
25 January 1938, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, “Mexico’s Bread Has Personality; How About a Prussian for Tea?” by Betty Luther, pg. 9, cols. 6-8:
“Conchas,” or sometimes “Conchitas,” little Conchas, are named for all the little girls who were named after the Virgin Mary. They are shaped like half an orange with a little nub on top and sugar coating on the sides.
9 April 1970, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 14A, col. 3 ad:
SOMETHING NEW AT G&G BAKERY
ECHO POR JOSE HUERTA
PAN DE HUEVO MEXICANO
NOVIAS - POLCAS - CONCHAS
REVENTONES - ARMADILLOS
CAMPECHANAS - MANITAS
EMPANADAS - PASTEL DE POLVO
CAFE CAKE MEXICANO
SEMITAS DE CANELA
19 May 1971, Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, AZ), pg. 2, col. 7 ad:
NOW FEATURING…MEXICAN PASTRIES
. PAN DE HUEVO
18 June 1972, San Antonio (TX) Express and News, “Mexican-Style Food Reflects S.A. Heritage” by Jane Terry, pg. 2H, col. 3:
Sweets range from the thin, crisp bunuelos sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon (and kept fresh by the addition of a drop of green tomato skin!), to fruits such as pineapple, to the delightful pan dulce (sweet breads) made from many different kinds of dough dictated by the shape of the pastry.
It’s fun to pick out varieties such as El Caracol, the snail, snail shape filled with jelly; La Pina, the pineapple, yellow-colored sugar paste with octagonal design; La Concha, the shell, egg bread with fan-shape design; Las Perlas, the pearls, topped with shiny loose sugar paste; Los Nudos, the knots, filled with a buttery paste and tied in knots; Los Cuernos, the horns, cinnamon flavor, sugar covered; Chilindrinas, the bright ones, round bread covered with shining sugar, and Semita de Anis, anise seed bun.
7 July 1977, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Pan Dulce: S.A. Has the Best” by Ed Castillo, pg. 3B, col. 3:
Others: “Florecita” (little flower); “piedra” (rock); “cuerno” (horn); “caracol” (snail); “concha” (shell); “perla” (pearl); “chilindrinas” (the bright ones), and “semita de anis” (anise bun). There are many others.
4 January 1995, New York (NY) Times, pg. C2:
...Panaderia Don Paco Lopez, a Mexican bakery at 4703 Fourth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
The bakery also sells other festive and regional mexican breads and pastries like cinnamon-scented conchas de canela with a shell pattern in sugar; simple lightly sweetened round polkas; glossy cinnamon buns called roles; pasteles de arroz, or flaky pastries filled with creamy rice, and tender buttery mochos, or long furrowed rolls. These are all $1 each.
Google Groups: alt.creative-cook
Newsgroups: alt.creative-cook, Julie, Adee,
Subject: Re: Mexican conchas(?)
Title: CONCHAS (COILED SWEET ROLLS)
Categories: Breads, Mexican
Yield: 12 servings
3 1/2 c Flour (More If Necessary)
1/4 c Sugar
1 ts Salt
1 pk Dry Yeast
Butter Or Margarine Softened
2/3 c Very Warm Water
2 Eggs, Room Temperature
1/2 c Honey
3/4 c Chopped Almonds
Mix 3/4 cup flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast in large bowl. Add softened butter. Gradually add water and beat 2 minutes on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour.
Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled.
Punch dough down. Divide in halves. On lightly floured board, roll half of dough to 15- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Fold in half. Roll out again to 15- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread with 2 tablespoons more butter. Fold in half and roll out to 18- x 6-inch rectangle. Cut dough lengthwise into 6 (1-inch) strips. Fold each strip in half lengthwise so that it is 1/2-inch wide. Gently roll to round and lengthen each strip to rope 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Hold one end of each rope firmly and wind dough loosely around to form coil. Tuck end underneath. Place on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled. Heat honey until thin. Gently brush rolls with half of honey and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400øF 15 minutes or until browned. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks. Drizzle while hot with remaining honey.
From: The Los Angeles Times.
Google Groups: alt.food.mexican-cooking
Subject: Re: Looking for Basic Pan Dulce Recipe
Hmm… filled with pumpkin? Maybe she meant empanadas? Anyhow, there is no such thing as “basic pan dulce recipe”. There are dozens of different types of pan dulce in Mexico, some are available all over the country (conchas, cuernos, orejas, cocoles, semitas, etc.) and some other are regional specialties. They range from being basically pastries (orejas) to pretty much cakes. The only common denominator I can think of is that they’re all yeast breads and they are all sweet. Other than that, every recipe is different. Maybe if your friend is more specific.
