Pan Dulce “Conchas”
Artisan Mexican Sweet Bread
Concha is the Spanish word for “seashell.” These small, round sweet breads are topped with crispy sugar striped with a design that makes them resemble shells.
Pan Dulce (“sweet bread”) is one of the treats in Mexico and other Latin American countries that is served in the morning with coffee or hot chocolate making it almost a necessity.
One of the first non-native foods that was introduced to Mexico by Spain was wheat, a Spanish religious necessity since is the only grain deemed acceptable by the Catholic Church for making communion wafers.
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. The Conquistadors taught the Indigenous people how to bake and as the Spanish and Meztizo population grew so did the popularity of bread.. This inspired the indigenous peoples to create different types of pan dulces such as besos, conchas, and cuernos amongst others.
The first bakeries in Mexico started in the 1520s and were not very popular. By the end of the 17th century there were hundreds of bakeries in Mexico and varieties were differentiated by social class, white breads, also know as pan floreado, were reserved for the nobility and rich. The lower class ate “Pambazo,” made with darker flour.
French influence on Mexican baking also started in the colonial period, leading one staple bread still found today, the bolillo (similar to a crust French roll). Now days Panaderias are very popular and all over the world. 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. As bakers migrate, they take their secret recipes and Panaderias become popular all over the world. From USA to Japan and as far as the last frontier “Alaska” where Chef Alex is bringing the exquisite flavors of fresh hand made sweet bread to one of the coldest places in the world. The bread is considered to be one of Mexico’s most inexpensive treats and is consumed daily as breakfast or late supper, known as merienda; it is estimated that there are between 500 and 2,000 types of breads currently produced in Mexico.
By: Chef Alex
- History of Pan Dulce
- La Monarca
- Texas, The Lone Star State: Besos (Mexican pastry “kisses”)