Pan Panchón

Pan Panchón – A Traditional Bread You Can Make At Home

In the conceyo of Aller, there is a dessert eaten these days only on a few holidays. The locals make it from bread crumbs, butter, and honey, fried together. They call this dessert panchón after the loaf of bread of the same name, once common throughout all of Asturias. I have taken the liberty of giving them slightly less confusing names. I will talk about pan panchón and postre panchón from here on out in the article.

Pan panchón is a collective term of sorts. It is used to denote the typical normal homemade bread that people made for themselves before the rise of the delivery bakery van1García Arias, Xose Lluis. “Panchón, El.” Diccionario General de La Lengua Asturiana (DGLA), Editorial Prensa Asturiana, 2021, https://mas.lne.es/diccionario/palabra/55695.. The home baker would combine wheat, corn, spelt, and rye flours. The combination being an ever-changing ratio based on local tradition and household stock. Just like today, where pan means barra de pan once upon a time in Asturias, pan meant el panchón.

Pan Panchón Tips & Tricks

All breads used to be hearth baked – that is baked in an open oven. However, we have long known that covering the loaves retains moisture better and results in nicer bread. These days home bakers use a cloche or a dutch oven to achieve this. However, in the past in Asturias, it was common to use berza leaves for this purpose. Laying the leaves over the bread as it bakes retains moisture the same way. And in an Asturian home, berza was always available.

I suggest you try this recipe as written the first time. If you enjoy the bread, perhaps try with a dutch oven or cloche for the second batch.

The Dessert

Postre panchón is a humble dessert made from the loaf, crumbled up and cooked with butter and honey. It is not what you would call a low calorie dessert. It is however, a popular festival dessert in Aller.

CategoryDifficultyBeginner
Postre Panchón

Postre panchón is a typical dessert of the conceyo of Aller, where it is made for different festivals in the autumn. Made traditionally from pan panchón, it is a simple, homey dessert you can make in 10 minutes. Learn about the history of this recipe here.

Yields8 Servings
Prep Time5 minsCook Time5 minsTotal Time10 mins
 400 g pan panchón
 200 g butter
 200 g honey
1

Take your bread, probably a couple days old, and render it into crumbs. The cheese-grating disc on a food processor will make short work of it, but it is almost as fast to use a box grater. You want nice chunky bread crumbs. You're not trying to make fine crumbs like you'd use to coat battered things for frying.

2

Over medium-heat, melt the butter and honey together until you get a nice mixture. Raise the heat to medium high and add your breadcrumbs.

3

Stirring constantly, cook the crumbs until they have absorbed all the honey and butter and have started to brown a bit. 5 minutes should be enough time, but it can take as long as 10 minutes if your bread was very moist to begin with.

4

Spoon the crumbs into small bowls to serve. Eat warm.

Ingredients

 400 g pan panchón
 200 g butter
 200 g honey

Directions

1

Take your bread, probably a couple days old, and render it into crumbs. The cheese-grating disc on a food processor will make short work of it, but it is almost as fast to use a box grater. You want nice chunky bread crumbs. You're not trying to make fine crumbs like you'd use to coat battered things for frying.

2

Over medium-heat, melt the butter and honey together until you get a nice mixture. Raise the heat to medium high and add your breadcrumbs.

3

Stirring constantly, cook the crumbs until they have absorbed all the honey and butter and have started to brown a bit. 5 minutes should be enough time, but it can take as long as 10 minutes if your bread was very moist to begin with.

4

Spoon the crumbs into small bowls to serve. Eat warm.

Postre Panchón – Breadcrumbs Fried in Butter and Honey

The Recipe

CategoryDifficultyAdvanced
Pan Panchon crumb

Once the standard bread in every home in Asturias, now a curiosity baked only on special days for making postre panchón. This moist, flavorful loaf is perfect for everyday baking. Learn about the history of this recipe here.

Yields28 Servings
Prep Time6 hrsCook Time1 hr 10 minsTotal Time7 hrs 10 mins
 350 g Bread FlourI use Spanish #80 flour. For Americans this is "high gluten bread flour". Check the link for equivalents in other countries.
 650 g Spelt Flour
 22 g Salt
 4 g Active Dry Yeast
 800 ml Waterwarm
 1 Cabbageor 1 bunch whole collard greens
For First Time Bakers
1

Weigh out all your ingredients beforehand. It makes everything in baking so much easier.

2

Your water for this bread should be almost hot. Body temperature is a good way to put it. Yeast are particularly sensitive to temperature. What we want is for the dough temperature when it's all mixed together to be around 27° C–32° C (80° F–90° F), which is optimum for the yeast to do their thing. To achieve this, we add water that is hotter than this. How much hotter is a function of the relative weight of water to flour in the recipe, as the flour will cool down the water. Technically, for this recipe you are looking for hotter than average water because of how long it will sit before we add the yeast.

