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Concha Cupcakes Recipe: A Delicious Spin on Mexican Sweet Bread

Concha Cupcakes Recipe
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Pan Dulce or traditional Mexican sweet bread is not something I make often and I don’t know why, because it’s delish! Actually, I only made it once before, for Valentine’s, heart-shaped in red and rose. They were so nice and fluffy, so I pretty much used the same recipe now, with a few alternations. That flavor came in a different shape this time, so I’m sharing a recipe for concha cupcakes.

If you don’t know what conchas exactly are, here is a little explanation. They consist of two parts – a soft and fluffy bread roll and crispy cookie dough on top. Ingredients are super basic, but you can go all out on spices and create different flavors every time. They are perfect to serve with milk and coffee, but I love them the most with a hazelnut spread!

What Makes Concha Cupcakes Special?

In winter, I love everything warm, cinnamon-y, and vanilla-y. I wanted to create Christmas magic with this batch of conchas, so I took gingerbread cookies as my inspiration. For the sweet bread base, I used all the usual ingredients and added orange zest for a bit of a citrusy feel, plus cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla bean paste for comfort.

It may sound too much, but those spices blend perfectly creating an aromatic bite. Also, I added a few drops of honey to activate the yeast and to give a trace of the signature gingerbread taste. For a streusel topping, I didn’t add any artificial color, only cocoa for a darker shade of brown. My kitchen smelled like I baked a whole gingerbread house village!

Concha Cupcakes Pinterest

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How to Make Concha Cupcakes?

The bread is something similar to brioche texture, so of course, the key is kneading. Here, I always use a mixer with a dough attachment, because doing it by hand would last about half an hour. So, get your hands ready, and here’s the ingredient list!

  • Flour – All-purpose flour gives the best texture to brioche-like baked goods.
  • Sugar – I opted for brown sugar, for a tad of that caramelly flavor. You can use regular white sugar, of course. For a streusel topping, go for powdered sugar. The texture is much better with it.
  • Milk – You can use milk or water here. I think milk gives a bit softer texture, though.
  • Yeast – Yeast is the only leavening agent in all brioche doughs.
  • Eggs – Eggs boost the fluffy texture.
  • Honey – I used honey to make the yeast bloom. It adds a subtle flavor I love, but you can skip it and use sugar or some other sweetener, like agave syrup.
  • Butter – Butter helps to create a softer texture of the sweet bread and crispiness of the topping.
  • Cocoa – Cocoa is great for adding a bit of natural color to the conchas. Also, it gives a hint of bitterness and complexity.
  • Spices – I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange zest in the dough. Next time, I’m thinking about adding some ginger, as well. Conchas turned out highly aromatic! Vanilla paste blended amazingly and it’s in both layers.

Get ready to bake!

Step 1: Kneading the Dough

First things first, start with waking up the yeast. Mix up lukewarm milk, yeast, and honey, and stir it well until all the lumps are gone. Leave that on the side, for about 10 minutes until the bubbles appear on top.

While the yeast is blooming, prepare the other ingredients. Meld dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl: all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and spices. I chose cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla paste, and orange zest, plus a pinch of salt.

Make a dent in the middle for the wet ingredients: crack eggs, pour in yeast mixture, and add room-temperature butter. From here, you can knead it by hand, but it will last long. I would always recommend using a mixer with a dough attachment.

Start with the lowest speed until dry and wet ingredients are combined. Now, turn up the speed to the maximum and knead it for 10 to 15 minutes. Soon, the dough will start to pull away from the bowl and it will be soft, sticky, and stretchy, but don’t add any more flour.

Just keep mixing because that will wake up the gluten and the dough will be less and less sticky. It will still be super soft, though, but that’s the goal. If it’s still sticky after 15 minutes of kneading, add about a tablespoon of flour and it will be enough. 

The dough will be soft, smooth, and breathable. Cover it with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise for at least an hour. It should double up in size.

Kneading the Dough for Concha Cupcakes

Step 2: Making the Streusel Topping

For the crunchy top, combine all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, vanilla paste, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and room-temperature butter. I prefer to knead this one by hand, as the warmth melts the butter and you’ll get the right texture quicker. The texture is kind of like a Play-Doh, smooth, and shiny, but not sticky.

About 5 minutes of kneading is enough. Swathe it in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. If your kitchen is very warm, put the topping in the fridge 10 minutes prior the use, so it will be easier to roll out. 

Making the Streusel Topping for Concha Cupcakes

Step 3: Assembling the Concha Cupcakes

From this amount of dough, you’ll get between 16 and 18 standard-sized cupcakes. I like to use a digital kitchen scale here, so all of the cupcakes have the same weight and bake equally. I went with 50 grams each and I think that is an ideal size.

So, part the dough into equal pieces and shape small balls to fit the cupcake liners. Place each one in the cupcake tin, cover with kitchen towel, and let them proof for one more hour to double up.

