Saturday, March 12, 2016

Pan Dulce or Mexican Sweet Bread

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a recipe for any fans of Mexican pastries, and those of you who haven't tried any yet.
Snagged this photo from Pinterest, says it's a bakery in Los Angeles called Pan de Vita, but really it could be from anywhere. If I'd thought ahead, I would have included a photo from our local tortilleria/panaderia. Rows and rows of these, and nary a chocolate chip cookie in sight. My kids just love this stuff so my husband takes them down most every Saturday morning or even a Wednesday evening. Me? I like it well enough when it's dipped in hot coffee. It's just not my preferred Mexican pastry.
"And what is?" you ask. Why I do happen to have one available so I'll put up a pic. This is also under the banner of "pan dulce" but it's very light and airy... and a lot more sugar. LOL. Just the American in me. I can't go from doughnuts to pan dulce and not notice how much less sweet they are.
So, let's start. The bread isn't very sweet, despite the name, so sometimes if I'm out of eggs, I'll just substitute any bread recipe that starts with warm milk, oil and a little sugar. 
1 cup milk
6 TBS butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
 5 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup flour
4 TBs butter
So, heat the milk and butter in a pan until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool. Add the yeast, salt, eggs, and flour. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and let rise for one hour.
Split the dough into 16 small balls and put on a cookie sheet. Start mixing the ingredients for the topping.
It needs to stick together, but not be too crumbly. This sticks together nicely, but definitely needs more flour. This looks like the beginning of a delicious cookie dough, but it shouldn't be that sweet.
This is crumbly, but I can still pat it into a disk.
Place a small disk of the topping on each roll. (Most people dye the topping different colors but we were out of food dye and since it doesn't change the flavor... Oh, well!)
Take a knife and slice diagonal cuts into the topping. This style of pan dulce is called "las conches", because it looks like conch shells. 
Put in a warm place with a damp towel and let rise another hour. Preheat oven to 350F
After they've risen again, you can see the distinctive pattern emerging. Sometimes my teens cut different shapes into the topping but I'm not that creative! 
 After about 15 minute you can check on the bread. It might take another few minutes but you don't want to overcook them.
 Mmmmm, hot out of the oven pan dulce y cafe con leche. LOL. Or if I left off the topping it would just be brioche avec un cafe au lait, but let's not talk about that. My kids are convinced it's PAN DULCE and nothing can change that.
 So, if you're a fan of sweet breads, but not too-sweet breads, this is a recipe that's quick (except for the rising and hey, we can all go watch TV or something) and easy.

  I'm running off to check over my final copy of The Boundless Deep before I have to submit it. I always get so excited at book release time. :D It's like Easter... several times a year.
Take some pan dulce and coffee on your way out, and I'll see you all again next weekend!


  1. Yummy. Have you ever had Italian Easter bread with the whole hard boiled eggs in them? That's what this reminded me of.

    1. I haven't but I've seen pictures! Isn't that an Eastern Orthodox thing? Or Greek Orthodox? I know my Greek Orthodox friends have a tradition of breaking bright red boiled eggs on Easter. I should probably google...

  2. Oooh....I'm always up for a bread adventure. We have Mexican restaurants up here but no bakeries. And at the restaurants the only sweet they have is deep fried bananas with vanilla ice cream. Not that I'm complaining -- it's delicious.

    1. MMMM. I've never had that! I've heard of fried ice cream but never had that, either.

  3. I really have to quit coming to the Cafe ... first the pic of the Mexican cookies (I'll take a dozen of each, please) and then this recipe ... I can feel my fat cells multiplying. Your book, however, looks wonderful and calorie-free :-) The cover continuity in your Cane River series is lovely.

    1. Thank you! I'm proud of the cover because I made it myself.... and of course immediately saw another just like it, but oh well! :D I'll carry on.

      And I'm not fond of the sweet bread so I can pass and multiply my fat cells on something else, like pizza.

  4. Ooh, I love anything yeasty--sweet or not. I can't wait to try this!

    1. I love sweet, and not sweet, but this "kind of sweet, but really not" is odd to me. I always feel it's not quite sweet ENOUGH. But then I dunk it in my sweetened coffee and everything is okay again. LOL

  5. The picture you used with the mug of coffee (2nd from the top) looks like my favorite Morning Bun that our greenmarket baker sells. Pastry topped by sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmm.

    I was just thinking I need to cut back on the donuts and other carbs and along come you and Missy with wonderful recipes. Time to bring on the kale!!!

    1. I think it does have cinnamon! It's not fried, though. Just baked and very light, almost all air. Not sure what it's made out of but I'm sure there's a healthy helping of lard in there. This bakery is not vegan friendly and I think everything is based in milk, lard, and has eggs. :P
      And I've been CRAVING fresh vegetables and fruits. And water. Lots of water. It's like my body is coming out of winter hibernation mode. I can't wait for the spring opening of our farmer's markets!!

  6. Cookies. And bread. And cookie bread? This recipe looks so good. I love my sweets not too sweet, and this looks like just the thing. Yum!

    And the Mexican cookies look wonderful. I've had the kind that is made somewhere (probably not Mexico) and packaged in plastic containers. You know, when you use cheap ingredients, nothing tastes good. But if I saw these at a local bakery, I'd try them in a second!

    But, alas. I'll have to wait until we're on the road somewhere. As diverse as our culture can be here in western South Dakota, the Mexican immigrant families I came to know and love in other places we've lived just aren't here. So no real Mexican restaurants, or bakeries, or anything. Sigh.

    1. And from what I can tell from friends' posts in Texas and California, even the Mexican food you're used to may not be what you find from "authentic" Mexican restaurants or families. It really depends on the region, sometimes. And there's even more variety when you're taking your info from people further South. I have friends from Guatemala and Venezuela and their recipes are completely different from my husband's family recipes.
      On that note, I looked at several recipes and they were all different(some included egg yolks in the topping, for example). The first I tried was tasty, but more like a true sweet bread. (I thought it was great, haha!). This recipe was more like the kind we get from the panaderia down the block, which is run by people from the same city as my husband.

      One of my friends lives on the coast of Mexico, in Mazatlan and the pictures she posts has me wanting to book tickets every time I see them. :D

    2. You're right about the Mexican restaurants - most of my favorites are "Tex-Mex." I do remember one little place in Abilene, TX, though...the food was fabulous, and not Tex-Mex. Definitely the owner's own recipes, and delicious. :)

    3. I have a Tex Mex cookbook and I think everything looks delicious! But my husband prefers the Central Mexican mountain cooking, lots of fire roasted everything, moles, not much dairy or cheese (which Tex Mex has a lot of), and if there's meat it's super thin, marinated flank steak rather than the shredded pork or beef.
      Probably the biggest difference is just chili. He'd never had chili con carne (or otherwise) until he moved to the US. It's either refried beans or beans out of the pot. Never beans cooked with spices and meat. Also, no red beans or other bean. Only pinto.

      I was just shocked that he'd never had chili because isn't it Mexican food?? LOL. But apparently it's a creation of the good USA and borderlands. :)