Years ago, when Aunt Ilana travelled to Samaná so often that she was practically a resident, she came back from one of her trips with a culinary discovery. Starting now read this post in your head in the voice of Sir David Attenborough, go ahead, it’s very amusing.
Aunt Ilana’s great discovery? Pan de coco (coconut bread). This thick, unleavened bread was sold by street vendors in some remote campo of Samaná. Unfortunately, although she got to try it, she could not get the recipe for it.
Upon hearing the news I was very intrigued. With this as an excuse we set sail for Samaná. OK, we didn’t set sail, we just drove there.
After a night of rest following the long trip (because of the many stops we made to sample the culinary treasures of the stunningly beautiful Samaná) next day I donned my safari outfit and we headed out for the wilderness in search of this most-elusive beast (read “we dressed in shorts and drove to the beach”).
In Playa Rincón, one of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen, we met a lady who made her living from selling pan de coco (coconut bread). We bought about half of what she was carrying, and after we offered her a ride back home – so she could avoid the long walk out of the secluded beach – I got a lesson on how to make Pan de Coco. Although I am confident she will not read this, I nevertheless would like to thank Franca in Playa Rincón, Samaná for sharing her recipe with us.
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to oil baking tray and hands
- 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons of coconut oil to add to the dough
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)
Oil a baking tray with half the oil, reserve the rest. Pre-heat oven to 300 ºF (150 ºC)
In the mixer bowl mix flour, coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, salt and baking powder.
Knead using the hook attachment of the mixer, or by hand with a spatula and finish it with your hands. You will need to oil your hands as the dough will be very sticky (it should be somewhat-shaggy, hence the oiled hands).
Divide the dough into six portions and make into balls.
On an oiled baking sheet flatten the balls into circles of approximately 6" [10 cm] in diameter.
Cover the top with the coconut flakes.
Bake bread for 25 minutes, pinch with a skewer in the center to check for doneness (they will still be pale).
When the bread cools down to room temperature toast quickly but at a very high temperature to get the golden brown color on top.
The original recipe did not include the coconut crust on top, this is an experiment of mine that I ended up liking, as it adds another layer of texture to the bread. Take into consideration that, because it is unleavened, the bread is pretty "heavy", it is best served with fish or meat with a lot of sauce, as this is best used to scoop it and clean your plate.
I tried doing it both by hand and with the mixer and both worked, but it is a lot easier with the mixer (and quicker as it only needed about a minute of kneading).