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This sweet and tender semita bread is designed to be eaten with your morning café de olla or a cold glass of your favorite plant-milk. Piloncillo, raisins, cinnamon, orange zest, and anise are studded throughout the semita, making it an incredibly fragrant and delicious Mexican pan dulce.

Flour, water, yeast in a large stainless steel bowl

Origin of Semita Bread

In the 16th century, a group of Semitic Jews came to the new world, brought by Luis de Carvajal y de la Cueva to settle what is now the state of Nuevo Leon, escaping the Spanish Inquisition that was in full force at the time. This Jewish community colonized the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and parts of what is now Texas, and continued to practice their faith in secret. It is thought that this community ate bread during Passover very similar to what we consider semita bread now, with the exception of the piloncillo and raisins. The origin of this bread, however, can be traced back to Spain and Islamic North Africa.

Dough for semita bread mixed in a stainless steel bowl

Semita vs. Cemita

Semita is not the same as cemita, and to confuse things even more sometimes they are both spelled the same. Semita is the sweet bread recipe I have for you today, made with piloncillo, raisins, and sometimes nuts. Cemita is a savory roll, with sesame seeds on top, that is used to make tortas, huge tortas that are very famous in Puebla.

ball of dough in a stainless steel bowl with dough hook in it

Our Vegan Mexico Project

This recipe is part of an amazing project called Our Vegan Mexico, where 32 talented cooks will be showcasing, right here on Dora’s Table, 32 vegan Mexican recipes. Each recipe will be representing one state of the Mexican union.

dough hook stretching the dough to show the texture

With this project, I am hoping to encourage the Mexican community in the U.S., and the people of my country to take a chance and make the change to a plant-based diet. This recipe, which is representing the state of Chihuahua, is the creation of the talented Liliana Arellanes from @veganocosmico and here she is sharing her story with us.

Ball of dough resting in a stainless steel bowl

Liliana’s Story

My Name is Liliana Arellanes; I am from Chihuahua Mexico but have been living in Los Angeles, CA for the last 30 years. My path to Veganism began 25 years ago, for two fundamental reasons, respect, and compassion for all living beings, and respect for myself. Understanding above all, that it is not necessary to kill another living being in order to eat. In this way, we will be nourishing ourselves with Light and not death.

Pecans, raisins, orange zest and pilincillo are added to the dough in the bowl

 

I share the recipe of the famous “CHORREADAS DE PILONCILLO” a typical bread of the region, with a delicious flavor reminiscent of “small town” comfort food. I have added my personal touch, with raisins, nuts, and fragrant orange zest. It is an exquisite handmade sweet bread, with a spongy crumb that you can enjoy fresh out of the oven with a café de olla or a glass of almond milk.

 

dough mixed well and shaped into a ball again

The Recipe: Mexican Semita Bread (Semitas Chorreadas)

  • These semitas are the best when eaten still warm right out of the oven. If you eat them the next day be sure to warm them up before eating.
  • You can use ½ whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour to substitute the bread flour.

four balls of dough on a parchment lined sheet tray

  • The nuts and raisins are optional, but I think they add a special touch.
  • You can substitute the coconut butter with vegan butter.
  • You can use plant milk instead of water in the recipe, just make sure it’s warm.

basket of mexican semita bread and a white plate with slices of semita

a closeup of a piece of semita bread being held in a hand

Three mexican semita bread rolls in a basket on a light blue background
5 from 3 votes
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Mexican Semita Bread (Semitas Chorreadas)

Mexican Semita Bread, studded with pecans, raisins, orange zest and piloncillo.

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword pan dulce, semita bread, vegan mexican breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 4 Medium sized rolls
824 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cup Bread flour
  • ½ cup Dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Ground anise seed
  • 1 tsp Freshly ground cinnamon (Ceylon)
  • 1/3 cup Coconut butter, about 3 oz
  • 1 ½ cups Warm water
  • ½ cup Chopped pecans
  • ½ cup Raisins, soaked in the juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • 1 tsp. Active dry yeast
  • 3.5 oz Piloncillo (about ½ cup)
  • ½ tsp. Salt

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, yeast, and salt
  2. Add the warm water and coconut butter to the bowl and knead.
  3. I use the hook attachment on my mixer at medium-low speed for 4-6 minutes or until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  4. If you don’t have a mixer you can knead by hand for 10 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.
  6. To prepare your piloncillo, place it in a plastic bag, and crush it with the help of a hammer until finely ground.
  7. Separate the crushed piloncillo un half. Place half of the piloncillo in a small bowl and mix with 1 tsp. Flour. This will be used to top the semitas before baking.
  8. Once the dough is done rising, add the reaming half of the piloncillo, pecans, and orange zest and knead until all the ingredients are mixed evenly throughout.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  10. Divide the dough in four, roll the pieces tightly into rounds, and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly. Brush the rounds with your favorite plant milk, and top with the piloncillo and flour mixture. Press down slightly on the piloncillo topping with your hands.
  11. Cover the sheet tray with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.

