Pan de Agua (Water Bread) is a very popular bread in the Caribbean. This bread has an outer crispy crust with an airy and fluffy center. It is very similar to Italian and French bread. Since most Pan de Agua recipes call for several cups of water, it is referred to as Water Bread.
Every Sunday in Puerto Rico, my uncle would stop at the bakery to purchase Pan de Agua on his way home from work. The fresh bread was served with butter and consumed with a cup of Puerto Rican coffee. This is my favorite bread in our culture.
Activating and Proofing the Yeast!
For this recipe, I will be using the RapidRise Instant Yeast. When using the instant yeast, the yeast proofing is not required. However, I have been making this bread, using many types of yeast. Guess what! I got the best results with proofing the instant yeast in the oven. Therefore, set your oven to the proof mode.
NOTE: The proof setting in oven provides very low heat for the yeast to grow. In fact, my oven racks are barely warm to the touch. If you don’t have an oven proofer, just find a spot in your kitchen with a consistent warm temperature from 75°F to 80°F.
Heat 2 cups of room temperature water in the microwave for 1 minute. Check the temperature with a thermometer. The water needs to reach a temperature between 100 to 110°F.
NOTE: You don’t need hot water just lukewarm water to activate the yeast. You can also use tap water as long as it reaches the correct temperature.
In a small bowl, pour the 2 cups of water along with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. The sugar will provide the energy the yeast needs to produce carbon dioxide for the bread to rise. Add 1 package of RapidRise Instant Yeast and stir well.
Cover bowl with a dish towel and place in oven to proof for 20 minutes.
After proofing the yeast for 20 minutes, remove from oven and uncover. The yeast/water mixture appears to be foamy on top (known as bubbly active yeast) due to the carbon dioxide.
NOTE: Do not turn off the proof setting because we still need to proof the dough.
Mixing Bread Flour for Dough!
In a medium bowl, add 5 cups of bread flour and 1 tablespoon of lite salt. Mix well with a whisk.
Using a Stand Mixer to Prepare Bread Dough!
Use the lowest setting of mixer to form the bread dough. For this mixer, it is the first notch.
Pour the yeast/water mixture into mixing bowl.
Add your first cup of bread flour with yeast mixture. Stir the ingredients, using the lowest setting of mixer. For this recipe, I will be adding one cup of flour at a time.
The dough does not have to be completely mixed before adding another cup of bread flour.
We can add the second cup of flour and stir again. Continue this process until all the bread flour is added.
After several cups of bread flour, the dough still has a sticky consistency.
It is time to add the last cup of bread flour. Continue stirring until there is no longer any excess dough stuck to the sides of mixing bowl. The mixture is starting to come together and form a dough.
Dough is ready when little or no dough is at the bottom or on the sides of mixing bowl. After of total of 7 minutes of stirring, the dough is mainly concentrated around the dough hook.
We can now remove dough from the dough hook.
We just finished making our dough.
Preparing Bread Dough for Proofing!
Place dough on top of kitchen counter and shape dough into a ball, rotating dough with your hands. If dough is too sticky to handle, then lightly sprinkle bread flour on countertop.
The dough is round and has a smooth surface.
Grease a large bowl with oil. I prefer to use olive oil. Cover bowl with a dish towel and place in the oven to proof the dough for 2 hours. The dough should rise and double in size.
Shaping the Water Bread Dough into Loaves!
After 2 hours of proofing the dough, remove bowl from oven and uncover. Press button on stove to cancel the proofing process.
The dough has almost doubled in size. With a dough scraper, gently remove dough from bowl without deflating it.
Cut the dough in half with a dough cutter. With the first half of dough, we are going to shape the dough into a loaf.
Roll the dough several times and with the palm of your hands, shape the dough into a loaf.
NOTE: Do not work the dough too much!
Round the ends of each loaf with your hands.
We just finished shaping the bread dough into a loaf, measuring at least 12 to 14 inches. Continue this process with the other half of dough.
Prepping Bread Baking Pan for Loaves!
