Joy the Baker

Pan Dulce

September 27, 2008

I was just thinking that this morning was one of those mornings where I feel like I’ve been struck by a train for no reason at all.

I was just thinking that this morning was one of those mornings that can only be healed with two things, sweet bread and milky, sugared coffee.

I seem to have a vague memory of a bottle of champagne last night. Although I certainly didn’t drink the whole bottle (I checked, it’s in the fridge), champagne is one of those buggers that sneaks up on you in the middle of the night, scrambles your brain around and then makes you demand sweets and coffee just a little harder than usual the next morning.

Today I have a funeral to go to and then a birthday party. Very funny God. Veeeery funny. These are the kinds of days where I have to throw up my hands and say ‘Ok! You got me!’. These are the kinds of days when I mentally search my closet trying to find a dress that goes from somber to celebratory. These are the kinds of days that demand a touch of sweetness first thing in the morning. Thank goodness for Pan Dulce.

By the way, have you entered the Martha Stewart Blog Contest!?  Thanks for the heads up Ev!

Pan Dulce is a Mexican sweet bread. The bread itself is a slightly sweet, rich egg bread. The rolls are topped with a patterned sweet dough made out of butter, shortening, sugar and flour. The process takes as much care and patience as any yeasted bread, but the outcome is well worth the effort.

This bread recipe probably took me the better part of the afternoon. With the rolls that I didn’t immediately stuff in my face, I wrapped tightly and stuck n the freezer. Now any time I find myself with a rough morning or tricky day before me, I can thaw out a sweet bread, brew some coffee, and instantly make my morning more bearable.

Pan Dulce

adapted from recipezaar

Print this Recipe!

DOUGH

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 2/3 cups white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 5 large eggs, beaten

TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
*Please excuse the numbering of the instructions below. I don’t know how to make it stop doing what it’s doing. Sorry friends.
  1. For Dough: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water.
  2. Let stand 6-8 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups bread flour, salt, sugar and shortening and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add yeast mixture and 2 eggs.
  5. Mix completely.
  6. Add remaining eggs and mix.
  7. Add remaining bread flour and mix until the dough forms a loose, soft, and elastic dough.
  8. It should be a little sticky but firm enough to shape easily with buttered hands.
  1. Butter the work surface into a 4×6-inch rectangle, 1 1/2 inches thick.
  2. Cut into 16 medium or 24 small squares.
  1. Cover lightly with plastic wrap for 1 to 1 1/2 hours and let dough rise.
  2. Shape each dough square into a dome-shaped circle.
  3. On a lightly greased cookie sheet, place rolls 2 inches apart.
  4. For Topping: In a food processor using a metal blade, add the butter, shortening, powdered sugar, 1 cup flour and vanilla. You can also use a stand mixer for this process.
  5. Process until smooth, then divide into 2 equal parts.
  6. Leave one part plain and shape into a log. You can use a bit of pink or yellow dye to color this potion of the dough before shaping into a log, wrapping in wax paper, and chilling.
  7. Add cocoa and cinnamon to the other half of dough and wrap in wax paper.
  8. Chill the 3 logs until ready to use.
  1. Cut off 2 tablespoons of topping from the log and flatten with palms into a circle.
  1. Place topping circle on top of dough circle.
  2. It should completely cover dough.
  1. Use a sharp knife to cut a crisscross or shell design on top.
  2. Let rolls rise again in a warm place for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Bake for 12- 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

55 Comments Add A Comment

  • I’m surprised I’ve never seen these before – I feel like I’ve been deprived… until now. Hope your day got better!

  • Hi, Pan Dulce is ANY sweet bread, This kind of Pan Dulce are called Conchas, as in Sea Shells.
    Cheers

  • OMG! I love pan dulce and have never even considered baking some myself….I’m totally trying your recipe! In my grandmother’s neighborhood of Guadalajara Mexico, these are sold by an older gentleman riding his bike with a giant basket-full of freshly baked pan dulces. He usually comes in the evening announcing himself by ringing a small bell. Most people in Mexico have one with a glass of milk before going to bed, and then you have one with your coffee in the morning! Great post! Definitely stumbling this!

    • Hi Danny…I am from Guadalajara…and you make me remeber a lady that also sold this “conchas” ( in english is shells because some bakers cut the topping like a seashell, and also the topping is white) well, she finished sell them by 10 am…a whole big basket full of pan dulce….omg i really miss my country….lets make some!

  • These look delicious! I live in East Harlem, in New York, sometimes also known as Spanish Harlem, and there’s this little store right next door that sells these. If you time it just right, they’ll be fresh from the oven. Great post!

  • we call these “melon bread” in Japan because bakers like to make criss-crosses to resemble melons. but yours is the prettiest i’ve ever seen!

  • these look so cute. I bet its delicious too. Sweet bread is one of my downfalls .

  • Totally beautiful! The bread peeking through the pink is too cute! What a nice idea!
    Oh! …and next time, even if you don’t drink the whole bottle, because yes, Champagne is a traitor… have two big glasses of water before going to sleep, I promise… the train will pass by you!

  • These are so cute! I’ve actually never tried pan dulce with the topping like this but they look like they’d be a lot of fun to make and eat. Also, the topping allows for lots of creativity! Maybe some orange and black around Halloween time?

  • Beautiful photos. Would love to see the dress you picked out.

  • I’m charmed by these. How beautifully simple and perfect, just the thing to grab with an afternoon coffee. Thank you!

  • What a cute little cookie! Your Pan Dulce turned out great!

    • FYI: Pan Dulce is not a cookie. It’s Spanish for Sweet Bread. The Spanish teacher feels compelled to make this minor correction. I hope yours was delicious :).

  • I love you for posting this. My only Pan Dulce recipe is in Spanish, written by an 80 yr old woman, and I just can’t make it work. Look forward to trying yours. Thanks.

  • hope you survived your day! your pan looks great–love the pink! i’ve made these before to share them with some of my mexican friends at my old job–perfect with coffee.

  • I’m not ashamed to say that champagne is one of my true loves :) I regard it high up on my go-to list along with chocolate, Johnny Depp, and tomatoes. I know, weird combo but those are my loves. That bread reminds me of jewish challah bread because of the high egg content. I like the eggy breads since they produce such a thick and rich dough minus the loads of butter in brioche. I hope you get through your day ok. Maybe revisit the bottle later after the funeral and party?!

  • Wow, I have always loved these pastries. Whenever I’m in a Hispanic area, I make sure to go to a bakery and grab a few – they’re always so cheap! Thanks for the recipe, I never knew how they did the topping.

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