Chef's Notes

  • These semitas are the best when eaten still warm right out of the oven. If you eat them the next day be sure to warm them up before eating.
  •  You can use ½ whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour to substitute the bread flour.
  • The nuts and raisins are optional, but I think they add a special touch.
  • You can substitute the coconut butter with vegan butter.
  • You can use plant milk instead of water in the recipe, just make sure it’s warm.
Nutrition Facts
Mexican Semita Bread (Semitas Chorreadas)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 824 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 29%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Sodium 263mg 11%
Potassium 381mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 149g 50%
Dietary Fiber 8g 32%
Sugars 50g
Protein 16g 32%
Vitamin C 3.8%
Calcium 8.2%
Iron 17.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Just so you know, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and may collect a share from the links on this page.

Vegan conchas, tender enriched yeast rolls topped with a crunchy cookie topping, and one of the most iconic varieties of pan dulce. Concha translates into seashell, which is exactly what this sweet bread resembles. Let me tell you, trying to make an amazing vegan concha recipe had me almost pulling my hair out!

Yeast and milk to make a vegan concha recipe

The problem was substituting the eggs. First I tried just omitting the eggs, which worked, but resulted in a dry concha. Then I tried almost every egg substitute so could think of aquafaba, flax, chia, you name it, I tried it. None of them worked like I wanted them too.

Sweet potato added to yeast

Mix sweet potato with a small whisk.

My kids absolutely loved this whole process. Eating one concha after another, giving me their honest opinion with sugar crumbs all over their tiny hands.

Add wet ingredients to dry to make vegan concha recipe

 

I almost gave up. “ I guess you can’t have everything in life,” I thought to myself. Until I tried something completely unexpected, sweet potato. Sweet potato provided just the right amount of binding and moisture my concha needed!!!

Kneaded dough to make vegan concha recipe

Risen dough to make vegan concha recipe

After this I had a little trial and error with the topping, testing out versions made with powdered sugar and shortening, and others made with granulated sugar and vegan butter. Until the most authentic Mexican vegan concha you’ve ever had came to fruition.

Balls of dough to make vegan concha recipe

Topping dough in white and hot pink colors

I had a friend on Instagram tell me that her grandma had said, that the only thing keeping her from going vegan was there thought of never having a good concha again. So hopefully this is the concha recipe that is going to convince all our abuelitas to go vegan!

 

Topping to make vegan concha recipe pressed between plastic wrap

Topping placed on top of vegan concha

The Recipe: Vegan Conchas

  • You can still make this even if you don’t have a standing mixer with a hook, you’re just going to get a good arm workout.
  • Bread flour is the best flour for this recipe. If you use another type of flour the amount of liquid you need will change.
  • You can use a knife to make the concha design if you don’t have a concha cutter .
  • You can make the topping any color you like by adding 3-5 drops of food coloring.
  • You can use the plant-milk of your choice as long as it’s unsweetened, but I found that soy milk works best.

Vegan concha recipe rising

A basket of vegan conchas with coffee

 

A basket of vegan conchas with coffee
5 from 9 votes
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The Best Vegan Concha Recipe

The best vegan concha recipe, tender enriched yeast rolls topped with a crunchy cookie topping. Try this iconic pan dulce.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword pan dulce, vegan concha
Total Time 1 day
Servings 10 Mini conchas
334 kcal
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. (7 g.) Active Dry yeast
  • ½ + 1/8 cup (130 ml) Soy milk, room temp
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp. (298 g.) Bread flour
  • ½ cup (78 g.) Sugar, granulated
  • ½ tsp. (2.8 g.) Salt
  • 1/3 cup (85 g.) Cooked, mashed, sweet potato
  • ½ cup (113 g.) Vegan butter (earth balance), cut into cubes, softened

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup Sugar granulated
  • 1/3 cup Vegan butter, earth balance, softened
  • ½ cup All-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Ground cinnamon (optional)

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the soy milk. Let sit 5 minutes.

