A classic Mexican Pan Dulce recipe for Conchas with a Vegan twist.
Walking down the streets of Mexico City, the aroma of freshly baked pan dulce with smelled the streets. It is one of those memorable smells. You know, one of those smells that just takes you back to a certain time and place.
I still miss Mexico, and I plan on traveling and visiting often. When I am missing the flavors and smells of Mexico, I love recreating my favorite foods that reminds me of my time spent in Mexico.
Typically at restaurants serving breakfast, a basket full of freshly made pan dulce will arrive at your table before you actually order. This is when I learned where my husband Hector got his love for all things bread. There are many different varieties and types of pan dulce.
Unfortunately, the majority aren't vegan. The sweet breads typically have eggs and dairy milk; some traditional recipes also call for lard-which definitely isn't vegan.
Today I am sharing one of Hector's favorite type of Pan Dulce: Conchas. Conchas get their name from the shape of the sugar topping, which resembles the shape of a shell.
Like with any yeast bread, they recipe is a little time consuming. Most of the time is inactive; just waiting for the bread to rise.
After the first rise, the bread is divided into 12 equal size portions and formed into rounds shapes. Then a second rising of about 30 minutes is needed. After this step, the sugar topping is placed on top.
When I have made Conchas in the past, I have had issues with the sugar topping. On one recipe trail the topping came right off while baking. After a few versions, this is the best version that I have made.
I have found that using vegan butter like Earth Balance just doesn't work in this sugar topping. I am not sure why it doesn't, but the sugar topping is just off when using vegan butter.
The best version of the topping came when I used vegetable shortening instead. Vegetable shortening really helps to create that perfect crumbly, sugar coating.
You are looking for a crumbling sugar topping after the Conchas have baked. The sugar topping crumbles right into your mouth. So, so good!!
Enjoy these Conchas anytime of day, but they are perfect for breakfast. Serve with a cup of coffee. You just might find yourself dipping your Concha into the coffee.
If you have never had Mexican Pan Dulce before, I highly recommend trying this recipe for Vegan Conchas. If you are a fan of sweet breads, you are going to love this recipe! Be sure to tag your photo at #thymeandlove on Instagram so we can see!
Vegan Conchas | Mexican Pan Dulce
A classic Mexican Pan Dulce recipe for Conchas with a Vegan twist. Perfect for serving for breakfast with a cup of coffee.
- ⅔ Cup Warm Water
- 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
- ½ Cup Soy Milk, lukewarm
- 2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- ⅓ Cup Vegan Butter like Earth Balance, room temperature
- ⅓ Cup Sugar
- 3 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
For the sugar topping:
- ⅓ Cup Sugar
- ¼ Cup Vegetable shortening
- ½ Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract, preferably Mexican Vanilla
- In a large mixing bow, combine the water and yeast. Let proof for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a measuring cup, pour in the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes as well.
- Once the yeast has proofed, add the soy milk mixture, Earth Balance, sugar, 2 Cups of the flour and salt. Carefully mix everything together. Gradually add in the remaining 1 ½ cups flour. Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, knead the dough with your hands until it comes together and is smooth elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place the bread in a large greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm location. I always look for the warmest location in the house and place the dough there. Let the bread rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
- After the dough has doubled in size, punch down the dough with your hands. Knead the dough for another minute or two. Divided the dough into 12 equal sized balls. Knead each ball for a minute or two. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Cover them with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sugar topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable shortening, flour, and vanilla. Mix with your hands until a thick dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Once the conchas have risen for the 30 minutes, take the sugar topping and divide into 12 equal balls. You should have just enough to cover each of the conchas.
- Take two sheet of plastic wrap, and one at a time place a ball of the sugar topping between the two plastic sheets and press down with your hands until it is large enough to cover the top of concha. Place on top of a concha and continue until all 12 are done.
