Yeast Feast ~ Pan Dulce

Usually, I'm not one to hop on the foodie-holiday-themed bandwagon (mostly because I'm not that creative) but with all of the Cinco De Mayo posts abound on the 'net, I figured I would join in on the fun!  Originally, I had something else in mind for my last  "Yeast Feast" post, so this last minute change called for a search from my trusty friend, Google.  What kind of yeasty Mexican treats would I find?   

One quick search for Mexican bread yielded results of "pan dulce" - which, translated literally is "bread sweet" - sweet bread, to be grammatically correct in English.  The photos that accompanied these results showed a bun or roll-like bread with some kind of decorative topping.  They reminded me of a bun that can be found in Chinese bakeries called, po-lo bao, or "pineapple" bread - due to the criss-cross grooves carved in the topping to look like a pineapple.  Those are always my favorite because of the sweet crunchy topping.  It's like having a soft, crumbly cookie on top of bread...

Without a second thought, I knew I had to make these pan dulces - if not for the topping itself! This recipe from makes two different toppings - cinnamon and vanilla flavored.  Both are phenomenal, but the vanilla definitely transported me to my favorite Chinese bakery.

I imagine you can create all types of designs for the topping, as well as dye the vanilla portion the colors of the Mexican flag to get festive for the holiday. The ones I carved to look like seashells are actually called "conchas" because they resemble conch or clam shells.  However they are decorated, they make a delightful breakfast (or anytime) treat!  

[See all of the posts in my 4-part "Yeast Feast" series here. ]

Pan Dulce (Mexican Sweet Bread)
adapted from

[Print Recipe]

Makes 12 pan dulces

For the bread:
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporated milk or half-half
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

For the topping:
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir together the yeast and warm water.  Add  the milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, egg and half of the flour to the same bowl. Gradually mix in the remaining flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Continue kneading the dough until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, to make the topping - beat sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the flour until the mixture is the consistency of thick paste or a cookie dough.  Divide dough into two parts.  Place in two separate bowls - add cinnamon to one part and vanilla to the other.  Divide each portion of topping into 6 balls, and pat each ball down into flat rounds.  Set aside.

Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  When the dough has risen, cut into 12 equal pieces.  Shape into balls, and place on baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches in between. Place topping rounds on top of the dough balls, patting down lightly. Use a pairing knife to cut grooves in the topping like a clam shell or any designs desired. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

*or 75 gramsI don't know about you, but 3/8 cups just doesn't register in my brain.  So I used the converter to view the recipe in metrics - grams and just used my scale to weigh out my ingredients.

[This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting]