Puerto Rican creole bread (pan de agua) is warm, crispy and tender. In the island is the best seller every morning at the local bakeries. Bakeries opens at 5am in P.R., and sometime you can see people just waiting at the front door to buy three things, the newspaper, milk and pan de agua (creole bread). Every time we go to P.R. my husband just gets excited to wake up early and go to the bakery and talk with locals while he waits for the fresh bread with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Is a tradition that sadly we lost in the big cities.
Creole bread is similar to French or Italian bread, using almost the same basic ingredients, but the baking procedure is different. Here is a recipe that is simple to make.
5 cups bread flour
2 packs active dry yeast
2 teaspoons of shortening
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Cornmeal or flour for dusting the baking board
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons of water
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, and 1 cup of warm water. Cover the mixture and let stand for about 10 minutes or until the yeast has formed a foam on the top.
- In a separate bowl mix the rest of the water with the shortening until dissolved.
- In another large mixing bowl, mix together the salt and flour.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast a little bit at a time to the flour and then the water with the shortening. As you mix the liquids to the flour, the dough will start to form.
- When all the liquids are added, knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes until it is elastic and no longer sticky. Add the oil simultaneous. *Note: If you use a stand mixer for this recipe, mix together all of the dough ingredients. Knead about 5 minute in low speed it until the dough is soft and elastic.
- Grease a big bowl with some of the olive oil. It can be the one you used to mix the yeast or dough in. Place the ball of kneaded dough into the bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The dough should double in size.
- When the dough is ready, flour a work area and place the dough on it. Divide the dough into two equal portions. With a roller, spread out a portion of the dough into a square. Doesn’t have to be perfect and not to thin. Then with your hands roll the dough to form the baguette. Repeat with the second portion of the dough.
- Sprinkle some cornmeal or flour on a large baking board, or a cookie sheet that will hold both loaves of bread. Cornmeal works better, but flour will do.
- Place the loaves on the board and using a sharp knife place 3 to 4 slashes along the top of the loaves. Let rise for 1 hour more.
- Mix together the egg whites and water. Brush the mixture on top of the loaves of bread.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the loaves on the center rack and let bake for 35 minutes.
- Serve warm with butter and a cup of coffee!! That is Puertorican style!