- Take a sharp knife and cut slits into the sugar topping to create the shell look. Be careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Just lightly cut into the sugar topping. I usually do about 4-5 cuts.
- Cover and let rise for another 20 minutes.
- Place the conchas at least 2 inches on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Just incase they spread too much. I like to bake 6 conchas per baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned.
- Serve and enjoy!
Hey how would you make chocolate icing? Would you just replace the vanilla extract for cocoa powder and some water?
Hi! Yes, I would eliminate the vanilla and start with 1-2 tsp of cocoa powder. You shouldn't need to add any water to the mix! Hope this helps. 🙂
Hi! Baked the conchas today. I just tried one, they taste ok, but kind of salty and they have weird after taste. Can you help me???
Hi Lily. I am not sure why they would taste salty. The recipe only calls for 1 tsp of salt. I use sea salt in the recipe and I have made them quite a few times. Did you use the Earth Balance Sticks? Sometimes when I use them they have a salty weird taste. I am not sure why that is the case. I always by the Earth Balance Whipped Organic brand. I am sorry that they gave out salty for you, but those are the only reasons that I can think of that would cause a salty, weird after taste.
I used Earth Balance and had no problem. I omitted the salt all together. The topping, I used my hands to round it then pressed it. One thing I noticed, topping recipe needs to be doubled, not enough to go around. I also used food coloring to make mine pink, added a little more flour!
I don't know how to post pictures of my conchas, better than store bought, I am very HAPPY with this recipe! Made them with organic/gluten free flour. By the way only one topping crumbled!
I made these today and, though I was intimidated by all the steps in the recipe, they turned out so pretty, and they taste pretty good, too! Instead of plastic wrap I cut apart a quart-size storage bag and used that. It took a few broken tops to get the hang of peeling off the topping without it falling apart. Kneading the individual rolls was easiest to do in the palm of my hand. I found the warmest room in my apartment is the closet where the water heater is!
I was afraid to disturb all the rolls, because after I transferred half of them to another pan they were all wrinkly. So the remaining half I kept on the old parchment paper that I used when they were set to rise. Those burned slightly on the bottom, and the ones on the new parchment paper came out perfect.
I am happy to hear that you tried the conchas! I know they are a bit intimating by all the different steps, especially the first time making them! 🙂
I didn't use parchment and they came out great.
I got lost after step 9. What do you mean by "Take two sheet of plastic wrap, and one at a time place a ball of the sugar topping between the two plastic sheets and press down with your hands until it is large enough to cover the top of concha. Place on top of a concha and continue until all 12 are done."
I'm sorry for any confusion. For the sugar topping you need enough pieces to cover each concha. Take a ball of sugar topping and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using your hands, flatten the piece into a size that is large enough to cover the concha. Continue this same process until all of the conchas are covered with the sugar topping. Using the plastic wrap makes it easier to flatten. You can always flatten the sugar topping with your hands if you don't have any plastic wrap! Hope this helps!
I didn't do the plastic wrap and used Earth Balance to make topping. I used my hands to flatten then a mold to make the imprint. Next time I make them, I will double the recipe for the topping, there wasn't enough to go around!
definitely I'll cook this recipe. My question is if i could change Vegetable shortening for Coconut oil, i'm from Chile so is difficult find Vegetable shortening.
Yes, you could definitely use that instead!
What type of coconut oil do you recommend?
I have used a wide range of brands.Any should really work. I really like Spectrum and Trader Joe's. I like to use refined for less coconut flavor, but unrefined will work as well.
These are amazing.. this is the second time we are making them n it's late at night now and we have 20 min more to rise after we have made the balls .. can we refrigerate and finish tomorrow
I made these last night and they were awesome!! Thank you so much for the recipe! My sister is vegan and I love making food got her. I have been practicing alot of vegan baking and I love it:)<3 I am excited to find more recipes for this upcoming Veganuary, and this is definetly one I'd like to try again!:)<3
The dough was easy to make just requires alot of patience, the sugar topping did give me a little trouble but as long as you use plastic wrap or as someone else suggested and I did, two plastic bags it is way easier!
