Kid-friendly Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

Recipe: Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Fernanda_Reyes/
prep time
35 minutes
cook time
18 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

Fun Fact: Sticky Fingers’ Headquarters is just steps away from Panadería Rosales, a fantastic, third-generation, family owned and operated Mexican bakery. And, truth be told, my kids were practically raised on goodies from there. Why? Because it’s THAT GOOD! Plus, when it’s Friday afternoon, and you’ve just learned that it’s your kiddo’s turn to bring snacks for the entire soccer team...what’s a busy Mom to do? A quick stop into our local panadería has always fit the bill! 

And there are soooooo many treats to choose from—churros, cuernos, and our kids’ all-time-fave: crusty, crunchy conchas! So today, in honor of panaderías everywhere, we’re sharing our take on Mexico’s favorite sweet roll! 

A popular family holiday in Mexico is Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors on November 1st. Often this holiday is celebrated with lots of sweets, and conchas seemed like a perfect way to learn and celebrate this holiday. 

The concha (also called pan dulce) is a sweet roll topped with a sugary streusel that’s usually flavored with vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. Concha means shell in Spanish—the name comes from their round shape and striped design that looks like the surface of a seashell. Conchas are often served for breakfast, and they’re deliciously dunkable—we recommend coffee for adults and hot chocolate for kids. For full effect, eat them warm, right out of the oven!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • bake :

    to cook food with dry heat, as in an oven.

  • knead :

    to work dough by pushing, pulling, and folding it by hand or with a stand mixer.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • roll :

    to use a rolling pin to flatten dough; use your hands to form a roll or ball shape; or move a round food, like a grape or a meatball, through another food, like sugar or breadcrumbs, to coat it.

  • shape :

    to form food into a specific shape by hand or with a cutting tool—examples are cutting cookie dough into shapes with cookie cutters, forming bread dough into a roll or crescent shape, and rolling ground meat into a meatball.

Equipment Checklist

  • Oven
  • Large mixing bowls (2)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Clean kitchen towel
  • Baking sheet
  • Small bowl
  • Whisk
  • Large pot
  • Ladle


Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

  • Concha dough:
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 tsp active dry yeast)
  • 2 T warm water
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, softened **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • 1/2 C whole milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil **
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C warm water—more info below)**
  • 2 C all-purpose flour + more for kneading **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub 2 1/2 C gluten-free flour)**
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Streusel topping:
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, softened **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance)**
  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor—check label)**
  • 1 T cocoa powder **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob powder)**
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free flour)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads

  • Dairy: Substitute dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance for butter. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk for whole milk.
  • Egg: For 1 egg, substitute 1 T flax seed + 1/4 C warm water. Stir and soak flaxseeds in warm water for 5 minutes or until fully absorbed and thickened.
  • Gluten/Wheat: For 2 C all-purpose flour for Concha dough, substitute 2 1/2 C gluten-free/nut-free flour. Substitute gluten-free/nut-free flour in Streusel topping. Use certified gluten-free pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavor. 
  • Soy: Substitute canola oil or other nut-free oil for vegetable oil.
  • Chocolate: Substitute carob powder for cocoa powder.


Day of the Dead Mighty Mexican Conchas Sweet Breads


Hola! A popular family holiday is Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors on November 1st. Often this holiday is celebrated with lots of sweets, like conchas (KON-chas).

measure + mix

Measure 1 packet of active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons active dry yeast), 2 tablespoons warm water, and 2 tablespoons sugar and combine in a large mixing bowl. The yeast will become foamy in about 5 minutes. In a separate mixing bowl, measure 1/2 cup milk, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 large egg and whisk to combine. Add 1/4 cup softened butter and stir that into the milk mixture. Once the yeast is foamy, pour the milk mixture into the yeast bowl. Stir gently to combine.

measure + knead

Measure 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp ground cinnamon and pour it all into the liquid mixture. Combine with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes before pouring the contents onto a floured surface and kneading. To properly knead the dough, start by coating your hands in flour, then press down on the dough with your hands, fold the dough in half, turn the dough in a half circle, and then repeat for 5 minutes.

rest dough + count

After 5 minutes of kneading, allow the dough to rest by placing it back in the large mixing bowl and covering with a clean kitchen towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Have your kids count to 5 in Spanish: 1 Uno, 2 Dos, 3 Tres, 4 Cuatro, 5 Cinco. See who can count the highest.

measure + mix

In one of the cleaned out mixing bowls, measure the ingredients for the streusel. Combine 1/4 cup soft butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup flour until a smooth dough forms. This dough will be layered over the top of the other dough while it bakes.

preheat + shape

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Return to the first dough that was resting. Divide the dough into as many golf ball-sized pieces as possible (roughly 2 tablespoons of dough each). Roll the dough into smooth ball shapes. Then, divide the streusel into enough pieces to cover each of the dough balls you just rolled out. Flatten the streusel dough into a flat, circular sheet and lay each streusel over the concha dough balls. Gently press the two doughs together.

bake + serve

Place all of the dough pieces onto a greased baking sheet. Be sure to leave 1/2 inch between each dough ball. Bake at 350 F for 18 minutes. These Mexican pastries are a tasty treat, perfect to serve with a hot drink.

