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Thursday, June 9, 2016


Conchas (shells) are one of the most famous Mexican pastries and widely recognized in the United States. It is also referred to as "pan de huevo"  Known for their shell-like shape and sugar shell pattern on the top, the Concha belongs to a larger family of pastries known as pan dulce (sweet bread) and is as popular and beloved in Spanish speaking countries and parts of the U.S. as the croissant is in France, Europe and across Western Civilization.

It is this blog’s guess that stats would show (if available) that the daily production of the Concha and the Croissant would be astounding and reveal very similar levels of world wide consumption.

The history of Concha’s and its many pan dulce cousins go back to post Columbian Spain’s introduction of wheat and other non-native grains to the Americas.  Colonial explorers brought with them guns, disease and new cuisine.

The creation of sweet bread was influenced by the French and Spaniards who were the ones that introduced baked goods such as crispy rolls, baguettes, and sweet pastries to Mexico. This inspired the locals to create different types of panes dulces such as besos, conchas, and cuernos amongst others.

One can never have enough Conchas
The creative contribution of French baked goods to Mexico's cuisine peaked in the early 19th century during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. Skilled Mexican bakers adopted French techniques to create new bread designs with colorful names.

Today, Mexican bakers are among the most inventive in the world; it is estimated that there are between 500 and 2,000 types of breads—mainly inexpensive treats--currently produced in Mexico.

Concha Recipe

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 1 egg

 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

In this blog’s neighborhood of North Park, Concha’s and other pan dulces may be purchased fresh at the newer Panchita’s kitchen, bakery and cafĂ© on 32nd street; Vons at 30th and Howard, Hilda’s Mexican bakery, 3713 University and the excellent Pancho Villa’s Farmers Market, 3245 El Cajon Blvd. just east of 1-805. 


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