The aroma of freshly baked bread is irresistible. It’s especially overpowering to the senses when the baked goodie is a sweet puffy creation, like Mexico’s pan dulce. One writer describes this heavenly piece of bread as so alluring that they’d bit into one right after leaving a panaderia in LA.
A panaderia is a Mexican bakery, but Spain and Latin America countries also call their bakeries as panaderias, reposterias (pastry shops) and pastelerias (cake shops). As you can see, only panaderia translates to “bakery” since all other terms for shops that sell baked goods are specific to sweets, from pastries to cakes.
So if you were traveling to Spain and wanted some bread for breakfast, a Spanish bakery would be called a panaderia. But do you only get the typical or traditional bread at panaderias?
What’s Sold in a Panaderia?
Some of the usual breads you’ll find in a Mexican bakery are:
Pan de Acambaro
It’s made from fermented dough, masa madre (mother dough). The bread originated in Acambaro, Guanajuato.
This Mexican bread is like the French baguette, with its crispy crust and soft crumb. But it’s shape like a football.
A traditional panaderia will also have the beloved Mexican treat: pan dulce. Pan dulce is one of many sweet breads you can get at Spanish and Mexican bakeries. It’s not just one type of baked treat; it has several varieties:
Rosca de Reyes
It’s a yeasted bread with a hidden surprise in the ring-shaped dough: a baby Jesus figurine (or figurines). The sweet bread is eaten during the Dia de los Reyes Magos, a festival that celebrates the Three Kings. And that explains the baby Jesus figurines. The pan dulce is sprinkled with acitrón (crystalized biznaga cactus) and sugar-crystalized fruit.
This pan dulce has two domes rolled in sugar and shredded coconut with a jelly filling.
Much like the besos, yoyo is also like a sweet sandwich but with an apple filling. The outside is coated with strawberry jam and shredded coconut. It also happens to look like a yoyo, which explains the name.
A traditional cinnamon bread with a vanilla or sometimes, Bavarian cream and then sprinkled with powdered sugar.
One of the most popular pan dulces made from maza de bizcocho, topped with flour, shortening and sugar, which are made to look like seashells. It comes in different flavors, from vanilla to chocolate. Wherever you go in Mexico, you’ll be able to grab a concha and dip it into hot cocoa or savor it on its own.
It’s a cookie that’s crumbly and airy, and shaped like its namesake. But the elote is different from pan de elote. This baked goodie also comes as a bread: pan de elote.
It’s a pound cake, shaped like a muffin.
These are puff pastries with cinnamon sugar and shaped like an ear.
Roles de Canela
The rolese de canela is Mexico’s version of the always appetizing cinnamon roll. Except the roles has less frosting.
Pan de Muerto
Panaderias only make these during the Day of the Dead. Pan de Muertos are used as offerings at gravesites or altars at home. The sweet bread is rolled and topped with sugar, decorated with dough shaped like bones.
What are Traditional Mexican Pastries?
Traveling for leisure or moving to a new country for work, eating like a local is essential. And when you’ve chosen Mexico as your destination, traditional pastries are a must-try. But what baked goods can you get?
In addition to the pan dulces mentioned above, try the following traditional Mexican pastries:
These shortbread cookies are made specifically for weddings, which is they’re also called Mexican wedding cookies. These pastries are made with chopped nuts and topped with sugar. In Spanish bakeries, this pastry is called galletas de boda and smaller than their Mexican counterpart.
Deep fried and sweet, what could be more tempting than the sopaipillas. These light, sweet puff pastries are deep fried and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar or served with honey.
Tres Leches Cake
Technically a cake and not a pastry, the traditional tres leches is light and airy — and true to its name, uses three types of milk: condensed, evaporated and cream.
Light, sweet and caramelized, the flan is a classic Mexican dessert.
Across the globe, you’ll find several versions of the turnover (or empanada). Most are savory, with meat and cheese fillings. But others are sweet, like Mexico’s empanadas, which are typically filled with fruits, like pineapple and sometimes pumpkin.
The Sweet Flavors of Mexico
Most travelers may be familiar with Mexican food, from tacos and quesadillas to carne asadas and burritos. But not many may have tasted the delectable and tempting morsels of desserts that are enjoyed by Mexicans.
And you don’t even have to travel far to get a taste of pan dulces. Your neighborhood may have its own panaderia. Duck in one morning and pick up a bolillo to toast, a few conchas for afternoon tea or coffee break and a box of tres leches for a rich dessert after dinner.