Surprise Ingredient: Baker's Yeast!

back to recipe
Photo by Galiyah Assan/

Hi! I'm Baker's Yeast!

"Did you know that I'm a living organism? If you add baker's yeast to dough, it will cause your bread, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and more to rise up! Just add me to warm water with a little sugar (which I love to eat) and wait at least five minutes until I burp some gas bubbles (excuse me!) and get foamy at the top before adding me to your flour and other ingredients!"

  • Yeasts are single-celled, microscopic members of the fungus kingdom. Baker's yeast is from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is the strain of yeast used to leaven (or raise) bread and other types of dough. It is also used in beer and winemaking. 
  • There are several varieties of baker's yeast: active dry yeast, compressed yeast, cream yeast, deactivated yeast, instant yeast, and rapid-rise yeast. Home bakers and Sticky Fingers Cooking chef instructors generally use active dry yeast, instant yeast, or rapid-rise yeast when baking. 
  • Active dry yeast must be activated by adding a warm liquid, like water or milk. Its granules are larger than the other dry yeasts, instant and rapid-rise, which do not have to be rehydrated (or proofed). 
  • The word "yeast" comes from the Old English "gist," of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root "yes-," meaning to "boil," "foam," or "bubble."
  • Baker's yeast has some protein, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium; however, the amount you would get from a packet of active dry yeast distributed throughout a dough would be minimal.
  • Nutritional yeast, a deactivated yeast, contains more protein, fiber, B vitamins, and potassium than active dry yeast. People who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet often add nutritional yeast to foods to supplement these nutrients and add a nutty or cheesy flavor to foods.

What are Conchas?

Photo by Marcos Castillo/
  • A concha, also known in Spanish as "pan dulce" (sweet bread), is a Mexican sweet roll that has been shaped and stamped to look like a seashell or "concha" in Spanish. 
  • The concha has two parts: the sweet roll on the bottom and a sugary, crunchy topping made of butter, sugar, and flour (or streusel). The top layer is stamped with the distinctive shell design when the dough is finished proofing. 
  • Vanilla and chocolate flavors (and colors) are common, but you may also find conchas with strawberry, cinnamon, coffee, orange blossom, and other flavors.

Let's Learn About Mexico!

Photo by Alena Darmel
  • Officially, Mexico's name is "The United Mexican States." It is one of several countries and territories in North America, including Canada and the United States of America.
  • Spanish is Mexico's national language, and Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican people didn't always speak Spanish, though. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived there and built great cities. The people had advanced language, education, and calendar systems, and they had very clever ways of raising food. Mexico is also the country with the largest number of native American speakers in North America. 
  • The capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexican legend says that Aztec leaders were told to build their great city of Tenochtitlan at the site where they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. That image is in the center of Mexico's flag. The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a lake. The ruins of Tenochtitlan are at the center of Mexico City and still sit on top of a lake! As water is pumped out to serve the needs of the city's growing population, the city has been sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  
  • Indigenous Mexican people included the Aztecs in the central interior of the country, the Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula, and the Zapotec of the south. Spanish explorers landed in Mexico in the early 1500s, and they ruled Mexico for over 300 years. During this time of colonization, Mexico's Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture.
  • Before the arrival of Spaniards, native Mexican food primarily consisted of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs. Indigenous people occasionally hunted and added wild turkey, rabbit, deer, and quail to their largely vegetarian diets. Native royalty sipped chocolate drinks. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, sugarcane, and wheat to Mexico upon their arrival. 
  • Mexican cuisine uses chili peppers to give it its distinct flavor. Jalapeños, poblanos, and serrano peppers are commonly used in Mexican dishes. Dishes that include mole, a sauce made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions, such as Día de los Muertos. 

What is it like to be a kid in Mexico?

  • Mexican children may live near the ocean or the gulf, in the desert, or in the mountains. 
  • Kids often live with extended family, including grandparents. Their full names include their father's and their mother's.
  • Most kids speak Spanish, but Mexico also recognizes 68 native languages. 
  • They attend school from September through June. Large schools have two shifts—one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students are usually required to wear uniforms. 
  • They may play soccer, baseball, and other sports. Jumping rope and other outdoor games are very popular. They might play a game similar to bingo called Lotería. It is played with picture cards and songs. 
  • Corn tortillas are a staple for kids, along with beans and rice. Dishes that include mole, a sauce often made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions. 
  • A popular family holiday is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors. Family members decorate the graves of their relatives who have passed on. Typical foods served for this holiday include empanadas, tamales, pan de muertos (a sweet bread in which a ring with a tiny plastic skeleton is hidden), and calaveras de azucar (sugar candy skulls). 

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock!"

"Who's there?" 


"Yeast who?"

"At yeast I knocked!"

That's Berry Funny

What did the yeast say to the bag of flour? 

Come on, we knead to be serious!

The Yolk's On You

What did the yeast confess to the bag of flour? 

I loaf you dough much!

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