Brush the bread baking pan with olive oil. This is a perforated French bread baking pan. This pan will allow the air to circulate around the dough, creating a crispy golden-brown crust.
Sprinkle the bottom of pan with cornmeal. This will help release the baked bread with ease and prevent from burning.
Brushing the Egg Wash and Scoring the Loaves!
In a small bowl, add 2 egg whites and 1 tablespoon of water. Stir until well blended. This is our egg wash.
Gently place the loaves of bread on each slot of baking pan. Brush the loaves on top with the egg wash. The egg wash will create a golden color with a crispy crust.
The last step is to make 3 to 4 small diagonal cuts on top of loaves with a sharp knife.
Let the dough rest for 15 to 30 minutes to rise before baking.
Baking the Water Bread (Pan de Agua)!
Before we bake the loaves of bread, we need to microwave a cup of water for 2 minutes and 15 seconds or until it boils to pour into a shallow baking pan, measuring 11 x 15 inches, that has already been placed in the oven. The boiling water will create steam in the oven for a crispy crust and aerated bread.
Insert cookie sheet with the loaves of bread on the top rack into a cold oven.
Pour the boiling water into shallow baking pan on the bottom rack. Push lower rack into oven. Close the oven door and wait for 10 minutes before turning on the oven.
NOTE: Do Not Turn On The Oven.
After 10 minutes of steaming, we can finally turn the oven on and set the temperature to 400°F. Bake loaves for 30 to 35 minutes.
Removing Fresh Baked Water Bread (Pan de Agua) from Oven!
The loaves of bread have been removed from the oven after 30 minutes of baking. They have a crispy golden crust on the outside. The kitchen smells like someone just finished baking some bread.
Cut a slice of bread with a serrated knife. The bread is airy and fluffy on the inside. This is our Pan de Agua (Water Bread).
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube Video on How to Prepare Water Bread (Pan de Agua)!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts!
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.Print
Water Bread (Pan de Agua) – A chewy bread that is initially steamed in the oven before baking for an outer crispy crust with an airy and fluffy center.
- 1 package of RapidRise Instant Yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups water
- 5 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon lite salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon water
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to grease baking pan and large bowl.
- Microwave 2 cups of water for 1 minute or until it reaches a temperature between 100°F to 110°F.
- Add water, sugar and yeast into a bowl and stir well. Cover bowl with towel and proof in oven for 20 minutes.
Preparing Dough with Stand Mixer
- Using a stand mixer with dough hook, pour yeast/water mixture into mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of bread flour and mix. Use the lowest setting of mixer to mix the ingredients.
- Continue this process of adding 1 cup of bread flour at a time until a dough is formed. Dough is ready when little or no dough is at the bottom or sides of mixing bowl.
- Remove dough from mixer and place on countertop. Shape dough into a ball and until it has a smooth surface.
- Place dough into a large greased bowl. Cover with towel and proof for 2 hours in oven.
Shaping Dough into Loaves
- Remove dough from bowel without deflating it and place on countertop after 2 hours of proofing.
- Cut dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, measuring 12 to 14 inches. Do not work the dough too much.
Preparing the Loaves for Baking
- Grease cookie sheet or special perforated bread baking pan with oil and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves on cookie sheet or bread baking pan.
- In a bowl, mix 2 egg whites and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the loaves with the egg wash. Make 3 to 4 small diagonal cuts on top of each loaf.
- Allow loaves to rest for 15 to 30 minutes to rise.
- Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes and 15 seconds or until it boils.
- Insert cookie sheet on top rack with the loaves and pour boiling water in baking pan, measuring 11 x 15 inches, on second rack.
- Close oven door and allow the loaves to steam for 10 minutes before turning on the oven. Do not turn on oven during the steaming process.
- After 10 minutes of steaming the loaves, turn on the oven to 400°F. Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes or until a golden crispy outer crust is formed.
If you do not have an oven proofer, then find a spot in kitchen that has a consistent temperature of 75°F to 80°F.
I purchased one perforated French bread pan with two slots, one for each loaf. However, you can use a cookie sheet as well.
- Category: Breads
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican
Keywords: breads, water bread, pan de agua