Roughly translating to ‘kneaded bread’, pan sobao is a Puerto Rican delight that has been gaining popularity abroad.
Similar to a brioche or challah, this bread is semi-sweet and delicious. It has a soft crust and a spongy texture that can’t be beat.
If you have ever bought it before you know it’s common practice to buy 2 because you can’t help eating one on your way home.
Pan sobao gets its unique taste and texture from one of its main ingredients: lard.
For a vegetarian alternative you can use vegetable shortening, but you won’t get that authentic taste.
Despite being a semi-sweet bread, pan sobao is extremely versatile.
It can be used in savory meals, as a part of breakfast, ate as a midday snack, or turned into a delicious dessert.
The best part is, it is so easy to make. Soon you will be swapping out all the bread in your house with homemade pan sobao.
Below you will find the easiest way to make pan sobao at home and what flavors will work well with it.
Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe you can try experimenting with different flavors.
How To Make Easy Pan Sobao?
This bread only takes 6 ingredients to make, and if you’re a baking fan then you probably already have most of these in your pantry.
This recipe makes about 1 loaf, but we recommend doubling or tripling the recipe. Trust us,
You’ll be disappointed you only made one loaf when it goes in one day.
- ¾ cup of warm water
- 1 packet of active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lard
- 2 ½ cups of bread flour
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- Put your yeast, sugar and warm water into a bowl. Let bloom for about 15 mins. The water must be warm to activate the yeast.
- Add your lard, salt, and 1 cup of the flour to the yeast mixture and combine.
- Add a ¼ cup of flour at a time and mix until it forms a dough.
- Lightly flour your counter and place your dough onto it.
- Knead the dough for about 10 mins. This is to stretch the gluten in it so it becomes spongy. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s stretchy and smooth.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with a clean towel, and let it proof in a warm spot for about 45 minutes.
- Punch down your dough to remove air bubbles.
- Gently knead again until smooth (this should only take a couple of kneads).
- Form the dough into a ball and cover it again with the towel. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Roll your dough into a baguette shape. You can do this by rolling the dough back and forth like a rolling pin. Try to keep your hands moving across it so it stays the same length.
- Put it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Tuck in each end of the dough for a neater shape.
- Once again, cover it in a towel. Let it proof a second time, this should be about an hour or until it’s doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
- Cook in the middle of the over for about 25-30 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
- The bread should sound hollow when tapped underneath.
- Let it cool completely on a drying rack before slicing with a bread knife.
Any leftovers you have can be frozen until you next want to eat it. All you have to do is take it out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature.
What Flavors Works Well With It?
Although pan sobao is extremely versatile, the best way to eat it is by itself.
There is nothing better than a slice of freshly baked pan sobao, we recommend spreading a small amount of butter on it while it’s still warm.
We will warn you, if you do this then you might ruin all future bread for yourself.
Of course, you can toast slices of it to get a wonderfully crunchy texture to this otherwise extremely soft bread.
The nature of pan sobao is that it can work well with pretty much any meal.
So below we have compiled a list of some flavors or recipe ideas, so that way you can start getting creative with your baking.
- Coffee – While coffee isn’t necessarily a sweet drink, the bitterness of it makes the bread taste sweeter. This makes for the ideal breakfast combo.
- French toast – Some eggs, milk, sugar and good vanilla extract is all you need to make the best french toast. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and your favorite fruit, make it your own.
- Icing sugar – The simplest way to serve it, just a dusting of confectioners sugar while it’s still warm.
- Honey – Either lightly drizzle it or make a glaze and let it soak.
- Jelly or jam – For a breakfast staple. You can add cream for a British twist.
- Bread pudding – Mix cubes of it with sugar, eggs, and milk for a crispy top and soft inside.
- Fruits – Berries, bananas, pineapples, the choice is endless for what fruit goes well with it.
- Fried sticks – Slice it into sticks and fry it like donuts. Roll them in cinnamon sugar or dip in your favorite sauce.
- Ice cream – Use this bread to make a unique ice cream sandwich.
- Nuts – Top with an assortment of nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans.
- Rolled up – Spread it with chocolate spread or cinnamon icing and roll it up. Pan fry in butter for an easy take on a rolled desert.
- Garlic bread – Garlic goes well with everything, this includes pan sobao.
- Grilled cheese – Use a good strong cheese, and have it with a side of tomato soup.
- Charcuterie board – Create an elegant and unusual board. Pair it with salami, figs, and soft cheeses.
- Bread crumbs – Blend any leftover bread with herbs like rosemary and thyme.
- Eggs in basket – Dig holes into pan sobao buns and crack an egg into it. Top with chives, bacon, cheese, or peppers for a great work lunch.
- Stuffing – Cubed bread with butter, onion, sage, eggs and vegetable stock for the best side dish.
- On soup – The soft bread goes fantastically with french onion or your favorite chowder.
- Sandwiches – Fill it with various meats and vegetables for the perfect picnic treat.
- Burgers – Form your pan sobao into buns for the best burgers.
- Croutons – Lightly toast with olive oil and top any salads with them.
- Avocado toast – A slightly sweet take on a morning classic. Lightly toast your bread and top it with a delicious spread of mashed avocado.
While pan sobao is gaining popularity globally, it is still criminally underrated. For being so versatile, it deserves to be a part of your weekly meal rotation.
So why not give it a try and discover your own flavor combinations to go with it.