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Pan Sobao Recipe – Easy Kitchen Guide

Last Updated on November 24, 2023

Pan Sobao, also known as Puerto Rican bread, is a traditional bread that has been around for centuries. It’s made with simple ingredients like flour, yeast, lard or shortening, and salt. The result is a fluffy yet slightly dense texture that pairs well with savory dishes like beans and stews.

The best part about this bread is that it’s simple to make and comes together in a few easy steps. With this recipe, you can learn how to make the perfect Pan Sobao for your next meal or snack.

In this article, you will learn how to make Pan Sobao, including the ingredients and steps required. From mixing the dough to baking it in the oven, let’s get started!

pan sobao recipe

What Is Pan sobao?

This Puerto Rican bread is a traditional and beloved snack in many Latin American countries. It’s made with simple ingredients like flour, yeast, lard or shortening, and salt. The result is a fluffy yet slightly dense texture that pairs well with savory dishes like beans and stews.

You can also find this bread all over the United States in bodegas, Latin bakeries, and even supermarkets. It’s a great accompaniment to any meal or as a snack on its own. 

Besides being tasty, Pan Sobao is also the perfect bread for beginners since it doesn’t require any specialized equipment or ingredients.

Where Did I First Try Pan sobao?

I first tried Pan Sobao about five ago when I was visiting San, Puerto Rico. I had wanting to try the local cuisine and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

My friends and I were walking around Old San Juan, exploring the colorful streets and shops when we stumbled upon a small bakery that sold Pan Sobao. 

The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air was irresistible and we decided to try it out.

We stood at the counter as the baker handed us each a warm loaf, with its slightly sweet, salty smell making its way into our noses. We took one bite and looked at each other in amazement – the flavor was so unique and delicious!

The bread had a slightly dense yet fluffy texture that was reminiscent of focaccia. It was slightly sweet and salty, but with a subtle hint of buttery goodness from the lard or shortening used to make it. We later learned that this is what gives Pan Sobao its signature taste.

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pan sobao recipe pin

Ingredients

Bread Flour: Bread flour is the best flour to use when making Pan Sobao. It has a higher protein content which helps develop gluten, giving it structure and a lighter texture.

Yeast: Active dry yeast can be used in various forms such as cakes or packets depending on how you prefer to measure out ingredients. We will be using one packet of active dry yeast in this recipe.

Water: Water is used to activate the yeast and help the dough rise. We will be using warm water (approximately 135°F) for this recipe.

Lard or Shortening: Lard or shortening are both fat sources that add flavor to Pan Sobao by providing tenderness and richness to the bread.

Salt: Salt is necessary for flavor and texture in baking. We will be using kosher salt for this recipe, but you can use any type of salt that you have at home.

Directions

Step 1: Make the poolish

In a large bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons (16g) of bread flour with 2 tablespoons of warm water and 1/8 teaspoon (1g) of active dry yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Step 2: Make the dough

In a large bowl, mix together 4 ½-5 cups (615-680g) of bread flour, 1 ½ cup (350ml) of warm water that is divided into two parts and the poolish. Mix until just combined and then add in 3 tablespoons (37g) of granulated sugar, 4 ½ teaspoons (15g) of active dry yeast (2 pkgs) and 1/4 cup (51g) of lard or shortening. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Let the dough rise

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Step 4: Shape the dough

Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and shape into a ball. Place it on a lightly floured surface and using your hands, flatten the dough into a round disc. Cut 8 evenly spaced wedges around the edge of the disc and then roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Step 5: Proof the dough

Cover the pan and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size.

Step 6: Bake the Pan Sobao

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cooking Tips

•If you are making Pan Sobao with lard, it is important to knead the dough thoroughly so that all of the lard is well incorporated into it. This will ensure a tender and light texture.

•If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour to it until you can handle it easily.

•Allow the Pan Sobao to cool before cutting or eating. This will ensure that the bread retains its shape and doesn’t become gummy or soggy when cut.

•If you are having trouble shaping the dough, try using a rolling pin to flatten it out.

•For a sweeter and more flavorful Pan Sobao, add in some golden raisins or currants when forming the balls of dough. This will give your bread an extra special touch!

•For a savory and more flavorful Pan Sobao, add some olives or diced ham when forming the balls of dough. The salty flavor will go perfectly with the bread!

What Ingredients Can I Replace or Substitute While Making It?

•If you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour as a substitute.

•If you don’t have lard or shortening, you can use butter or margarine instead.

•If you don’t have active dry yeast, you can use instant yeast instead.

•If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use any type of regular table salt instead.

•If you want to make a vegan version of Pan Sobao, replace the lard or shortening with vegetable oil and omit the granulated sugar. You can also add some vegan-friendly ingredients such as diced vegetables or a tablespoon of flaxseed meal.

•If you want to make a gluten-free version of Pan Sobao, replace the bread flour with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and use psyllium husks instead of the active dry yeast. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package for best results.

•To add a bit of sweetness to your Pan Sobao, you can add a tablespoon of honey or brown sugar when making the dough.

