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Aug 28, 2018

Pan Blanco Cuencano {Cuenca's White Sandwich Rolls}

Pan Blanco Cuencano are anise-scented rolls from the Ecuadorian highlands region of Cuenca. They are typically served filled with roast pork.

Pan Blanco Cuencano

Pan Blanco Cuencano is a slightly sweet roll that is light and fluffy. They are naturally pale and beautifully scented with anise, which is infused in the milk in the recipe.

I was entranced by the flavor in these Ecuadorian rolls. I also loved learning about Cuenca, a city in Ecuador, from which these rolls originate. It's an Andean city and the third largest in Ecuador. Evidently it is also attracting U.S. retirees due to its charm, lifestyle, and cost of living.

Cuenca's White Sandwich Rolls

These sandwich rolls are pretty easy to make. If you want to be authentic, use freshly rendered lard in the dough. Butter is a great substitute.

I adapted this recipe in the book, Food of Latin America: Gran Cocina Latina by Maricel Precilla. It's a James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year. As a bread geek, I loved learning more about the leavened breads of Latin America, including this Cuban Bread.

Pan Blanco Cuencano {Cuenca's White Sandwich Rolls}

Pan blanco Cuencano are great for dinner rolls, but they're really meant to be used for sandwiches. I filled these with slow roasted pork on one day, and bacon and eggs the next day. So good.

After the recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the Progressive Eats recipes based on the theme, Latin American Food.

rolls, dinner rolls, bread
bread, rolls
Yield: 12 Rolls

Pan Blanco Cuencano {Cuenca's White Sandwich Rolls}


  • 2 cups whole milk, plus more for brushing the rolls
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly rendered lard or melted butter


  1. Add the milk and anise seeds to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for one minute. Cool the mixture to 110 degrees F and strain out the anise seeds. Add the yeast and stir. Set aside. 
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. 
  3. Add the milk and yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture and add the lard or butter. Add the flour mixture and stir with a dough whisk or large wooden spoon. 
  4. With the dough hook, mix the dough on medium low for 10 minutes. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours. 
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto your counter and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball by cupping it in the palm of your hand and rolling it quickly over the surface of your counter. Cover the balls with oiled plastic wrap while working with the rest of the dough. 
  7. Place the rolls on the baking sheets, and flatten the balls into 3-inch rounds. Let rise for one hour, loosely covered with oiled plastic wrap. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and set up a steam pan on the lowest rack of the oven and position the 2 other oven racks in the lower and upper third of the oven.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. 
  9. Brush the rolls with milk. Pour the boiling water into the steam pan, and slide the two pans of rolls into the oven onto the racks above the steam pan. Quickly close the oven door, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The rolls should be lightly golden. Cool the rolls on a wire rack before serving. 

Flavors of Latin America!

Main Courses
Side Dishes
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. Each recipe in our menu this month features the flavors of Latin America and our host this month is Karen who blogs at Karen's Kitchen Stories.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious Latin American dishes!
Pan Blanco Cuencano from Cuenca, Ecuador

Would you like to comment?

  1. Karen, you've done it again! Another marvelous bread! I'd love these smeared with butter, but for sandwiches would be wonderful, too!

    1. Warm bread with butter is always a good thing!

  2. In my gluten eating days, I would just eaten them with a smidgen of butter. Lovely looking bread!!

  3. You are always teaching me something! Being from South America, I feel I should know about these delicacies... but NO!

    gorgeous bread... so smooth!

    1. Thank you! I always worry about whether or not what I'm posting is true when I don't know first hand, ha ha.

  4. Wow, you are a bread guru - these are glorious!!

  5. Definitely making these over the weekend! We have 3 small questions(hope it's not too much trouble); here we go:
    a)is this a sticky dough (so we need to dust the countertop with flour, like with no-knead bread dough)?
    b)is the anise flavor strong in your opinion? anise-flavored breads are associated with sweetness here, so perhaps a mild aroma would be more appropriate for our Greek guests:)
    c)we usually cover bread dough with a kitchen towel, wet with warm water and squeezed and avoid plastic. As an expert baker (and our mentor in all things bread) do you think we should avoid it in this case?
    Sorry for asking so many things!!!
    Mirella and Panos

    1. Nice to see you! Here are the answers: a. This dough is not particularly sticky. You can knead by hand if you prefer. b) The anise flavor is not strong at all. Very mild. c) Go ahead and use the damp towel. That would be just fine!

  6. I continue to be amazed at the diversity and frequency of your great posts. Seems like more than a full time job! I find that I'm more successful when I bake using weights (preferably metric) - is it possible to include those in future posts?

    1. Hi Dave! I will definitely try, especially for flour and water and other dry ingredients.

  7. These are so lovely and so perfect! I could sure use a few lessons from you on bread baking!


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