Updated: Apr 1, 2020
I have so many fond memories of sitting around the dinner table with my family in Honduras. The intoxicating aromas of soups, yuca, roasted meats, filling the room as plate after plate are passed around with gusto. And then there is this unassuming dense little coconut roll on the side being dipped into a variety of sauces until you are left positively bursting.
That dense little bread is one of the most wonderful things you can eat when you visit Honduras. Pan de Coco is a classic bread that can be found in most households, on the streets, and in the markets in Honduras. This is without a doubt my all-time favorite bread to eat, especially when it's warm out of the oven. I like to top mine with shredded coconut to add a nice toasted flavor and texture.
This bread will be soft enough to pull apart when it comes out of the oven so don't miss out on eating it warm. Traditionally not too sweet, this bread is usually served with different soups and beans. In fact, once upon a time it was not even leavened at all. My version, however, is different in both of those regards, as I like to sweeten it up just a tad and also I enjoy a much fluffier, softer version than what you might traditionally find. I'm working on a Pan de Coco Integral (Whole Wheat) recipe which will take care of a version that's a bit more in line with the old school Pan de Coco of Honduras.
The most significant difference in my version is that I'm using my sourdough starter, which makes this Pan de Coco naturally leavened, and thus more healthy and easily digestible. Most importantly, it's more delicious to eat this way. The process is not too complicated, so make sure you have as much fun as possible when making it!
What You'll Need (for levain build)
85 grams Mature Sourdough Starter
50 grams King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat Flour
150 grams King Arthur Organic Bread Flour
170 grams Warm Water
Mix these together and let it sit at room temperature for about 4 hours, or until roughly doubled in size.
What You'll Need (Final Mix)
225 grams King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour
225 grams King Arthur Organic Bread Flour
100 grams Water
200 grams Organic Coconut Milk (canned is fine)
200 grams levain from the build above
50 grams Shredded Coconut (sweetened or unsweetened is fine, depending on your preference).
28 grams Unsalted Butter, softened
28 grams Sugar
10 grams Kosher Salt
Warm the coconut milk and the water slightly, on the stovetop or in the microwave is fine. Just make sure it isn't boiling or too hot. Combine into a bowl.
Add the levain and dissolve into the warm coconut and water mixture.
Use your hands to mix in all other ingredients until incorporated. Turn it out onto the countertop and knead with your palm until it is smooth. Alternatively, you can mix it well and just let it be or use a kitchen aid mixer with the paddle attachment. Either way is fine, just make sure you aren't overworking the dough.
Let this mixture ferment in the bowl for 5 or 6 hours. You don't need to stretch and fold this dough. You just need to look for an increase in volume and a nice, smooth surface. If you don't want to bake on the same day, you can put the bowl in the fridge and let it continue to ferment in a cold environment for up to 12 hours and then move on to the next step.
After you're done with your initial fermentation, it's time to shape and proof. Flour your work surface and dump out your dough.
Divide into three pieces. Roll each piece into a log and place each log horizontally in a greased baking tin. You can grease your tin with coconut oil or butter. Let this proof for about 3-4 hours.
30 Minutes before the proof is complete, preheat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
Once the loaf is done proofing, baste with coconut oil and top with a liberal amount of shredded coconut.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. You may need to rotate your pan halfway through the bake.
Remember that this bread is BEST when eaten hot out of the oven. Enjoy.