Filipinos love their meryenda time which literally translates as an afternoon snack. It’s almost become a ritual to most Filipinos to get a meryenda during midafternoon to get that extra energy boost for work or for just a normal day. One of the best snacks for a meryenda is the delicious and fluffy pan de coco.
Pan de coco is one of those Filipino recipes or snacks that aren’t limited to meryenda but this sweet bread is also often eaten for breakfast or dessert. Many Filipinos love to pair it with coffee or milk in the morning or in the afternoon or hot chocolate in the evening. It’s one of the best comfort foods in the Philippines, especially for children, because of its fluffy texture and sweet filling.
It’s certainly one of the favorite afternoon snacks for children and it’s easily accessible to households with easy access to a corner local bakery which is literally available everywhere in the Philippines. Even in large chain bakeries, they always have them in stock and are usually the most popular products on the shelf (or display tray).
But first, what exactly is pan de coco?
Pan de coco widely known in the Philippines is as this fluffy round bread with deliciously sweet coconut filling that is widely loved for Filipinos with a sweet tooth, especially for children. But surprisingly enough, pan de coco which majority percent of Filipinos think is a Filipino recipe actually came from Central America, Honduras to be specific.
Yes, pan de coco is a Spanish influenced dish that came from Honduras to which the Spanish brought to the Philippines in the 1600s. Like many foreign-influenced dishes that Filipinos took a liking to, they quickly made the original pan de coco recipe into their own and it quickly evolved to suit the likings of the Filipino palate.
Did you know that the original Central American recipe for pan de coco doesn’t have any fillings at all? Instead, the original Honduras recipe for pan de coco integrates their coconut meat along with milk into the dough itself.
And rather than eating the sweet bread with a delicious mug of coffee, milk, or hot choco, the Hondurans typically serve and eat their original version of pan de coco with stew type dishes. I imagine that it’s kind of like serving garlic bread with pasta dishes.
Anyway, the Filipinos immediately took a liking to the Spanish brought pan de coco and naturally changed up its recipe to perfectly catch the Filipino taste. Modern recipes of pan de coco will have a fluffy round bread filled with a deliciously sweet mixture of coconut meat and other ingredients with a consistency of jam. The fillings vary widely among bakeries throughout the country but the main ingredient is always the coconut meat.
This recipe is an exciting one because we got to make the pan de coco from scratch which means we got to bake!
Now we got a somewhat longer list of ingredients for the bread alone. I went grocery shopping for this recipe and got myself bread flour, rapid rise yeast, milk, and lots of butter. I already got some of the ingredients I need in the pantry which are salt, white sugar, and eggs.
For the filling, I bought some sweetened coconut flakes, butter, and vanilla. I’ll be also using brown sugar from my pantry.
Alright! Time to make the dough. In a bowl, mix together ¾ cups of warm milk, 4 eggs, ¼ cup of white sugar, and 2 teaspoons of yeast. And in another bowl, mix together 4 cups of bread flour, ½ tablespoon of salt, and ¾ cups of melted butter. Combine these two mixtures well to create the dough.
In a flat well-floured surface, knead the dough until it has a soft and elastic consistency. Once you have the consistency you want, place it into an oiled bowl. Then cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it for one hour until it’s doubled in size.
While we’re waiting for the dough to rise, it’s a great time to prepare the filling for the pan de coco. In a bowl, add 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes, 1 ½ tablespoon of softened butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix all of these ingredients well until it has a jam-like sticky consistency.
Back to the dough! When it’s ready and doubled in size, divide it into 4 equal pieces and 3 to 4 rolls in each pieces. Roll these pieces into a ball then flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin. Then place 1 tablespoon of filling at the center of the flattened pieces of dough. Fold the dough over the filling, then pinch the edges and twist to seal the edges.
Then place the results on a parchment paper with the pinched sides down. Cover it with cloth again and leave it for 1 hour until it’s again doubled in size.
Now for baking, your oven should be heated to 350℉ and bake the prepared dough for 5 minutes. Take it out after five minutes and brush the tops of the dough with egg wash. Finally, put it back in the oven and bake it for another 15 minutes or until the top becomes golden brown.
The end result is a delicious pan de coco with the sweet coconut filling! Serve with your hot beverage of choice.
Pan de Coco Recipe
- 4 Cups bread flour
- ¾ Cup warm milk
- 2 Teaspoon rapid rise yeast
- ¼ Cup white sugar
- 4 Eggs
- ½ Tablespoon salt
- ¾ Cup melted butter
- 1 egg beaten with a splash of water egg wash
- 1 Cup brown sugar
- 1 Cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon softened butter
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- Mix together warm milk, yeast, sugar and eggs.
- Mix flour and salt, add melted butter.
- Combine egg mixture to the flour mixture, mix well to form a dough.
- Turn dough into a well-floured surface and knead until soft and elastic.
- Place the kneaded dough in a well-oiled bowl.
- Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces, and 3 to 4 roll in each pieces.
- Form dough into a ball, flatten it by hand or rolling pin.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of filling at the center.
- Pinch all the side together and twist to seal the edges.
- Place pinched side down on parchment paper.
- Cover with cloth and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hours.
- Bake at 350°F for about 5 minutes, brush the top with egg wash.
- Bake for another 15 minutes or until top becomes golden brown.