I first tried pan de coco, the humble Dominican coconut bread in its birthtplace: the gorgeous Samaná. Better enjoyed under the shade of a coconut tree in Playa Rincón beach, you can try this easy, uncomplicated recipe at home as a second-best choice.
Why we ❤️ it
Years ago, when Aunt Ilana traveled to Samaná so often that she was practically a resident, she came back from one of her trips with a culinary "discovery".
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.
Culture and history
Upon hearing the news I was very intrigued. With this as an excuse, we left for Samaná. In Playa Rincón, one of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen, we met Franca, a lady who made her living by selling the pan de coco (Samana-style coconut bread).
We bought about half of what she was carrying (for scientific purposes!), 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.
This pan de coco bread recipe can only be found in Samana, the coconut capital of the Dominican Republic, and it's a popular fare with street vendors.
Pan de coco bread.
About this recipe
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. 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).
Let me warn you that, unlike leavened coconut bread, this is leavened with baking powder and it makes it more dense and heavy than traditional bread.
Although I am fairly confident she will never read this, I nevertheless would like to thank Franca in Playa Rincón, Samaná for sharing her recipe with me.
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Pan de Coco Recipe (Dominican Coconut Bread from Samana)
- Prepare: Oil a baking tray with half the oil, reserve the rest. Pre-heat oven to 300 ºF (150 ºC)
- Combine: In the mixer bowl mix flour, coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, salt, baking soda, 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).
- Form: Divide the dough into six portions and make them 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: Cook the bread in the preheated oven 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.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Published: Apr 26, 2011