A Vocabulary Guide: At the Spanish Bakery
Are you hungry to learn what you can find in a Spanish bakery?
Latin America and Spain share a lot of baked goods traditions, names of breads and cakes, and even coffee kinds to pair them up with. In most Hispanic countries (like Mexico, where I’m from), we have more than one word for bakery, such as panadería, pastelería, and repostería.
But what do they mean, exactly?
In this blog post, I lead you through a cultural exploration of a popular, traditional Hispanic treat—pan dulce—as well as many types of Spanish bakeries and what else you’ll find there.
What’s more, learn how to order at the Spanish bakery and get a glimpse of possible conversations you might have with the baker or the clerk!
Additionally, I give tips on how to share your opinions in Spanish with a friend about Mexican bread, cakes, and sweets.
Let’s try this!
Pan Dulce at the Spanish Bakery
Pan dulce is a beloved, traditional treat in Mexico and other Hispanic countries that brings people together and makes them happy. If you are going to a family reunion or a Christmas party and you bring sweet bread, you’ll hit the sweet spot!
It’s versatile as a breakfast sidekick to a cup of coffee, a midnight snack, or a special after-dinner dessert. In fact, it’s almost always present for the sobremesa, which is the quality time people spend together chatting at the table after sharing a meal.
While pan dulce can take a lot of forms, let me introduce you to the best known, mouth-watering pieces!
1. Concha de Vainilla / Concha de Chocolate
Concha means “shell” in English. This traditional Mexican sweet bread resembles a seashell and is made with azúcar (sugar), manteca (butter), and harina (flour). It’s white when made with vainilla (vanilla) and brown when made with chocolate (chocolate).
It’s a local favorite for being tasty, fluffy and delicious!
The literal translation of oreja is “ear,” which comes from its ear-like shape. This is a puff pastry, but it’s crispy, unlike the concha. The oreja has a lot of variants: it can be small (for kids), medium or large. It can be completely or half-dipped in chocolate and normally has almendras picadas (chopped almonds) on top.
While most pan dulce originate from colonial times, garibaldi is a more recent creation. Named after an Italian revolutionary, this delicious treat was created by a local panificadora in Mexico City and has since become exceedingly popular. It’s covered in white or multicolored chochos de azúcar (sugar bits).
4. Ojo de Buey
Also called ojo de pancha, ojo de buey translates to “bull’s eye” because it looks like one. It’s made of two different masas (dough): a consistent, crujiente (crispy) one on the outside and a suave (soft) fluffy one on the inside.
The moño or ribbon is made of sweet masa with levadura (yeast), mantequilla (butter), canela (cinnamon), and nuez picada (chopped nuts).
6. Cochinitos / Puerquitos
Cochinitos or puerquitos are piloncillo, anís (anise), and canela (cinnamon) breads shaped like little pigs. Much like gingerbread, they are sweet and their consistency is somewhere between fluffy and crispy. Since they’re so popular, consider yourself lucky if you find them! They’re perfect to chopear (dip) in coffee, milk, or hot chocolate.
Campechanas are the most dangerous pan dulce of them all. As a pan hojaldrado (puff pastry), it’s light as a feather and rarely sold piece by piece, they’re easy to eat by the kilo!
Campechanas have other names like banderillas and are a common snack. To make a good impression on your next trip to a friend’s house in Mexico, bring at least a dozen upon arrival. No one can resist these sugary, buttery pieces of heaven.
Unlike other panes dulces on this list, these are commonly sold on the streets in plastic packages.
Donas or donuts are a common sweet bread in Mexico. You can find either azúcar (sugar) or chocolate at any panadería. If you want to look for more varieties of flavor, go to a donería, which may be an international chain or a local gourmet donut shop.
The beso, meaning “kiss,” is one of the cutest names for pastries. As you can see, this cookie-like sweet bread has the looks of a closed mouth with red lipstick on. Azúcar glass (powdered sugar) covered sweet bread buns joined together with delicious jam. Yum!
These classic muffins are a mix of leche (milk), aceite (oil), flour, and huevos (eggs) combined with a flavoring of your baker’s choice.
Most often, you can choose from vainilla (vanilla), esencia de naranja (orange essence), ralladura de naranja (orange zest), ralladura de limón (lime zest), canela (cinnamon), and almendras (almonds).
Types of Bakeries in Spanish
Pan dulce isn’t the only sweet treat on the Spanish bakery’s menu!
Different baked items are sold in different kinds of stores in Mexico, especially in smaller towns.
For each type of bakery, we’ll explore the name, its meaning, what they typically sell and how they work.
Panificadora and Panadería
A panificadora is a place where bakers elaborate their craft of making bread—and they may sell the bread here, or not.
