After returning from my March visit to Mexico, I posted about the food experiences I enjoyed for weeks afterwards. But, it isn’t until now that I share with you my favorite discovery.

Every morning, we enjoyed an enormous breakfast buffet. Some mornings, I spooned up a delicious bowl of oatmeal. Other days, my plate was piled high with fried plantains, eggs and refried black beans. But, EVERY morning I drank strong cafe con leche and ate 1-2 pieces of sweet bread that I later learned was called Panque. Each day, there was a different variety of flavors of this dense, spongy bread from walnut to lemon to pistachio.

I was dying to know what made the bread so delectable and wanted to ensure I could make it when I returned home. So, I befriended the dining room manager and asked him for the recipe. Day after day, I reminded my new friend, Manuel, (with a friendly pushiness) how much I wanted that recipe! On the last day, when the restaurant was closing and my flight was hours from departure, I stopped in one last time to request the Panque recipe. Manuel scurried back into the kitchen saying he had it for me and would meet me by the pool. To my surprise, he DID show up at the pool clutching a handwritten recipe. It was in Spanish and a bit messy but it held the key to my precious breakfast addiction.

Looking down at the recipe, I read the first line…. “45 huevos.” A quick scan of the paper revealed that not only was it in Spanish and in metric measurements but it was a recipe for enough bread to feed the entire hotel. For all these reasons, the recipe stayed crumpled in my kitchen for months, waiting to be translated.

At the end of last week, I finally took pencil to paper and turned the Panque recipe into something I could follow. A sharpened pencil, a fancy calculator, this wonderful conversion chart, a kitchen scale and even some last minute long division brought the first Panque out of my oven.

I must admit, it was not as delicious as I remembered. Due to ingredients and the convoluted and converted path this recipe took from their kitchen to mine, it was bound to be a bit different. Never the less, it is a tasty cake-like bread that goes well with fresh berries, coffee or tea. If you are familiar with this bread (or pound cake which is what it really is – I just feel better about the caloric intake when I call it bread), please send me your recipe!

When the recipe was delivered to me, it was a bit scrawly and didn’t have many instructions with the ingredients. The only thing I could tell was the order to add each thing and surprisingly, the oil gets mixed in last.

5 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Optional add-ins:
lemon zest, pecans, raisins, pistachios, walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the sugar and eggs. Add the milk and vanilla. Blend the flour with the baking soda separately and add to the mixture. Once mixed, blend in the oil until incorporated. Stir in either zest of 2 lemons, or nuts and/or raisins. Pour batter into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake about 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.