The concha is one of Mexico’s most traditional sweet breads, or pan dulces. The round roll gets its name from the seashell-like appearance on its crunchy top, which is made of sugar, butter, and flour. It’s a recipe that hasn’t varied too much over the past several hundred years, other than opting for lard instead of butter or corn flour instead of wheat.
In recent months the concha has been trending. It’s appearing all over Instagram as panaderías and restaurants, in Mexico and the United States, break from tradition and turn the concha into a strange donut hybrid that might make it the new cronut. Or they have made it into a breakfast sandwich. Or new ingredients and flavors are being swapped in by world renown chefs.
Here are three new takes on the iconic sweet roll:
Subiéndonos al #TrenDelMame fuimos a probar las “Donchas” una supuesta mezcla entre una dona y una concha que realmente es una concha con forma de dona. Está muy buena, pero lo único que sentimos es que el hoyo del centro pudieron haber sido un par de mordidas adicionales de un pan muy rico . . . . . #concha #dona #doncha #pan #pandulce #desayuno #breakfast #pandedulce #pandulcemexicano #soycomidista #food #foodporn #instafood #foodie #foodstagram #foodgasm #foodpics #foodphotography #foodblogger #comida #foodlovers #gastronomia #gastromx #yummy
Panadería San José: Mexico City – “Donchas”
This cross between a donut and a conchawas created by Enrique Alva, who owns Mexico City’s Panadería San José. Alva and a friend were drinking when the idea came to be and tests came not long after. Essentially, the doncha is a donut with the concha’s crunchy shell cover. It comes in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and the “Natalias”, which are named after his daughter and are rainbow colored for maximum Instagram. Like the cronut, the doncha has provoked dozens of imitations in bakeries around Mexico.
Oxomoco: Brooklyn, NY – Concha Especial
Open only a few months, the modern Mexican restaurant Oxomoco in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has garnered attention for cooking everything on a wood fired grill. When they launched their breakfast and lunch menu a few weeks ago, their breakfast sandwich, called the Concha Especial, stood out more than any other. Using the concha as a bun, they fill it with chorizo verde, salsa cruda, crema, a fried egg, onion, and chicharrón. Note that it’s not the first time the concha has been used as a bun. It’s been tested a burger bun by a few chefs over the years with mixed results and as an ice cream sandwich bun by paleta purveyor La Newyorkina.
Cosme: NYC – Black Sesame Concha
At Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera’s Manhattan Mexican restaurant Cosme, number 40 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, there’s a pan dulce selection that is made fresh for their brunch menu. The basket usually includes several Mexican breads like the concha, oreja, garibaldi, or bigote. Lately, their conchas have been flavored with black sesame paste, giving them a rich, nutty flavor.