Also known as Mexican morning buns or conchas, pan dulce pairs an airy brioche base with a sugar cookie-like topping.
In a large metal bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the warm water, yeast, milk, eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar. Add 1 cup of flour and beat until smooth. Add another cup of flour and mix well, then add the butter and mix until incorporated. Add two more cups of flour, half a cup at a time, mixing between additions. This will bring you to four cups of flour already used in the dough. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. It will be very sticky.
Generously dust your work surface and hands with flour, then turn the dough out. You are going to knead the dough by hand for 4 to 5 minutes, but will need to dust the it with flour 1 tablespoon at a time at intervals to prevent it from sticking to the work surface or your hands. Don’t overdo it with the flour. Use just enough to prevent sticking. You will probably use another ½ to 1 cup of flour during the kneading process.
Once the dough is soft, slightly sticky and springs back when you press your thumb into it, shape it into a ball and place it in a large, lightly greased bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With a knife, cut the dough in half, then cut each half in two. Now you’ll have four pieces of dough. Cut each piece into four more sections, then roll each section into a smooth ball. Place the balls onto your prepared baking sheet, gently pressing down and spacing them at least three inches apart.
With a sharp knife cut three slits on the top of each ball of dough. Cover each tray with plastic wrap, lightly spraying the wrap with baking spray before putting the oiled side down onto the dough. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, make the topping by combining the flour, confectioners sugar, butter, egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. With two metal spoons, place 1 tablespoon worth of topping on each bun, gently spreading the topping around with the back of one of the spoons.
Allow the buns to rise for another ½ hour, then bake at 375 degrees F for 18-24 minutes or until golden brown. If your oven isn’t big enough for both baking sheets to fit at once, it’s fine to bake one tray at a time. The buns that go in second will just have risen a bit more.
Cool on a rack, then serve warm or at room temperature. The buns will keep for about 2 days in an airtight container.
Keywords: pan dulce recipe, concha recipe, mexican morning bun recipe