Houston (TX) Chronicle
5 April 2002, Houston (TX) Chronicle, “El Bolillo Panaderia offers sweet selection” by Dai Huynh, Dining Guide, pg. 14:
Conchas: Barely sweet breads decorated with a crumbly flour-and-sugar shell pattern.
Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 22:28:47 GMT
Local: Mon, Nov 4 2002 5:28 pm
Subject: Re: Mexican bakery?
Actually, I don’t think you’ll find tortillas there at all. They’re usually not found in the bakeries we go to in Mexico anyway. More likely you’ll find sweet empenadas (pastry dough, usually with fruit, sometimes with pumpkin), the amazing pastel des tres leches, bread pudding cakes, galetas, conchas (sweet egg bread, usually chocolate or colored, white yellow or pink), bolillo (like a french roll), polvorones (cookies) and pan dulce (sweet rolls).
15 November 2004, Crain’s Chicago Business, “Sweet time for bakeries” by Lisa Bertagnoli, pg. 53:
Holiday specialty: Conchas, a Mexican bread of brioche dough with vanilla, chocolate or strawberry icing (75 cents).
Cooking with Texas Highways
by Nola McKey
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Pg. 5 (Name That Pan Dulce!):
concha or mollete (mo-YEH-teh): A round, soft bread with a thick, sugary topping. The first name comes from the similarity of the bread’s shape to that of a conch shell. The word mollete means simply “rounded loaf.” If you’re traveling in Mexico, you ask for a concha; in Texas, you ask for a mollete. Either way, it’s the same bread.
Dallas (TX) Morning News
A user’s guide to pan dulce
It’s all good — but it doesn’t hurt to know your cuerno from your concha
February 11, 2005
By BARBARA RODRIGUEZ / Special Contributor
Conchas: The classic pan de huervo. Named for the “shell” design embossed in sugar atop these rounded buns. Conchas are dense, chewy favorites for tearing apart and dunking.
Austin (TX) Chronicle (June 3. 2005)
For instance, in a Mexican bakery one can find marranitos (little pigs), conchas (seashells), moños (bows), or bigotes (moustaches). Even traditional French pastries such as palmiers adopted a Mexican name: orejas (ears).
Insiders’ Guide to Austin
by Hilary Hylton and Cam Rossie
Guilford, CT; Globe Pequot
La Reyna Mexican Bakery
1816 South First Street
Be sure to take home a bag of Mexican pastries and cookies—the conchas, a sweet bread with a whirled shell design in sugar, are a favorite. But eat them the same day. Mexican pastries have no preservatives and little salt, so they do not stay fresh long.
13 July 2006, Houston (TX) Chronicle, “Sample the fare at Houston’s ethnic bakeries” by Mary Vuong, pg. 6:
ABOUT 10 years ago, Kirk Michaelis noticed something unexpected at his doughnut and kolache shop: The Mexican sweet breads were outselling the doughnuts.
That’s interesting, he thought, seeing potential for a new business. During their off time, his employees had been baking empanadas, conchas (shell-shaped breads) and the like. They also introduced new ingredients such as anise seed to the store’s pantry.
After Michaelis sold the shop, he and his father-in-law, Bud Harmon, traveled to Mexico to visit the bakeries. They returned to Houston and opened El Bolillo Panaderia near the produce market on Airline Drive in 1998, then another on the southeast side of town in 2001.
18 April 2007, Beaumont (TX)
, “PA Bakery offers Mexican delights” by Robert Lopez:
Apr. 18—Mary Gallegos peers at the pumpkin empanadas, pink conchas and other multicolored treats that line the shelves at Ana’s Mexican Bakery in Port Arthur.
May 05, 2007
Sweet Staff of Life: Mexico’s Pan Dulce
Tasty sugar-swirled conchas are ubiquitous throughout Mexico.
Pan dulce is just one variety, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of different sub-varieties. The great mosaic of Mexican bread making, inventiveness, and creativity is such that every variety of pan dulce has a name, usually associated with its appearance. That’s why you’ll see names of animals, objects, and even people gracing the breads on bakery shelves. Puerquitos (little pigs), moños o corbatas (bowties or neckties), ojo de buey (ox eye), canastas (baskets), conchas (seashells), cuernos (horns), chinos (Chinese), polvorones (shortbread), hojaldres (puff paste), empanadas (turnovers), and espejos (mirrors): all are names of specific and very different sweet breads. My current favorite name for a pan dulce is niño envuelto (it means wrapped-up baby and it looks for all the world like a slice of jellyroll).