Introduction: Turtle Bread: Tortuga Conchas

Mmmm…pan dulce (sweet bread). If you’ve ever set foot in a panaderia (Mexican Bakery) you’ve surely seen the traditional concha among the wide selection of pastries and sweet treats. The concha is probably the most iconic of all the pan dulces. These fluffy domes of bread, covered in streusel-like toppings, look kind of like shells- hence the name, concha (translation: shell). I wanted to make something different from the traditional shell, so I decided to change things up a little and make my conchas with a turtle twist!



  • ½ cup Water (warm)
  • 2 ¼ tsp Yeast
  • ¾ cup Milk (warm)
  • 1/3 cup Butter (melted)
  • 2 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 4 cups Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Salt


  • ½ cup Butter
  • ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Flour
  • Food Coloring (optional)

Mini Chocolate Chips

Step 1: Bread: Wet Ingredients

  1. In a small bowl or large cup, dissolve yeast in warm water.
  2. Stir in warm milk, melted butter, and room temperature eggs.

Step 2: Bread: Dry Ingredients

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Form a small well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the well.
  4. Mix with a utensil until the dough becomes solid enough to handle with your hands.
  5. Knead for 8 minutes.
  6. Place dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.

Step 3: Topping

    If you want a colored topping, start by mixing food coloring into melted butter.

    1. Pour sugar into a bowl.
    2. Add melted butter to sugar and mix with a fork until combined.
    3. Add flour and mix until you get large clumps.
    4. Even though it looks crumbly, you should be able to pick it up with your hands and form it into a large ball.
    5. Place the topping into a plastic bag, or wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

    Step 4: Dough

    1. Divide the dough into 16 pieces, 12 of those pieces with be bodies and the remaining 4 will be used to make the heads and legs.
    2. Take 12 of the pieces for the bodies and roll them into round balls.
    3. For the 4 remaining pieces of dough 2 will be for making heads and 2 will be for legs, each can make 6 heads or 12 legs.
    4. To make the legs, cut each of the 2 dough pieces into 12 smaller pieces like in the photo; 5 cuts across and then one cut in half.
    5. To make the heads, cut each of the 2 of the dough pieces into 6 smaller pieces; 2 cuts across and then one cut in half. Roll the pieces into balls.
    6. Distribute the bodies onto a baking sheet. Don’t put more than 6 turtles on a sheet and leave a few inches of space between each turtle. If you place them too close to each other you’ll end up with a creepy turtle centipede.
    7. Attach heads and legs by tucking one end of each under the body; for the head it’s best to pinch one end down to make it flat and tuck the flattened part underneath the body.
    8. Once assembled, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 15 minutes while you make the shells.

    Step 5: Shells

    The topping may be crumbly when you remove it from the fridge. Just knead it with your hands for a few seconds and it should return to a workable consistency.

    1. To make a shell, form a ball using a little bit more than a tbsp of dough.
    2. Place it in between two pieces of plastic wrap.
    3. Squish down with a plate or cutting board to create a small disc.
    4. Score it with a knife in a crisscross pattern or use a cookie cutter to create the turtle shell design. Be gentle and make sure not to cut all the way through. If you mess up just form a new ball and try again.
    5. Use a spatula to move your shells from your working surface to the backs of the turtles.
    6. Once the turtles have their shells cover them and let them sit for 15 minutes.
    7. While you wait, preheat oven to 375.

    Step 6: Bake

    1. Bake for 13 minutes or until golden brown.
    2. Remove from baking sheet and let cool.
    3. Press mini chocolate chips into the heads for eyes.
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