  2. In the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients: the flour, salt, and sugar. Mix.
  3. Add the mashed sweet potato to the yeast-milk mixture, and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dough begins to incorporate, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the softened butter little by little and increase speed to medium. Mix for 15 min. until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is smooth and stretchy, but not sticky. (If the dough is too sticky add a little more flour.)
  6. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and fold the side over unto each other and flip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  7. The next day take the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (70-75F) until the dough comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  8. Divide the dough into 10 pieces weighing about 2.5 oz (70 g.), and set aside, roll them tightly into rounds and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds to form a dome shape.
  9. Make topping: Cream butter and sugar with a whisk or hand mixer. Add vanilla, flour, and cinnamon and mix well. Knead lightly to fully incorporate. It should have the consistency of a soft play-dough. If it’s too sticky or wet add flour in small amounts until you’ve reached the right consistency.
  10. Divide topping into 10 balls the size of a large gum-ball. Take two sheet of plastic wrap, and one at a time place a ball of the topping between the two plastic sheets and press down with hand until it is large enough to cover the top of concha.

  11. Peel one side of the plastic wrap off, then take the piece of plastic wrap with the topping on it and place it down on the concha. Slowly peel of the plastic wrap. Repeat this process until all 10 conchas are done.

  12. Using a concha cutter, dusted with flour, press down on the topping and the concha to make the design. (Don’t be afraid to press down hard and flatten the concha a little.)

  13. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  14. Let conchas rise for 40 min. in a warm place (70- 75F) or until doubled in size.

  15. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 -25 min. or until the sides and bottoms of your conchas are golden brown.

  16. Let bread cool completely before eating.

Chef's Notes

You can use a knife to make the concha design if you don’t have a concha cutter . Bread flour is the best flour for this recipe, if you use any other kind of flour you will have to modify the amount of soymilk. You can make the topping any color you like by adding 3-5 drops of food coloring. You can use the plant-milk of your choice as long as it’s unsweetened, but I found that soy milk works best. Recipe adapted from Fanny Gerson’s My Sweet Mexico

Nutrition Facts
The Best Vegan Concha Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 334 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Sodium 223mg 9%
Potassium 103mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 55g 18%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 19g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 30.3%
Vitamin C 1.9%
Calcium 1.3%
Iron 4.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you’re looking for more vegan pan dulce you can try this pan de muerto, marranitos, and hojarascas. 

Who knew death could be so colorful? Purple and orange tissue paper banners line altars decorated with marigold petals, colorful sugar skulls, and a bounty of fruit and vegetables. This is a celebration of life and triumph over death, the intermingling of the religious beliefs of the indigenous people of Mexico and the faith of the Spaniards that conquered them. The Day of the Dead is not only a holiday that honors those who have left us, but it is believed that on that special day the souls of the dead return to visit the living. Both the indigenous people and the Church of the Spaniards believed that death was not an end, but only a passageway to another life. That is why this is a joyous occasion, a homecoming festival, and at the same time a way to mock death and the power it holds over our bodies.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, the Aztecs held rituals for the dead during the summer months in a joint celebration with the first days of harvest. The dead were traditionally buried with rich offering of ceramics, personal objects, and food. The offerings where meant to assist them in their journey to the afterlife. After the arrival of the Catholic missionaries their traditions and beliefs were merged with those of the indigenous people, and the festivities were moved to coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Nov 1st and Nov 2nd.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

 

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

The festivities have evolved over the years and differ from region to region. Some of the most popular ones include altars in honor of loved ones who have passed, preparing the dead’s favorite foods, and gathering at the cemetery to decorate a loved one’s grave, share a meal and reminiscence. My favorite tradition is the elaboration of the altars. The symbolism incorporated into the altars is so rich and meaningful that it truly honors the dead, those we keep in our hearts, but somehow with the passing of time fade in our memories.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every altar has several key symbols which are:

water– as an offering to the soul to quench their thirst in their long journey

salt– as a symbol of purification and to preserve the body so it will not wither

fire– to represent the light of the faith and guide the spirits in their journey

incense– to elevate our prayers to God in heaven

flowers– marigolds, their color represents the radiance of sunlight and life

bread– as a symbol of the body of Christ, usually round loaves with topped with “bones” and known as pan de muerto

