© 2007 Hector Rodriguez
Every culture has a recipe for bread. I have found several versions of the bread, which is also used in Cuban cooking. Puerto Rican water bread (pan de agua) is similar to French or Italian bread using the same basic ingredients, but the baking procedure is different. The dough is put in a cold oven, set above a pan of boiling water. The bread continues to rise as the oven heats causing the crust to become thin and crisp. You can use the bread to make Cuban sandwiches or use leftovers to make bread pudding.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
- 1 pack active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 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 warm water.
- Cover the mixture and let stand for about twenty minutes. The yeast should form a foam on the top.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, mix together the salt and flour.
- Mix the flour and yeast mixtures together a little bit at a time by adding the flour to the yeast one cup at a time.
- As you ad the flour, the dough will start to form. When all the flour is added, knead the dough for about 10 to 15 minutes until it is elastic and no longer sticky.
- Grease a big bowl. You can use the one you mixed 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. Place the dough on it and separate into two equal portions.
- Knead the dough portions into two separate long loaves, about 12 to 14 inches.
- Using a large baking board or cookie sheet that will hold both loaves of bread, sprinkle some cornmeal or flour. 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.
- In a bowl, mix together the egg whites and water. Brush the mixture on top of the loaves of bread.
- Place the loaves on the center rack of a cold oven then place a shallow baking pan on the rack below the loaves. Fill the shallow pan with 1 cup boiling water.
- Wait 10 minutes and then turn the oven on to 400 degrees and let bake for 35 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaves should be 200 degrees. The loaves should be golden and a little crusty.
- Serve warm.