Pan de Agua (also known as water bread) is a popular bread in the Caribbean. It’s easy to make and perfect for sandwiches or served warm with a dab of butter.

A plate of pan de agua with butter

Pan de agua is the best combination of a crusty exterior and soft fluffy interior when it comes to bread.

It’s basically impossible not to love the taste and texture of it right out of the oven!

This bread is the perfect vehicle for serving with saucy Puerto Rican recipes like picadillo, bistec encebollado, or camarones guisados.

a ball of bread dough

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make pan de agua:

  • active dry yeast
  • warm water (for the yeast)
  • white granulated sugar
  • all purpose flour
  • salt
  • flour for dusting the pan
  • egg white or olive oil
  • water

See recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Pan de Agua

Start by proofing the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes or until it looks foamy and thick on the top layer. Transfer proofed yeast to a large mixing bowl.

In a measuring cup, measure out the flour and mix in the salt. One cup at a time, start incorporating the flour into the yeast mixture in the large bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon. 

Once all the flour is added, move the mixture onto a clean, flour dusted surface. Using your hands, knead kneading the mixture with your hands for at least 20 minutes or until it no longer sticks to your hands (adding more four if needed).

Prep a large bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil, transfer the dough into the bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours. 

When the dough is almost fully rested, beat together the egg white and water and prep your work surface. Return the dough to your flour dusted work space and divide into two balls. Roll the balls into loaves about 1 foot in length.

Prep a parchment lined baking sheet by dusting with flour and place the loaves on top of the flour. Using a knife, slash into the tops of the loaves before brushing lightly with the egg white mixture. 

Bring a few cups of water to a boil in oven safe skillet. Once it’s boiling, add the skillet to the bottom rack in your oven. Place the pan with your loaves of bread on the rack above the skillet and set the oven to 400° F. Allow the bread to bake as the oven comes to temperature, setting your timer to 30-35 minutes. 

it’s very traditional to use cornmeal instead of flour to prevent sticking. If you have cornmeal in your pantry, feel free to try it! I left it out because I didn’t want to buy an extra ingredient when using the combination of parchment + flour does the trick.

A slice of homemade bread with butter

What to Eat with Water Bread

Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy with pan de agua:

  • In a Cuban – this bread is perfect for a Cuban sandwich or any warm sandwich with melted cheese.
  • Fresh out of the oven – freshly baked bread straight from the oven is a luxury we enjoy far too little in life. Please do not hesitate to grab a bit of butter and have a moment with your bread.
  • With picadillo – if you’re familiar with Caribbean food, you know all about picadillo. This deliciously seasoned beef is excellent paired with pan de agua.
Water bread on a white table

Tools & Tips

Here’s are some tools & tips to help make this recipe a breeze:

  • Start early – because this bread takes 2 hours to rise and another 30+ to bake, it’s a good idea to get your yeast proofing as early as possible. This way you can enjoy your pan de agua all day!
  • Be patient – if you’ve ever kneaded bread before, you know it can feel like you’ve spent an eternity doing it. 10-15 minutes of kneading can feel like forever, so put some music on and enjoy the process!
  • Have 2 large mixing bowls clean and ready to go – I don’t know about you but if I don’t plan ahead, my bowls will all be dirty right at the moment I’m ready to start making this recipe. So don’t be like me, check ahead to make sure you’ve got 2 large mixing bowls ready to go! I love using these pyrex bowls that come with lids.
  • Storage – pan de agua can keep for up to a week if stored correctly. It really is best enjoyed fresh.
  • Make it vegan – use a bit of olive oil instead of egg whites for the egg wash as a plant based alternative.

Happy cooking!

Salima written in cursive
Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A plate of pan de agua with butter

Pan de Agua (Water Bread)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x
  • Category: side, appetizer
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Pan de Agua (also known as water bread) is a popular bread in the Caribbean. It’s easy to make and perfect for sandwiches or served warm with a dab of butter. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 packet (2.5 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (for the yeast)
  • 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 egg white (or 1 tsp olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Proof the yeast. Mix together the sugar and warm water before gently mixing in the yeast. Set aside for 20 minutes or until it looks foamy and thick on the top layer. Transfer proofed yeast to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast. In a measuring cup, measure out the flour and mix in the salt. One cup at a time, start incorporating the flour into the yeast mixture in the large bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon.
  3. Knead until no longer sticky. Once all the flour is added, move the mixture onto a clean, flour dusted surface. Using your hands, knead kneading the mixture with your hands for at least 20 minutes or until it no longer sticks to your hands (adding more four if needed).
  4. Rest for 2 hours. Prep a large bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil, transfer the dough into the bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours.
  5. Prep egg wash and divide the dough into 2 loaves. When the dough is almost fully rested, beat together the egg white and water and prep your work surface. Return the dough to your flour dusted work space and divide into two balls. Roll the balls into loaves about 1 foot in length.
  6. Prep loaves for baking by scoring & brushing with egg wash. Prep a parchment lined baking sheet by dusting with flour and place the loaves on top of the flour. Using a knife, score the tops of the loaves before brushing lightly with the egg white mixture.
  7. Bake. Bring a few cups of water to a boil in oven safe skillet. Once it’s boiling, add the skillet to the bottom rack in your oven. Place the pan with your loaves of bread on the rack above the skillet and set the oven to 400° F. Allow the bread to bake as the oven comes to temperature, setting your timer to 30-35 minutes.