The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Puerto Rican "Pan Sobao" and "Pan de Agua"

JGo555's picture

Puerto Rican "Pan Sobao" and "Pan de Agua"

I was raised in Puerto Rico and there is something about that "pan sobao" that they sell in their bakeries that drives me insane. My dad loves "pan de agua" and it is the best for making Ham & cheese sandwiches. 

Pan sobao or Pan de manteca (rubbed bread or lard bread) is semi sweet, supper soft and fluffy and they sell you two loaves in one paper bag. It makes great breadcrumbs for breading... if it lasts long enough.

Pan de agua (Water bread) is kinda like a French baguette but wider and about 1 1/2ft long. I'm not a fan of this bread until it's in panini form. 

 "Los Cidrines" bakery makes these breads for the whole island, but I find their Sobao kind drier and less fluffy and sweet and I do not buy it.

Either way, I moved to Canada 11yrs ago and these breads are something that I miss and wish I could reproduce for my family. If anyone is from the island and can get the recipe and upload it here, I would be incredibly grateful.

jimbtv's picture

I wish I could be more helpful than to simply suggest a web search, but that is where I found several recipes. The bread seems like a fairly simple enriched dough with rise and baking times pretty standard. With that said I am sure each bakery has their own twist on the ingredients and processes, which makes unique variations.

A search of this site found this post:

Lard seems to play a role and as usual, there are those that try to adapt animal fat to shortening to avoid the trans-fats. My motto - "Use lard, eat less".

BobBoule's picture

for years for the recipes to these breads but not one of them has produced (for me) a loaf that has that unique texture and crust. My wife, who is not from the island, loves pan de aqua so I have been trying to focus on that one but I'm not even close. I've asked around this forum but no one has come up with a usable answer.

To me they look like high hydration doughs and I'll guess that the crust is made with continuous steam or nearly continuous steam, but none of my experiments come close to that. Everything I make comes out more like. crusty Italian loaf than anything else, so I'm not even close.

Even though these breads look like high hydration recipes to me, I've seen several recipes that only have 40% hydration. That sounds too low to me so I'm terribly confused.

If I ever find a recipe that works for me, you can be sure that I'll post to here. Good Luck!

leolo's picture

Hi. Here in Venezuela is also common Pan Sobado. Here is usually made with low hydratation dough. I'm not and expert in the subject, but i think the unique texture/crumb come from the technique of extending the dough to 1cm with a rolling pin, and folding several times over himself. This is done after bulk fermentation and before shaping the dough. The final shape is usually made rolling the dough in spiral (like a sticky buns with no filing, and sealing. The final result is pretty much like vietnamese Bahn Mi, but the latest has a crunchy crust.

In this video the technique is shown. (Is in spanish but really easy to understand)

Honestpanda's picture

I don’t know the recipe but if you’re located in Montreal there is a sizeable Portuguese community and their bakeries sell pão sovado and it’s basically the same thing as what we have in Puerto Rico. It’s funny because I remember an interview with one of the Cidrenes and he claimed he invented pan sobao which is ridiculous as I’ve had similar versions of it visiting Spain and Portugal.

Marimar16's picture
Marimar16 It’s for pan Sobao I have made it countless of times and it’s just like the bakery