3

Use a big enough container for your dough, and do all your mixing in that one container. This will make your baking so much easier. Get a big plastic tub with a tight fitting lid if you are going to bake a lot. Being able to do everything in one container from initial mixing all the way to final shaping will make you want to bake more.

4

Always wet your hands when working with bread dough. It's the secret to not having a sticky mess stuck to your hands. I do all my mixing next to the sink, with a couple inches of water in the bottom to easily re-wet my hands with. You can use any container large enough to get your hands in to hold your water though.

For the Dough
5

Mix your flours together in your dough bucket. If you have a sifter, sift them together twice for best results. If you don't, then give them a good mix with a wire whisk, until they are well combined.

6

Add your hot water to the flour mixture, and either slosh it all around or gently mix it by hand or with a rubber paddle spatula. Just fold it together gently. We aren't kneading the dough yet. We are getting it ready to autolyse, a step that will drastically improve your bread. The best part is it is entirely hands off.

Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Autolyse Timer

7

At the end of the autolyse period, we will sprinkle the yeast and salt over the top of the dough, and fold the whole thing together a couple of times. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your dough bucket with your hand as you go, until you have a nice ball of dough. Don't forget that wet hands is the key!

8

Now we will knead the dough twice, with a rest in between, to allow the gluten to form. For the first kneading, lift your dough ball out of the container and while holding it in your hands, fold it in on itself. Imagine turning a pair of stockings or a pants leg inside out, and you have the idea of the motion to use to knead the dough. Repeat this motion for a couple of minutes, until the dough no longer holds together as a ball, and begins to turn into a giant doughnut/bagel shape. That's when you've reached the maximum you can stretch the gluten.

Put the dough back in the container and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat the kneading process a second time.

9

Now we let the dough rise, undisturbed. The amount of time this will take will depend in large part on the ambient temperature in the room you are making the dough in, but I would budget at least 5 hours. You want the dough to roughly double in size in the container.

Baking Process
10

Once the dough has doubled in size, we can begin preparing to actually bake out loaves. Preheat your oven to 250° C (480° F) and get out a baking sheet or silicone sheet.

Flour a workspace (I work directly on my counter top) and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough in your bucket.

Cut a dozen or so large leaves from your cabbage and rinse them off.

11

GENTLY coax the dough out of the bucket and onto the floured workspace. You want to be as careful as you can to not deflate any bubbles that the yeast have formed in the dough. Take your time, flour the side of the container as you roll your dough out, and your patience will be rewarded with a lighter, fluffier loaf of bread.

12

Using a bench scraper or a regular knife, split your dough into two halves. Set one half aside, under a damp towel. What follows will need to be repeated for each half, one after the other.

13

Without picking up the dough, begin to work around it gently tucking the sides under the center by sliding your hands towards the each other while cupping the bread. Work around the dough a couple of times, until you have made a somewhat tight ball of dough.

14

Carefully pick up the dough ball and transfer it to your baking sheet or silicone mat. Cover the whole of the loaf with cabbage or collard leaves and slide it into your preheated oven. Over the next 20 minutes you will need to keep an eye on it and replace the leaves as they dry out and start to smoke a bit. I replace some of the leaves two or three times during this stage. As the dough springs in the oven, you will likely have to add a leaf or two to keep it completely covered.

15

At the end of the 20 minutes, you will see that the loaf under the leaves has developed a slick, moist crust. At this point, remove all of the leaves and allow the loaf to bake uncovered for another 10-12 minutes. You may need to rotate the loaf once or twice to get even browning all the way around.

16

At the end of the 12 minutes, or whenever you have a nice dark crust on your loaf, take it out of the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack while you repeat the baking for the second loaf.

Allow them to rest for an hour or so before slicing.

For Future Loaves
17

You can omit the cabbage/collard leaves and bake this as you would any other hearth bread in a preheated dutch oven.

18

After two or three days sitting on my counter uncovered, this load is ready to be crumbled for postre panchón. Your results will certainly vary based on the humidity and temperature of your kitchen.

Ingredients

 350 g Bread FlourI use Spanish #80 flour. For Americans this is "high gluten bread flour". Check the link for equivalents in other countries.
 650 g Spelt Flour
 22 g Salt
 4 g Active Dry Yeast
 800 ml Waterwarm
 1 Cabbageor 1 bunch whole collard greens

Directions

For First Time Bakers
1

Weigh out all your ingredients beforehand. It makes everything in baking so much easier.

