The Conchas, mexican seashell sweet bread

If you spend a bit of time studying mexican-style baking, you will notice very quickly that there is a huge variety of different and original types of bread from Mexico; whether you look at the regular breads or the sweet breads. These sweet breads often carry names that reflect what they look like; the name for the sweet bread explained here, the Conchas, comes after the special decoration that the outer sugar coating makes. The icing on these breads is sculpted with interesting designs reminiscent of shells or seashells; fresh out of the oven, the icing is slightly crispy and melts in the mouth…

The shell breads or conchas are a traditional mexican bakery recipe, and they go very well with a glass of milk or accompanied by a coffee for breakfast.

Conchas Mexican Bread

Recipe for the Conchas

* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or one package
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, softened
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup warm water
* 3 1/2 cups flour
* 4 eggs
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Shell Icing:
* 2/3 cup shortening, heated and softened
* 3/4 cup icing sugar
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup flour
* 3 tablespoons vanilla
* You can add food flavoring or artificial coloring to the icing


1) First, we dissolve the one tablespoon of sugar and the dry yeast in the warm water. Wait for about 10 minutes, until you see air bubbles form at the surface.

2) In a big bowl mix the shortening and the 2/3 cup sugar, gradually adding the eggs, the salt and finally add the yeast, already dissolved in water.

3) Pour half cup flour at a time, to the mixture and mix until smooth. Cover the dough and let stand 1 or 2 hours at room temperature.

4) While our dough is rising, we make the icing shell paste; mix the ingredients mentioned in the icing section together, mixing until you get a smooth dough, add more shortening if necessary; this icing dough should be somewhat pliable; leave as a ball for the time being. Proceed to steps 2 and 3 then come back to this last step of this operation: Later divide the dough into 8 equal parts, flatten each icing part, like tortillas; they will have to cover the buns almost completely. Cover with plastic wrap, let this dough rise at room temperature.

5) Divide the dough in four equal parts then divide each part in half for a final total of 8 smaller dough balls. Place the dough balls on a greased baking sheet, leaving enough space between each of them, then press on them to flatten them a bit, let them stand as is for another hour.

6) Cover each dough ball with a disc of icing paste that we did in step 4; with a knife make cuts on each bread in such a way that when the dough expands further in the oven, it will make seashell or checkerboard designs.

7) Bake in preheated oven, at 350 ˚F, for about 20 minutes or until you see the conchas are ready.

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