Meanwhile, a panadería is a place where clerks sell bread that is made elsewhere and delivered to them early each morning.
While a real difference exists in the meaning of each term, the evolution of language has slowly started to replace the usage of panificadora with panadería.
The likely reason behind this is because panificadora sounds old-fashioned and is somewhat more difficult to remember, even for native speakers. The term panadería, on the other hand, resembles other types of shops that end in –ía, indicating that it sells a particular item, similar to:
- carnicería (butcher shop)
- papelería (stationary store)
- zapatería (shoe shop)
The panificadora and panadería have one thing in common: the delicious baked goods they sell! At either type of shop, you’ll find:
Pan dulce (sweet bread)
- Pan relleno (stuffed bread)
- Pan glaseado (bread with icing)
- Pan de chocolate (chocolate bread)
- Pan con cubierta de chocolate (chocolate covered bread)
- Pan con chispas (bread with sprinkles)
- Galletas (cookies)
Pan salado (salty bread)
- Pan relleno (stuffed bread)
- Pan tostado (toast)
- Pan integral (wholemeal bread)
- Pan de semillas (seed bread)
- Bolillo and Telera (scones)
- Palitos de pan (breadsticks)
As you can see, stuffed bread is in both categories: in pan dulce and pan salado. This is because you can buy bread with a wide range of stuffings, from empanadas that have ham and cheese, tuna, ham and pineapple, or mole, to bolitas de queso (cheese balls) to chocolate and mermelada (jam).
The pastelería is a cake bakery in Spanish that sells all kinds of pasteles (cakes). In Mexico, you can order them by the slice or opt for the whole cake. Next time you visit a Spanish bakery, I suggest you buy a few pieces to try more than one—and to share!
A repostería is a confectionery shop where you can find not only cake but other candy and sweets such as galletas (cookies), budines (puddings), bizcochos (cupcakes, biscuits), cake dough, cream-based desserts like natilla (custard), and fruit-based desserts like helado (ice creams). All of which are artisanally made!
A donería sells donuts and it’s not such a common word for Spanish bakery. In fact, it’s really only known within certain niches like artisanal, specialized, and gourmet bakeries.
Glaseado (meaning “icing” in Spanish bakery) is an important feature of these donuts along with the variety of cubiertas (toppings).
You can choose from a wide range of flavors and ingredients.
Some of the flavors are:
- Fresa (strawberry)
- Caramelo (caramel)
- Cajeta (thickened caramel)
- Cereza (cherry)
- Coco (coconut)
- Galletas con crema (cookies & cream)
- Café (coffee)
- Nuez (nuts)
- Algodón de azúcar (cotton candy)
Toppings depend on the creative nature of each donería as this kind of Spanish bakery is not known for being conventional!
The fact is, their success depends on how original they can be compared to other donut shops. People enjoy these places for new tastes and novel combinations. Some fun toppings include:
- Frutas (fruits)
- Crema batida (whipped cream)
- Hojas de chocolate (chocolate leaves)
- Hojas de vainilla (vanilla leaves)
- Conejitos (chocolate pieces with the shape of rabbits)
- Cereales (cereals, like froot loops)
- Chocoretas (chocolate spheres covered in mint)
- Krankys (chocolate covered cornflakes)
- M&M’s and oreos
- Panditas (gummy bears)
Churros are deep-fried dough pieces that resemble a thick stick. You can find traditional churros—crunchy and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon—at a panadería, but for a taste of other kinds, you’ll want to go to a churrería. There are churrerías in the form of street stalls, small stores, and gourmet cafes. If you ever visit a Hispanic country and want to try a top Spanish bakery, you should expect a fun relaxed time surrounded by churro connoisseurs.
A popular version has a hole inside it typically stuffed with different ingredients like chocolate líquido (liquid chocolate), leche condensada (condensed milk), and crema de avellana (hazelnut cream). Toppings for churros are varied, including chocolate syrup, ground nuts, or sugar sprinkles.
How to Order at the Spanish Bakery
Are you ready to order the treat to satiate your craving at the Spanish bakery?
Ordering at a bakery not only requires that you know the language, but also the traditional ways in which the items are sold. Here are some common best practices that you’ll find within most Mexican bakeries:
- Campechanas are rarely sold by the piece and normally come in packages.
- Churrerías usually sell churros by the piece if they are artisanal or gourmet and by orders of 3, 6, or 12 at more traditional coffee shops and panaderías.
- Some Mexican markets sell deep-fried donuts the size of a silver dollar, served with liquid chocolate. You want to try these!
- If you are not comfortable with exposed bread in the Spanish bakery, don’t worry most of the big ones have a strict hygiene protocol and each piece is wrapped up in plastic.
