Secret Recipe #1 –Real Pan Dulce (Sweet Bread)

In honor of my sister in law’s birthday today, Feliz Cumpleanos! 

My sister in law Reyna is such a wonderful women. Mother of 8, she is only 2 years older than me and we hit it off right from the beginning. She has taken time to show me how to make some recipes from their rancho in Guerrero that you will never find recipes or recetas for on the internet — until now.

I kinda feel like I’m pulling back the curtain a little, like I’m breaking some secret code because y’all just don’t realize how long and hard I’ve searched for some of these recipes that I’m going to share on here.

This winter I recently perfected making the pan dulce, or sweet bread .  It is also called conchas. Yes there are many recipes for conchas online and I guess that’s how the Mexican stores and others make them, but the ones that Mexican women make at home for their families are totally different. These are not rich people, rich in family, community and honor yes – in money no. So when you see Mexican recipes that call for a long list of different ingredients, more than likely its not a Real Mexican recipe. You will see here in my blog as time goes on, most of my recipes use only a few, very simple ingredients. What they can grow, what they can raise. That’s what makes real Mexican food so beautiful, the simplicity and complexity all rolled into one, just like the people that make it.

San Juan Tehuhuhatla (Tea-wa-wet-la) Rancho de Guerrero

Pan Dulce (Please keep it a secret and just wow your family and friends with it)

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Makes about 2 dozen, depending on how big you want your pan

1 1/2 bags of 2lb all purpose flour
I recommend using “Selecta” a Mexican flour that you can find sometimes in Walmart or any Mexican store.
4 -5 Tblsp yeast (use a regular spoon for this measuring)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
Aluminium foil

** Before I start the instructions let me explain that they don’t really use measurements or learn how to make things with measurements. A lot is by eyeing it and just learning how its suppose to feel and look throughout the process. I’ve done my best to convert it to measurements as I’ve made it on my own, but keep that in mind as you make it that you might need to use a little more of something than what I’ve said.**

Pour 1 2lb bag of flour in a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of sugar.

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In a measuring cup, add the 4-5 Tblsp of yeast. Fill it with super hot water (not boiling, just really hot) to the 2 cup mark or right below it. Mix and set aside for a sec.

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Mix the flour and sugar together
with your hands (oh, this whole recipe is done with your hands) Add the yeast and mix in (yes I know its hot)

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Once you get that mixed in, add around 1/4 cup of oil, maybe a little more. It should be coming together now in a dough consistency.

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Sprinkle some flour across your work surface. Flip out the dough and continue to knead it. You should feel the dough getting hot and see its consistency becoming more smooth. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes of kneading. You should be able to lightly press the dough and leave you hand print when its ready. Also the dough should feel light, not a heavy dough ball. It should feel light and airy.

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Cut the aluminum foil out in squares that fit a cookie sheet or your oven, at least 4 or 5 sheets. Spray them with cooking spray or just rub oil over them.

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Roll the dough into a log shape. Does not have to be perfect. Get a butter knife and begin cutting the log in pieces. If you want a little smaller size pan (bread), you’ll cut circles about 1/2 inch thick. Roll each piece into a ball and place on one of the foil sheets, flattening it a little.

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Make sure you space the balls out on the foil because they will be doubling in size.  Once you get them all on the foil, rub oil over the top of each one gently pressing them into a little bigger circles.

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What to put on top:
There is a slightly sweeter topping that is traditionally put on them.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
Oil

You can add coloring or flavoring to this part once your familiar with how to make it.

In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and a little oil, maybe about a little less than 1/8 cup.  (Again with your hands) You want the consistancy around a sugar cookie dough, just a little more flexible and wetter. This part you can taste to make sure its sweet but not too sweet.

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Pinch little pieces off and flatten it out in a little circle and place it on each pan. (Sometimes its easier to flatten it a little and then place it on the pan and spread it out more to fit the top of the pan). Make a tic tac toe board, minus the x and o.

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You don’t have to put these on all of them, some you can just sprinkle sugar over or sugar and cinnamon or colored sprinkles.

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You can also make them in shapes. Sometimes I make braid sticks, braided wreaths or bigotes, which you’ve probably seen if you frequent Mexican pastries.

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Now you wait. Like 4 hours usually for the bread to rise. The temperature in the house  and outside makes a difference.  It needs to be warm in the house where these are. The colder the area is there is a danger that they won’t rise or it will take much longer for them to rise.

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They should look like the picture above, double in size.
OK its been 4 hours and they are ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put one sheet in at a time. Keep an eye on them. The delicious smell of sweet bead will have your whole house making their way to the kitchen. 

They will golden brown and your topping will be whiter than the bread. If you pick up a piece or two, the bottom should be a uniform golden brown. If they are still white, they are not done.

Once they are done pull them out and let them sit to cool. Try to keep sneaking hands away during this time. My husband is worse than the kids.

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Your done!  Give them as a gift or just for breakfast or a snack. My family loves them with coffee, milk and hot chocolate.  This batch made 30 pieces medium sized.

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Buenas noches! Amy