A little ago I re-posted the recipe for pan de coco, the obscure recipe we dug up in some corner of Samana. While making the bread I wondered if I could try it with yeast as opposed to the baking soda in the original. As soon as it occurred to me I started my test.
I am glad to report that there were no explosions in our kitchen; better yet, the bread turned out surprisingly good.
The original coconut bread is unleavened, and pretty dense. That works nicely if you use it to accompany something with a lot of sauce, you just scoop it with the bread. I love bread-making, so for me adapting the recipe to make leavened bread was just a natural step.
Another advantage of making this bread with yeast is that, as with all leavened bread, you get a lot more bang for your buck, so to speak. While the same amount of ingredients yield 4 breads in the original recipe, it yields twice as much with the addition of yeast.
This is perfect to serve for breakfast; it tastes lovely with just butter or jam, of course you are free to experiment.
Something important to remember is that the success of this recipe depends on the quality and freshness of the yeast. Make sure you have fresh, good quality yeast. Unfortunately I have had spotty results with the local brand. A couple of years ago I bought a brick of instant yeast online and I keep it refrigerated. It is still as good today as the first day.
Recipe: Pan de coco levado (Leavened coconut bread)
This adaptation of the traditional pan de coco from Samaná is perfect for a tropical-inspired breakfast or a light dinner. This is probably the easiest-to-make leavened bread I have made so far.
I tried doing it both by hand and with the bread machine and both worked, but it is a lot easier with the bread machine.
Preparation: 1 hour
Cooking: 20 min
Time total: 1 hour 20 min
Yields: 8 buns
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional)
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 egg
Before starting: Oil a baking tray. Pre-heat oven to 300ºF (150ºC)
- Mix yeast, 1/3 cup lukewarm water and sugar. Cover with a clean, dark cloth for 10 minutes. The mix should be foamy on top, otherwise your yeast is dead and you need to get fresh yeast.
- In a deep bowl mix flour, coconut milk, salt and the yeast mixture
- If you have a bread-making machine put the mixture in the knead cycle for 10 minutes, otherwise proceed to following step.
- If you do not have a bread-making machine, flour a clean surface. Cover your hands with some oil and knead the dough for about 10 minutes (it should be somewhat-shaggy, hence the oiled hands). If is it is too sticky add some more flour by the spoonful, don’t overdo it though, remember this is not a firm dough.
- Make the dough into a ball and let it rest on the oiled tray covered with a clean cloth until it doubles (it may take 35 to 70 mins depending on a number of things).
- Put the doubled dough on a floured surface and knead lightly to remove the excess bubbles (no more than a minute). Divide the dough into 8 portions and make into balls. On an oiled baking sheet let the balls rest covered with a clean cloth until they double.
- Make an egg wash by stirring the egg with a wire whisk. Paint the bread with the eggwash.
- Cover the top with the coconut flakes.
- Bake bread for 15 to 20 minutes (it should be dark golden outside).