2

Your water for this bread should be almost hot. Body temperature is a good way to put it. Yeast are particularly sensitive to temperature. What we want is for the dough temperature when it's all mixed together to be around 27° C–32° C (80° F–90° F), which is optimum for the yeast to do their thing. To achieve this, we add water that is hotter than this. How much hotter is a function of the relative weight of water to flour in the recipe, as the flour will cool down the water. Technically, for this recipe you are looking for hotter than average water because of how long it will sit before we add the yeast.

3

Use a big enough container for your dough, and do all your mixing in that one container. This will make your baking so much easier. Get a big plastic tub with a tight fitting lid if you are going to bake a lot. Being able to do everything in one container from initial mixing all the way to final shaping will make you want to bake more.

4

Always wet your hands when working with bread dough. It's the secret to not having a sticky mess stuck to your hands. I do all my mixing next to the sink, with a couple inches of water in the bottom to easily re-wet my hands with. You can use any container large enough to get your hands in to hold your water though.

For the Dough
5

Mix your flours together in your dough bucket. If you have a sifter, sift them together twice for best results. If you don't, then give them a good mix with a wire whisk, until they are well combined.

6

Add your hot water to the flour mixture, and either slosh it all around or gently mix it by hand or with a rubber paddle spatula. Just fold it together gently. We aren't kneading the dough yet. We are getting it ready to autolyse, a step that will drastically improve your bread. The best part is it is entirely hands off.

Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Autolyse Timer

7

At the end of the autolyse period, we will sprinkle the yeast and salt over the top of the dough, and fold the whole thing together a couple of times. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your dough bucket with your hand as you go, until you have a nice ball of dough. Don't forget that wet hands is the key!

8

Now we will knead the dough twice, with a rest in between, to allow the gluten to form. For the first kneading, lift your dough ball out of the container and while holding it in your hands, fold it in on itself. Imagine turning a pair of stockings or a pants leg inside out, and you have the idea of the motion to use to knead the dough. Repeat this motion for a couple of minutes, until the dough no longer holds together as a ball, and begins to turn into a giant doughnut/bagel shape. That's when you've reached the maximum you can stretch the gluten.

Put the dough back in the container and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Repeat the kneading process a second time.

9

Now we let the dough rise, undisturbed. The amount of time this will take will depend in large part on the ambient temperature in the room you are making the dough in, but I would budget at least 5 hours. You want the dough to roughly double in size in the container.

Baking Process
10

Once the dough has doubled in size, we can begin preparing to actually bake out loaves. Preheat your oven to 250° C (480° F) and get out a baking sheet or silicone sheet.

Flour a workspace (I work directly on my counter top) and sprinkle flour on the top of the dough in your bucket.

Cut a dozen or so large leaves from your cabbage and rinse them off.

11

GENTLY coax the dough out of the bucket and onto the floured workspace. You want to be as careful as you can to not deflate any bubbles that the yeast have formed in the dough. Take your time, flour the side of the container as you roll your dough out, and your patience will be rewarded with a lighter, fluffier loaf of bread.

12

Using a bench scraper or a regular knife, split your dough into two halves. Set one half aside, under a damp towel. What follows will need to be repeated for each half, one after the other.

13

Without picking up the dough, begin to work around it gently tucking the sides under the center by sliding your hands towards the each other while cupping the bread. Work around the dough a couple of times, until you have made a somewhat tight ball of dough.

14

Carefully pick up the dough ball and transfer it to your baking sheet or silicone mat. Cover the whole of the loaf with cabbage or collard leaves and slide it into your preheated oven. Over the next 20 minutes you will need to keep an eye on it and replace the leaves as they dry out and start to smoke a bit. I replace some of the leaves two or three times during this stage. As the dough springs in the oven, you will likely have to add a leaf or two to keep it completely covered.

15

At the end of the 20 minutes, you will see that the loaf under the leaves has developed a slick, moist crust. At this point, remove all of the leaves and allow the loaf to bake uncovered for another 10-12 minutes. You may need to rotate the loaf once or twice to get even browning all the way around.

16

At the end of the 12 minutes, or whenever you have a nice dark crust on your loaf, take it out of the oven and let it rest on a cooling rack while you repeat the baking for the second loaf.

Allow them to rest for an hour or so before slicing.

For Future Loaves
17

You can omit the cabbage/collard leaves and bake this as you would any other hearth bread in a preheated dutch oven.

18

After two or three days sitting on my counter uncovered, this load is ready to be crumbled for postre panchón. Your results will certainly vary based on the humidity and temperature of your kitchen.

Pan Panchón – A Hearty Bread For Everyday Eating

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