•To add some extra flavor, try adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough. This will create an interesting and delicious variation on this classic recipe!

pan sobao recipe

Pan Sobao Recipe

Pan Sobao, also known as Puerto Rican bread, is a traditional bread that has been around for centuries. It’s made with simple ingredients like flour, yeast, lard or shortening, and salt. The result is a fluffy yet slightly dense texture that pairs well with savory dishes like beans and stews.
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 411kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup 175ml of warm water, divided, providing hydration to the dough, helping the yeast activate and promoting gluten formation, resulting in a moist and tender crumb.
  • 1/16 teaspoon 0.5g of active dry yeast, a microorganism that ferments the dough, producing carbon dioxide and causing the bread to rise, resulting in a light and airy texture.
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons 7.5g of active dry yeast (1 pkg), an essential leavening agent that reacts with sugar and warm water to produce carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to rise and resulting in a light and fluffy bread.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 18.5g of granulated sugar, adding sweetness to the bread, enhancing its flavor profile, and promoting yeast fermentation for a well-risen loaf.
  • 1 tablespoon 8g of bread flour, a key ingredient in bread-making, providing structure and contributing to the chewy texture of the final product.
  • 3/4 teaspoon 4g of kosher salt, enhancing the bread’s flavor by balancing the sweetness, controlling yeast activity, and contributing to the overall taste and texture of the final product.
  • Poolish a pre-fermented dough made from flour, water, and yeast, contributing to the development of complex flavors, improving the texture, and enhancing the overall quality of the bread.
  • 1/8 tablespoons 25.5g of lard (or shortening), adding richness and tenderness to the bread, imparting a subtle and desirable flavor while contributing to a softer crumb.
  • 1 tablespoon of warm water necessary for activating the yeast and helping it dissolve, kickstarting the fermentation process and ensuring proper dough development.
  • 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups 307.5-340g of bread flour, the main ingredient in the bread dough, responsible for its structure, elasticity, and gluten development, resulting in a well-textured and springy loaf.

Instructions

Make the poolish

  • In a large bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons (16g) of bread flour with 2 tablespoons of warm water and 1/8 teaspoon (1g) of active dry yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Make The Dough

  • In a large bowl, mix together 4 ½-5 cups (615-680g) of bread flour, 1 ½ cup (350ml) of warm water that is divided into two parts and the poolish. Mix until just combined and then add in 3 tablespoons (37g) of granulated sugar, 4 ½ teaspoons (15g) of active dry yeast (2 pkgs) and 1/4 cup (51g) of lard or shortening. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Let The Dough Rise

  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Shape The Dough

  • Once the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and shape into a ball. Place it on a lightly floured surface and using your hands, flatten the dough into a round disc. Cut 8 evenly spaced wedges around the edge of the disc and then roll each piece into a ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Proof The Dough

  • Cover the pan and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size.

Bake The Pan Sobao

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes

•If you are making Pan Sobao with lard, it is important to knead the dough thoroughly so that all of the lard is well incorporated into it. This will ensure a tender and light texture.
•If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit more flour to it until you can handle it easily.
•Allow the Pan Sobao to cool before cutting or eating. This will ensure that the bread retains its shape and doesn’t become gummy or soggy when cut.
•If you are having trouble shaping the dough, try using a rolling pin to flatten it out.
•For a sweeter and more flavorful Pan Sobao, add in some golden raisins or currants when forming the balls of dough. This will give your bread an extra special touch!
•For a savory and more flavorful Pan Sobao, add some olives or diced ham when forming the balls of dough. The salty flavor will go perfectly with the bread!
Keyword: Pan Sobao, Pan Sobao Recipe

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 400 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 72 g 
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5 g 
  • Fiber: 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 250 mg

How to Store Leftover Pan sobao?

Once the Pan Sobao has cooled, place it in an airtight container or ziplock bag and store in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the bread for up to 6 months. To reheat it, simply let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then warm it up in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C).

FAQs

Can pregnant women eat this? 

Yes, pregnant women can eat Pan Sobao as long as it is prepared with ingredients that are safe for consumption during pregnancy.

Can I make this with regular all-purpose flour?

Yes, you can use all-purpose flour if bread flour is not available. However, the texture and flavor of the final product may not be as good as with bread flour.

How long will the Pan Sobao last?

If stored properly in an airtight container, it should last up to 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Is this recipe suitable for vegans?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of Pan Sobao by replacing the lard or shortening with vegetable oil and omitting the granulated sugar. You can also add some vegan-friendly ingredients such as diced vegetables or a tablespoon of flaxseed meal for extra flavor.

Wrapping Up

Pan Sobao is a traditional Puerto Rican bread that is soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet. To make it, all you need are bread flour, lard or shortening, active dry yeast, granulated sugar, and kosher salt. 

This recipe can be easily adapted to suit different dietary needs such as vegan or gluten-free diets. Serve it warm with butter, jam, or cheese for a delicious treat.

Again, this recipe is simple yet delicious and will make for a great addition to any meal. For best results, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and use fresh ingredients whenever possible. 

Please share this recipe with your friends and family, and don’t forget to leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions. Thank you.

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My name is Lori Walker. I’m a registered dietitian, food blogger and food enthusiast. I share easy healthy, delicious recipes on my blog and review necessary kitchen items. The recipes I share take less… Read more

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