This recipe is one of my dad’s favorite desserts! My grandma Josie used to make it for him all the time! Even when my dad left home to go into the Navy back in the early 60’s, he would come home to visit and she would whip up a pot of it for him!
You might be thinking, “what the heck is Panocha?”. That is a perfectly normal reaction when people hear about this dish. Heck, when I first heard about it being my dad’s favorite, I said the same thing!
Panocha is a traditional Native American dish that came from my ancestors centuries ago. Panocha, in New Mexico and southern Colorado, is a pudding made from ground sprouted wheat and piloncillo (sugar). It is traditionally eaten during Lent. The sprouted-wheat flour is called “panocha flour” or simply “panocha”, as well.
My Grandma passed this recipe down to my aunts, and now it has been passed down to me!
Although I usually try to bake and cook in a healthy and mostly THM (trim healthy mama) way, there are just some recipes (especially traditional family recipes) that just shouldn’t be changed! This is one of them.
(Don’t get me wrong, I will probably try to THMify this eventually, just so I can eat it all the time! It’s that good!).
Traditionally, this recipe is more of a pudding consistency, but ours came out a little thick…which I actually liked. My Aunt Naomi taught me how to make this last week, and it was so much fun seeing the process. It is a little time consuming, but it is so cool to be able to make something that my ancestors from centuries ago actually made all the time. There is just something cool about thinking of how Native Americans from so long ago used to go about making this, without modern kitchen tools.
First, you need to get a large bowl and sift the flour. We used a mix of whole wheat flour and sprouted whole wheat flour. If you go to a Mexican market, they will probably have panocha flour (which is basically just sprouted whole wheat flour).
Sift the two flours together.
Boil a kettle full of water (about 4 1/2 cups).
Meanwhile, brown the sugar (we used regular dark brown sugar and white sugar) in a large pan. It’s a delicate process because you don’t want to burn it. Make sure to keep mixing! The “browning” of the sugar gives it that unique taste.
Be sure to continue mixing the sugars until it caramelizes. Add some of the boiling water (about 2 cups) to the sugar mix and turn down heat to low. Cover and let sit on low for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the rest of the boiling water (about 2 1/2 cups) to the flour mix. Stir until well dissolved. Add the flour mix to the sugar mix and stir until well mixed. Add the butter and mix until fully melted.
After everything is mixed together well, our mixture into buttered baking dish (that has a lid). Place in oven and bake 300 degrees for about 3 hours, stirring every 45 minutes to an hour.
Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or milk.
Note: Contemporary additions to panocha include a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and or vanilla. A tablespoon or two of butter gives extra richness. Any of these additions should be made at the conclusion of the panocha’s cooking time on the stove, just prior to baking.
This dessert/breakfast is so rich in history and is chock full of flavor! I love the creaminess of this dish, and my kids especially loved eating it. It is a hearty and delicious dessert/breakfast; perfect for growing kids!
I hope that when I make this dish, my grandma Josie will be looking down from heaven smiling at me.
Love you Grandma Josie!
Yields 15-20 servings
A rich and decadent dessert or breakfast! A traditional Native American dish.
15 minPrep Time
3 hrCook Time
3 hr, 15 Total Time
- 2 1/2 cups sprouted whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Optional: Cream, whipped cream, cinnamon or butter for toppings.
- In large bowl: Sift the two flours together, making sure to get any chunks of flour out.
- Turn stove on to medium/high heat.
- On stove in Medium pan or dutch oven, Brown the sugar.
- Add in boiling water (2 cups). Mix well until dissolved, and then turn stove down to low.
- Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the rest of boiling water to the flours, mix well.
- Add flour and water mixture to the sugar mixture.
- Mix all well until well mixed.
- Add to buttered baking dish.
- Cover and bake for 3 hours.
- Mix every 45 minutes or 1 hour.
- Once baked, should have a thick pudding consistency.
- Seve warm with optional toppings.