It’s a subject that wasn’t much talked about for generations, but the hushed mouths couldn’t keep the food customs from spreading. Throughout many areas of Mexico, there are traditions of not eating meat with dairy, or not eating pork. If you ask the people why they keep these odd habits, they may be unable to explain the reasons. However, if there is a recipe for Pan de Semita in the family, it may be the case that these are the descendants of the crypto-Jews that fled Spain during the inquisition.
Popular along the Texas border, Pan de Semita is eaten by everyone. Yet, it is almost impossible to find a written recipe for the unleavened bread. As for the Pan de Semita made in Michoacan, the only information I could find was that it is slightly sweet, very dense and smooth textured, and doesn’t have sesame seeds on top. It is unlike the other semitas that are commonly used to make sandwiches such as the ever popular Cemitas Poblanas, and quite different than the Salvadoran Semita that has a layer of fruit filling in the middle. So, starting with the most basic word-of-mouth ingredients, flour, water, butter or olive oil, I decided I’d give it a try, and while I was at it, why not go gluten free? Now, the final product may be nothing like the pan de semita from Michoacan, but it is slightly sweet, dense and perfect to sit down and enjoy with a cafecito or Chai tea. My family is still begging me to bake another one. Try the recipe, and you’ll see why.
1 ½ cups King Arthur All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour
½ cup gluten-free oat flour
¾ cup water
½ stick butter
½ cup shaved piloncillo
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. chipotle powder/ cocoa blend
1 tsp. allspice
¾ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup dried cherries
¼ cup dried cranberries
Sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
Extra cinnamon and piloncillo for topping (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the egg and piloncillo.
3. Add the flours, salt and spices. Add the water and mix well.
4. Melt the butter and mix it into the dough. If the dough seems too moist, add a little more oat flour.
5. Once the dough is well mixed, add the dried fruit and nuts.
6. Spread into a prepared glass pan, or use parchment paper to line the pan. Spread the dough out in the pan so it is flat and even.
7. Place in the oven for 40 minutes.
8. If you desire, sprinkle a thin layer of piloncillo and cinnamon over the top and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
9. Let cool. Pour a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy!