‘Sea shells‘

‘Sea shells‘


My Abuelo's Mexican Feast

These sweet buns are named after sea shells because of their shape. They have a delicious, crumbly sweet topping that always reminds me of tiger stripes. One of my favourite memories as a child is of sharing conchas with my Abuelo over a mug of Mexican hot chocolate. It wasn‘t uncommon for this to be dinner – sweet breads are a typical light meal before bed in Mexico. This recipe departs from tradition in that it calls for powdered cake mix, a secret ingredient added by my mum that makes preparation easier and tastes great!


Quantity Ingredient
160g self-raising flour
340g buttercake cake mix
1 teaspoon dried yeast, dissolved in 60 ml warm water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g sugar
65g coconut cream powder
120g butter, melted

For the topping

Quantity Ingredient
100g plain flour
100g icing sugar
pinch salt
100g butter, at room temperature
50ml water
1 drop red colouring, for pink icing
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for chocolate icing


  1. Mix the self-raising flour and cake mix in a bowl. Place half the mix on a clean work surface and make a well in the centre. Gently add the remaining ingredients to the mix, except the butter and the rest of the flour/cake mix, and gradually combine with your hands until a sticky dough is formed.
  2. Gradually add the butter and remaining flour/cake mix and combine with your hands until the dough is glossy and elastic. Knead vigorously, bashing the dough on the work surface a few times, for 15 minutes, until bubbles appear under the surface of the dough.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Punch the dough down and knead slightly to form a ball, cover again and leave to rest for a further 2–4 hours. At this point the dough can be placed in the refrigerator and baked the next day if you like.
  5. When the concha dough is ready to use, roll pieces into peach-sized balls with your palms and place them on greased baking trays, leaving room between them.
  6. Flatten each concha lightly. Cover the tray with baking paper and set aside for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 210°C.
  8. To make the topping, combine the flour, icing sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Using your fingers, mix in the butter and water, alternately, a little bit at a time until the mixture forms a dough that holds its shape. At this stage you can add a teaspoon of red food colouring or cocoa powder (add to just half of the mixture if you‘d like to create two different toppings).
  9. Form small apricot-sized balls of the topping mixture. Using a rolling pin, roll out between 2 pieces of baking paper until they resemble small, thin tortillas, around 10 cm in diameter.
  10. Peel the topping rounds off the paper and place on top of each concha. Using a sharp knife, cut lines into the topping, avoiding the concha dough (otherwise it will deflate). You can make different designs if you want, but the traditional markings are lines resembling the lines of a sea shell.
  11. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for 5 minutes. These conchas are best enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate! Conchas store well in a paper bag for 2–3 days. They can also be frozen (for up to 2 months) and thawed at room temperature when ready to eat. Do not attempt to defrost them in the microwave, though, as the topping will melt!
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again