Assembling Concha Cupcakes

When it comes to cookie topping, for me, it’s easier to roll it out with a pin. You can do the same or flatten individual pieces. If you go for a second option, weigh about 30 grams of topping per concha.

For the first option, place the baking paper on the counter, dust it with flour, and roll out the streusel topping with a pin. It shouldn’t be too thin because it will most definitely fall apart. I used a glass the size of a cupcake mold and cut out 16 of them.

Peel it out carefully of the baking paper and place it on top of the conchas. Carve it as you wish! I wanted to make a few with a gingerbread head carved on top, but that didn’t come out well. 😀 Luckily, I traced the traditional shell-like patterns on the rest.

Assembling Concha Cupcakes 1

Cover them again with a kitchen towel and leave them for about 30 minutes to rise.

Step 4: Baking and Serving

I baked the concha cupcakes at 350 °F (180 °C) for about 20 minutes. This depends on how strong your oven is, so definitely check it out with a toothpick. It should come out clean. Leave it for 5 minutes in the tin and then, arrange it on the tray.

Dust it with powdered sugar on top and serve. They are the tastiest when fresh from the oven, warm, cloudy, and crunchy on top. I LOVE to eat it with hazelnut spreads or with hot chocolate!

How to Store Concha Cupcakes?

I prefer to store my sweet bread at room temperature, as they keep the fluffiness like that the best. They will be fresh for 2 days wrapped in plastic foil or placed in an airtight container. In the fridge, they will be good for up to 5 days.

Concha Cupcakes

Concha Cupcakes Recipe

Author: Laura Bais
Concha cupcakes are a perfect blend of Mexican and American cuisine. Sweet bread is fluffy, aromatic, soft, and airy, while the streusel topping is crunchy with a melt-in-the-mouth texture. I was inspired by gingerbread cookies, so they are infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla!
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Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 18 pieces
Calories 224.7 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Mixer
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 1 cupcake tin

Ingredients
 
 

Sweet Bread Dough

  • ½ cup milk (or water) (lukewarm)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tbsp dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tbsp butter (softened)

Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste

Instructions
 

Kneading the Dough

  • Mix up lukewarm milk, yeast, and honey, and stir it well until all the lumps are gone. Leave that on the side, for about 10 minutes until the bubbles appear on top.
  • Meld dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl: all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla paste, and orange zest, plus a pinch of salt.
  • Make a dent in the middle for the wet ingredients: crack eggs, pour in yeast mixture, and add room-temperature butter.
  • Start mixing with the lowest speed until dry and wet ingredients are combined. Now, turn up the speed to the maximum and knead it for 10 to 15 minutes. Soon, the dough will start to pull away from the bowl and it will be soft, sticky, and stretchy, but don’t add any more flour. Just keep mixing.
  • It will still be super soft, but that’s the goal. If it’s still sticky after 15 minutes of kneading, add about a tablespoon of flour and it will be enough. The dough will be soft, smooth, and breathable. Cover it with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise for at least an hour. It should double up in size.

 Making the Streusel Topping

  • Combine all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, vanilla paste, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and room-temperature butter. Knead this one by hand, as the warmth melts the butter and you’ll get the right texture quicker. The texture is kind of like a Play-Doh, smooth, and shiny, but not sticky.
  • Swathe it in plastic wrap and store it at room temperature. If your kitchen is very warm, put the topping in the fridge 10 minutes prior the use, so it will be easier to roll out.

Assembling the Concha Cupcakes

  • Part the dough into equal 50-gram pieces and shape small balls to fit the cupcake liners. Place each one in the cupcake tin, cover with kitchen towel, and let them proof for one more hour to double up.
  • Place the baking paper on the counter, dust it with flour, and roll out the streusel topping with a pin. It shouldn’t be too thin. Use a glass the size of a cupcake mold and cut out 18 circles.
  • Peel it out carefully of the baking paper and place it on top of the conchas. Carve it as you wish. Cover them again with a kitchen towel and leave them for about 30 minutes to rise.

Baking and Serving

  • Baked the concha cupcakes at 350 °F (180 °C) for about 20 minutes. Check it out with a toothpick. It should come out clean. Leave it for 5 minutes in the tin and then, arrange it on the tray.
  • Dust it with powdered sugar on top and serve. They are the tastiest when fresh from the oven, warm, cloudy, and crunchy on top.

Notes

Serving Tips
Keep them at room temperature in an airtight container or swathed in plastic wrap for 2 days, or 5 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 224.7kcalCarbohydrates: 31.3gProtein: 3.9gFat: 9.3gSaturated Fat: 5.6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2.4gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 40.9mgSodium: 141.7mgPotassium: 63.8mgFiber: 1.2gSugar: 9.3gVitamin A: 295.2IUVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 27.8mgIron: 1.5mg
Keyword Conchas, Gingerbread Conchas, Gingerbread Cupcakes, Pan Dulce, Sweet Bread

Before diving into the nutritional details, please review our Nutritional Disclaimer page for important context and clarifications.