Pan dulce, literally translated to “sweet bread,” is more than a breakfast treat throughout Mexico. With more than 1,600 different types — from cuernitos to conchas — these anytime pastries and breads incorporate the culinary traditions of France and Spain with the creativity of Mexican and Latin American bakers.
Often brightly colored and elaborately flavored, they’re typically found in panderías throughout Mexico, but with Sonoma County’s substantial Latino population, residents can enjoy some of the most authentic pan dulce around, no matter what time of day the craving hits.
So when the craving kicks in, check out the following bakeries.
Super Latino Bakery
Every morning, Gilberto and Raquel Campos and their team of bakers wake up before sunrise in order to have fresh, warm bread ready by their 8 a.m. opening. Their bread is so popular it can be found in stores as far as Ukiah and Fort Bragg. The Campos are from San Antonio Matute, Jalisco, Mexico, where they learned to make the special Mexican cheesecake muffins they bake daily, and the secret recipe cornbread baked every Thursday.
1701 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 527-8302. Open Monday to Monday-Saturday.
Panadería La Tradición
Although this bakery recently changed hands, the bakers remain the same. Martin Moreno Sanchez grew up in Tlaxcala, Mexico, watching his father making pan dulce. He has followed his father’s footsteps and is now the panadería’s head baker, making conchas, puerquitos (pig-shaped cookies) and soft teleras (rolls) that, with cheese and ham, make a perfect lunch.
If you arrive early, you can find La Tradición’s specialty: pan con queso, a combination of cream cheese and jalapeños wrapped in dough and baked until the outside is crispy.
119 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 433-1325. Open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Karina’s Mexican Bakery in Petaluma
Albino Carreno has been baking Mexican bread for the past 18 years at the panadería named for his oldest daughter. A native of Texas de Morelos, Oaxaca, Mexico, he specializes in bread from his home state. One of the favorites is pan fino, fine bread made with anise and egg and usually paired with hot chocolate.
827 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 765-2772. Open 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.
García’s Bakery in Sonoma
Miguel Angel García is another Oaxaca native who decided to enter the pan dulce business in Sonoma County. His technique comes from his father, who started working at bakeries when he was 12. One of García’s specialties is sweet cornbread, available only during corn season.
Those feeling adventurous can try other Oaxacan baked goods: regañadas (which literally translates to scoldings), mil hojas (strudel) and molasas (molasses) among them.
555 Fifth St. W., Sonoma, 931-4695. Open 5 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
This story originally appeared in La Prensa Sonoma.
A few types of popular pan dulce:
Concha: Shell-shaped sweet bread, often pink or yellow, with a distinctive design.
Cuernos (horns): Most similar to a French croissant.
Empanadas (turnovers): Triangle-shaped pastries filled with sweets or meat.
Marranitos or Puerquitos (little pigs): Pig shaped pastries sweetened with piloncillo (a type of sugar) with cinnamon.
Telera: A bread most like a baguette.
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