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]


  1. these are soooo beautiful! esp. since i teach spanish, i would get these for my students when i lived in ann arbor from detroit!!! wow!! i might have to "attempt" to make these!!! you are so talented lilianah~~~!!!!

  2. This is so unique and look very tasty!!! Wonderful recipe and gorgeous pictures!!!!

  3. Pan Dulce for breakfast? Yes please! I've never seen this sweet bread before but I'm very pleased I know about it now. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

  4. Whenever we travel to Mexico, we love seeing these pastries in the grocery stores and bakeries. Never thought about making them at home but your recipe makes it sound totally doable.

  5. This looks incredible. Coffee, I need my coffee to go with this.

  6. WOW! SO beautiful! What a yummy treat for breakfast :)

  7. I can't decide which is prettier - your pan dulce or your plates! OK, definitely the sweets, but I'm also in looove with that B&W design. I'll have to make these for my college roomie's birthday this year: her name is Concha...

  8. @Junia - your students will love you if you make these for them! ;) thank you for your lovely comments!
    @Sandra - thanks, lady - i was so glad i tried this recipe, it was definitely quite tasty! and thanks for the top 9 love! =)
    @Hester - they make a great tea time snack too... happy cinco to you too!
    @Angela - i wish i got to try these in mexico when we visited last year, but i actually don't remember seeing them. but definitely next time!
    @Ken - these were amazing with some earl grey tea and milk as well. but yes, coffee is a must! thanks for stopping by!
    @Lizzy - thank you... it truly is a treat.
    @Celia - lol, these plates are probably the prettiest dinnerware i own (yay for wedding registries!) - they're by Mikasa. it's kinda faint in the pics, but there's also some dark brown in the design. ooh these would be perfect for Concha - just reminded me, i know someone named Conchita... never thought it could mean "little seashell" ;)

  9. Ooh, I can't wait to adapt this for my gluten-free belly - looks so yummy! Great recipe.

  10. I love MExican pastries. Have have a cinco de mayo menu up at my site as well. Thx for sharing.

  11. I love these, and I haven't had them in so long! Surprisingly I never thought to make them myself. Your's came out great, definitely saving and buzzing this one!

  12. How did I miss these?!! Yay Top 9!!! You go girl!!!

  13. Thanks for leaving me a comment over at Chef Dennis'. I really appreciate it! That butter was a last-minute addition and it ended up being my favorite!! ♥- Katrina

  14. Very cute blog. I love the font on your header!

  15. Hi! I'm having a linky party called A Themed Baker's Sunday where this weeks theme is bread! I would love for you to join! Hope to see you there!

  16. I had a Mexican grandma and have LOVED pan dulce since I was a small child. Today I took my 3 year old grandson to the Mexican bakery (he loves pan dulce too)and was JUST teling him that I have to try and make some myself. He likes them with the chocolate topping:) Looks like a winning recipe!

  17. I've been craving pan dulce so badly since I went gluten free (especially after my mom died). Do you know how to make the pink topping, too?

  18. I've been craving pan dulce so badly since I went gluten free (especially after my mom died). Do you know how to make the pink topping, too?

  19. @Susan: I haven't made this w/ pink topping but I imagine it's just pink food coloring.

  20. @Susan: I haven't made this w/ pink topping but I imagine it's just pink food coloring.


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