How long to they last for?
They should last for two-three days.
I just made these and O.....M.....G! They came out so tasty. Theyre fluffy. The bread is not too sweet but the icing is perfect. My icing came out a little bit crumbly, but i like ot this way. So delicious!
It has been probably 7 years since ive had a concha. Im so excited i found this recipe and could have them again. Im totally making this in the future again. Thanks for sharing this!
P.s. I used my tortilla press to press the icing. I used two pieces of parchment paper to press the icing in between. This was really helpful, I could handle and put the icing on to the conchas no problem.
I love that tip! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you so much for letting me know how they came out for you! I am so happy that you can have conchas again! 🙂
Hi Jeni! These are amazing, thank you for such a great recipe. I found your recipe on someones instagram page and decided to try them today. Everyone from 2 years to 41 love them, I will definitely be making them again.
Hi Brittney! I am so happy to hear that you like them! They are one of my favorites! 🙂
Hi can I substitute the Earts Balance butter for coconut oil?
Hi. Yes you can. I've made them a few times with earth balance!
Hi Jeni! Thanks for sharing the recipe. My son is vegan and giving up conchas was one of the foods he mused most. It took a while for me to find your recipe and a longer while to finally try it. I'm pleased to say that I have finally made them! My son is away in college. I can't wait for him to come home so that I can make them for him!
Can I replace the active dry yeast with the instant yeast ?
I have only tested the recipe with active dry yeast. I am not sure how instant yeast would do in the recipe since I only use active dry yeast.
Can I substitute sugar for maple syrup?
& what kind of flour is recommended?
P.S. great recipe, I plan on trying it soon!
I am not sure how maple syrup would work since it is a liquid. You just might have to add more flour but I'm not too sure since I haven't tried it with maple syrup. I use unbleached all purpose flour. I usually buy Trader Joes or King Arthur flour!
Thank you! 🙂
I just made them for the first time, they came out denser than I remember their non-vegan counterparts being. Did I do something wrong or is that how they are meant to be with this recipe? Thanks!
They shouldn't be on the very dense side. They might be a little denser than the traditional conchas, but not overall dense.
my conchas looked more puffy before they cooked. they came out flat after baking, looking like ugly cookies haha. what did i do wrong? i followed all the directions (except we accidentally forgot salt - do that 1 tso make that much of a difference?)
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE IT YELLOW AND PINK?
My husband says it tastes exactly like the ones he had growing up in Belize, and he said they smell like a belizean bakery. Total win! Going to give one to mother-in-law tomorrow and see what she thinks 🤗 Thanks so much!
I made them this morning and EVERYONE loves them! I'll be making them often. Thank you so much for the yummy and super easy recipe!
Love! Love! Love conchas!!! I’ve made these several times including for my dad whose a huuge pan dulce fan, he loooved them! Totally worth the time! Chocolate are my favorite so I almost exclusively make all chocolate topping. Used some food coloring before to make pink, yellow, white and chocolate.
That makes me so happy to hear!
Ive made these so many times! My family loves them. I am making some for everyone to have the morning of my wedding! Thank you so much!! I have also tried it with wheat flour and they are so good too!!
Just made these and they were AMAZING!!!! I added cinnamon to the sugar topping- yum! Will definitely make these again and again- they were perfection!
I made these and they were excellent! I have made a few different recipes for vegan conchas and these were really good. I like the idea of using shortening in place of vegan butter in the topping (and I had some shortening I was trying to use up, so that was perfect.) Thank for the recipe!
I baked these and absolutly loved them! 10/10 would bake again. They are perfect treat, but not too sweet.
P.S. I only added about half the amount of salt and plan to do so again so they aren't too salty.
I am so happy that you loved them!
How much you make the pink frosting