Soft and sweet, this treat is perfect to celebrate El Día de los Muertos!

For the Dough:

Ingredients for pan dulce. The can of coconut milk is hidden--make sure to shake it first really well.

Ingredients for pan dulce. The can of coconut milk is hidden–make sure to shake it first really well.

2/3 cup lukewarm water

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar

5 tablespoons vegetable shortening

½ cup coconut milk (or another non-dairy alternative)

3.5 cups flour

1 tsp salt


For the Topping:

1/3 cup sugar (finely ground works best, but crystals work too, for a bit of crunch)

5 tablespoons vegetable shortening

½ cup flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

natural food coloring (in pastel shades)



Set oven to 350 F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Stir gently and let rest for 5-7 minutes.

Add the vegetable shortening and stir until dissolved. Then add the coconut milk. Add the salt and the flour, little-by-little, and then knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel or with plastic wrap. Make sure the bowl is in a warm location. Since my oven gives off a lot of heat, I always keep my bowl on the counter, near enough to get some of that warmth without beginning the bake. Let the dough rest for about an hour (or until the dough has doubled in size).

Punch down the dough and divide it into about 12 equal balls (about 1-1.5 inch in diameter). Place them about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with towel again to rest for at least a half an hour.

Make the sugar topping while you wait. Mix together the sugar, shortening, flour, and vanilla. Separate the sugar topping in different bowls so you can have multiple colors. Form into 12 sugar balls.

Cover each of the dough balls with a sugar topping ball. Press the sugar ball onto the dough, covering the top. Cut your design/slits into the sugar (and only the sugar) with a knife.

Let them rest, covered for about 25 minutes (or else you’ll end up with flat conchas). Bake for about 15 minutes. The bottoms will be golden/brown.

These taste best after they’ve cooled a bit.