- Some local panificadoras also make their own jam and sell it. Try it if you get the chance.
Clarifying Questions to Ask
¿De cuántos churros viene la orden?
How many churros are in an order?
¿Tiene mantecadas pequeñas?
Do you have small mantecadas?
¿Cuánto cuesta el paquete de campechanas?
What’s the price of the campechanas package?
¿Los pasteles se venden por rebanada o el pastel completo?
Are cakes sold by the slice or as a whole?
¿De qué sabor son las donas moradas?
What is the flavor of the purple donuts?
¿Cuántos puerquitos le quedan?
How many puerquitos are left?
Placing an Order
Quisiera tres donas sin glaseado por favor.
I would like three donuts with no icing please.
Deme seis rebanadas de pastel pero quítele las fresas de encima.
Give me six slices of cake but take the strawberries off the top.
Queremos cuatro churros rellenos por favor. Dos de leche condensada y dos de cajeta.
We would like four stuffed churros please. Two with condensed milk and two of cajeta.
Cóbreme seis donas de algodón de azúcar con fruta encima.
Charge me for six cotton candy donuts with fruit topping.
Quiero una caja de pan variado.
I want a mixed sweet bread box.
Necesito doble envoltura.
I need double wrapping.
Son dos órdenes separadas.
They are two separate orders.
Spanish Conversation Examples at the Bakery
Cliente: Tiene garibaldis con chispas de colores?
Empleado: No. Sólo hay con chispas blancas.
Cliente: Bueno, entonces deme dos ojos de buey y tres orejas.
Client: Do you have garibaldis with colored sugar chips?
Clerk: No. Only with white sugar chips.
Client: Ok, then give me two ojos de buey and three orejas.
Cliente: ¿Me da una concha?
Empleado: Claro. ¿De qué la quiere? ¿De vainilla o de chocolate?
Cliente: De hecho, deme una de cada una.
Client: Can you give me a concha?
Clerk: Sure. What flavor do you want it? Vanilla or chocolate?
Client: Actually, give me one of each.
Cliente: ¿Qué mermelada tienen los besos?
Empleado: De fresa y frambuesa, ¿quiere uno?
Cliente: Si por favor, de fresa.
Client: What jam is the one in the besos?
Clerk: Strawberry and raspberry, would you like one?
Client: Yes please, the strawberry one.
Cliente: Me cobra una concha de chocolate y un moño?
Empleado: Sí. ¿Quiere puerquitos? Están al 3×2.
Cliente: Sí por favor, gracias.
Client: Can you charge me a chocolate concha and a moño?
Clerk: Sure. Would you like puerquitos? There’s a get 3 buy 2 promotion.
Client: Yes please, thank you.
Express Your Opinion in Spanish
Try expressing your opinion about the items of the Spanish Bakery with these examples. Here are two friends having a conversation after buying different kinds of sweet bread, donuts and churros.
Persona 1: ¿Te gustó el beso?
Persona 2: Creo que es muy dulce para mí.
Persona 1: ¿Por qué no pruebas la mantecada? Es mejor opción porque no es muy dulce.
Persona 2: Gracias pero amé los churros, debí comprar más, estaban deliciosos.
Persona 1: ¿Todavía tienes hambre? Toma una de mis donas, me gustaron mucho.
Persona 2: ¿Compraste alguna sin glaseado? No me gusta.
Persona 1: Sí, compré una con canela y azúcar nada más.
Persona 2: Está perfecto. ¿Deberíamos de comprar más puerquitos? Son mis favoritos.
Persona 1: Absolutamente, compraré también más conchas para mi familia. Ellos aman las de chocolate.
Person 1: Did you like the beso?
Person 2: I think it’s too sweet for me.
Person 1: Why don’t you try the mantecada? It’s a better option since it isn’t that sweet.
Person 2: Thanks but I loved the churros, I should’ve bought more, they were delicious.
Person 1: Are you still hungry? Take one of my donuts, I liked them a lot.
Person 2: Did you buy one without the icing? I don’t like it.
Person 1: Yes, I have one with cinnamon and sugar only.
Person 2: That’s perfect. Should we buy more puerquitos? They are my favorite.
Person 1: Absolutely, I’ll also get some conchas for my family. They love the chocolate ones.
Practice Spanish With a Native Speaker!
I hope you enjoyed this sweet lesson of vocabulary at the Spanish bakery! Improve your Spanish proficiency by practicing with a native Spanish speaker in 1-on-1, student-tailored classes that start at your level. We offer courses for K-12 as well as adults—and high school students can even earn foreign language credits! Sign up for a free class today to practice your conversation skills the fun way!
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