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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Guatemalan Breads Once Again

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have been creating a breads cookbook, just for myself; a way of getting together all my bread recipes. As I was collecting  all the recipes I had made to date under the chapter for Guatemalan Breads, I started looking around the internet once again and found some more to try. The recipes I am posting here are, in the main, from a YouTube video by Recetas y Pasteles Lili. The whole video is in Spanish, and it is long, but very thorough. My recipe has minimal changes, and less steps, plus, it's in English, but my gratitude to "Lili" for the recipes and instructions.

Pan Dulce, Guatemalan Bread, Gusanitos, Gallinitas, Besitos
These breads, all three of them, are made from the same dough, and the same batch of sugar paste. They are fairly sweet, sweeter than most of the Guatemalan breads. But, they are really cute breads. One type is called Gallinitas, or "Little Hens." So called, because they supposedly represent the coxcomb (wrong sex, but hey!) with their little floppy looking tops. Another of these breads is called Besitos, or "Little Kisses," as they have an "X" cut into the top. The third of these breads are called Gusanitos, or "Little Worms," so called because of the segmented-looking bodies. If these don't sound inviting, just wait.

Since they are all made from the same dough(s), once the dough is made and ready, they simply need to be shaped. There is an interesting little trick to forming each of them, and only for the Besitos did I change the method, as Lili's method seemed cumbersome. These breads are just delightful with a cup of coffee, be it for breakfast or afternoon snack. Once trying out the methods they do become very easy. I hope you'll give them a try.

Pan Dulce (Gallinitas, Besitos and Gusanitos)

Makes 18 sweet rolls

Make the SUGAR PASTE: with hands or a small mixer, beat together the flour, sugar and lard or shortening until it is cohesive. Add in a tablespoon of water. It should have the consistency of dough. If not, add a tiny bit more water at a time until it can be formed easily, rolling out or making into a ball. Cover the bowl to prevent drying and set aside.

MAKE THE DOUGH: Place all ingredients for “dough” except the water into a heavy duty stand mixer or into a large bowl if mixing by hand. Run the mixer with paddle until the lard had dispersed well. Add in most (not all) of the water and begin mixing with the dough hook, or by hand. The dough should be very soft, but not so soft it cannot be handled. Add the remaining water if needed, to achieve this soft consistency. Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, then allow it to rest for 20 to 25 minutes. 

Turn the dough out onto a greased surface and divide the dough into 3 equal portions, by weight. Each portion will make 6 rolls. Set two portions aside, covered. Divide the last portion of dough into 6 equal pieces by weight.

To make “GALLINITAS:” Make each of the 6 pieces of dough into a log about 6 to 7-inches long. Take a piece of the sugar paste almost, but not quite, as big as the piece of dough and roll it into a similar length log. Set the sugar paste log on top of the dough log. Flatten the two pieces together, to a width of about 1.5 inches. No need to lengthen the log. Now, using a small knife or a metal bench scraper, slice through the stack, from the center to the wide edge, and repeating these cuts about every quarter-inch.

forming Gallinitas, stacking dough and sugar paste

forming Gallinitas, forming Guatemalan bread, pan dulce

From one short end, begin to roll up this piece, until you come to the end of the length. The bread is formed sideways, so turn the dough so the floppy ends are now the top and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat this process for the remaining five pieces of the dough,  setting them well-spaced, on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Pan Dulce Gallinitas, Guatemalan Pan Dulce
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To make “BESITOS:” Take the second portion of the dough and further divide it into 6 equal pieces by weight. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten the ball with hands to about 3½  to 4-inches in diameter. Take a small ball of the sugar paste and set it in the center of the dough circle, photo 1. Bring the dough up and around the sugar paste to completely encase it, pinching the ends so they stay closed. Turn the ball over so the seam is on the bottom, photo 2, and set this onto a parchment lined baking sheet. With clean scissors, snip across the top of the ball, photo 3. Now snip the top in the opposite direction, across the first cut, photo 4, and forming an “X in the dough, having cut through so the sugar paste is exposed, photo 5. Repeat this process with the remaining 5 balls of dough from this group, setting them well apart onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash, avoiding the open, cut surfaces.

forming Besitos, Guatemalan pan dulce
Guatemalan Sweet Breads, Besitos, Pan Dulce

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To make “GUSANITOS:” With the last of the 3 portions of dough, divide this into 6 equal pieces by weight. Take one piece and form a ball. Set the ball onto the oiled surface and flatten to a large, long oval, approximately 5 x 8”. Divide the remaining sugar paste into 6 pieces. Take one piece of the sugar paste and flatten as much as possible between the hands, then set this piece onto one end of the long oval of dough, leaving about ½-inch of dough exposed at the end, photo 1, below, ensuring that the paste just reaches the side edges. Make slices through the sugar paste and dough, starting about a third of the way up the dough, cutting into strips downward about every quarter to one-third inch apart, photo 2. Begin rolling the dough from the short end without the sugar paste, pressing each side to seal as you roll, photos 3, 4, 5. Once the roll is complete, photo 6, the cuts will reveal the insides and the segments will somewhat resemble a worm, or “gusanito.” Repeat this process with the remaining 5 pieces of dough and sugar paste. Set each Gusanito onto parchment lined baking sheets, well apart. Brush the dough with egg wash, but avoid getting the egg into the cut surfaces. Set aside, covered, and proof for at least 30 minutes. 

Forming Gusanitos, Guatemalan pan dulce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake all the breads for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for 10 minutes more, for a total of 25 minutes. If breads are on separate pans, bake one tray at a time.
Guatemalan Sweet Bread, Gusanitos, Pan Dulce


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest 

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