a picture of the person who the altar is dedicated to

religious images– to symbolize God as an intermediary between the living and the dead

the favorite foods and drinks of the departed– to delight the souls who will be visiting (the most common being Mexican hot chocolate, tequila, atole, mole, tortillas and rice

candy skulls– the indigenous held the skull as symbol of death being a part of life

tissue paper banners– purple to symbolize christian mourning and orange to symbolize Aztec mourning

fruits and vegetables– an offering from the earth

personal objects of the person being honored– to accompany them on their journey back

a dog– to protect and guide the spirits.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every year we make an altar in our home to a loved one lost. It is our own special way of introducing our deceased loved ones to our children. We talk about the things that they liked to eat, do, and why they are important to us. On November 2nd we say a prayer for them, and keep hoping for the day we will be reunited in the afterlife. For years now, we have also been attending the Day of the Dead Festival in Oceanside, CA. The festival takes place in the Mission San Luis Rey. There are a variety of traditional foods such as tamales, tacos, tortas, aguas frescas, and pan de muerto. There is also face painting, sugar skull decorating, and regional dances. However, the highlight of the festival is the showcase of the altars, some representing various Mexican states and built by whole communities and families.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Out of all the wonderful Mexican traditions, the Day of the Dead might be the one that still holds firm to its pre-Hispanic roots. The loved ones lost, who we cannot see or hear, make themselves present in our homes, share our food, and partake in the rejoicing of life and the conquest of death.

Sources:

Los Dias de Los Muertos, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of American History, 2010

Simbolismos en el altar del Dia de los Muertos, Tanatologa Aida Maria Castro Morales, 2007 (http://www.slideshare.net/internatoni/simbolismos-en-el-altar-del-da-de-muertos)

The Recipe: Vegan Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

This recipe might be better than the non-vegan version, according to my husband. I have substituted the eggs with potatoes, resulting in a moist, soft, and sweet bread. It is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee.

pan-de-muerto2

Bake at 350F for 40- 45 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

pan de muerto

 

pan de muerto
5 from 5 votes
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Vegan Day of the Dead Bread

This vegan day of the dead bread or pan de muerto is tender, sweet, and delicious. Perfect for dipping on hot chocolate.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword day of the dead, pan de muerto, vegan
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 day 45 minutes
Servings 4 loaves
Author Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (.25 oz) Active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (3.5 oz) Almond milk, room temperature, 3.5 oz
  • 3 1/3 cup (17.5 oz) Bread flour
  • ¾ cup (5.5 oz) Sugar, granulated
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • ¼ cup Orange juice
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) Potato, Yukon gold, cooked, mashed
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. (4 ¼ oz.) Vegan butter room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces,

Topping

  • 2 tbsp. Vegan butter, melted
  • ½ cup Sugar, granulated

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the almond milk and add 2 tbsp. of the flour. Whisk to incorporate and let rest in a warm place for 20 min.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients: the rest of the flour, salt, sugar, and orange zest. Mix.
  3. Add the wet ingredients: the orange juice, mashed potato, and yeast-flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to incorporate.
  4. Add the ½ cup + 1 tbsp. of softened butter little by little and increase speed to medium. Mix for 15 min. until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and fold the side over unto each other and flip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day take the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (70-75F) until the dough comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  7. Take a piece of dough, weighing about 3 oz., and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into four pieces. Roll them tightly into rounds and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly.
  8. Use the reserved dough to make 4 small balls the size of a quarter and set aside. Use the remaining dough to roll out eight strips long enough to cover the rounds. Place two strips on top of each round forming an x, use your fingers to press lightly on the strips to form knobs, they should resemble bones. Repeat the process with the rest of the rounds.
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 ½ hrs. in a warm place (70- 75F) or until double in size.
  10. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F. Place the small balls in the center of the rounds with a little bit of water. Bake for 20-30 min. until the rounds have become a rich brown color. Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 min. more, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190F. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
  11. While the bread is still warm melt 2 tbsp. of butter and brush the bread with it. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  12. Let bread completely cool before eating.

Recipe Video

Chef's Notes

My favorite vegan butter is Earth Balance. This recipe is a combination of my dad’s recipe and Fanny Gerson’s method for Pan de Muerto in My Sweet Mexico.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.