Dominican gastronomy offers us unique and unforgettable dishes, with representative flavors of the Caribbean. How can we not emphasize the incredible variety of cultures that have influenced the culinary practice of the Dominican Republic? In traditional Dominican recipes it is possible to taste the entire history of this vibrant nation.
In previous articles we have revealed the secrets of The Best Dominican Desserts, El Mofongo and Chicharrones de Cerdo. Did you like these small gastronomic guides? Well congratulations, because in this new Food and Drinks entry , we bring you a lot of interesting culinary data. Have you ever tried a Dominican Pastel en Hoja? No? Okay, it’s okay, do you at least have any idea what this dish consists of? Dominican pastel en hoja is a true delicacy, and at YourDominicanGuide we want to expand its popularity. Here we tell you everything you need to know about it.
What is the Dominican pastel en hoja?
The pastel en hoja is one of those recipes that cannot be missing from the Dominican table during the December celebrations. And it is that a Christmas or New Year banquet is not complete without a good batch of pasteles en hoja. It is a preparation made from plantain or green banana, commonly stuffed with meat or chicken.
The dough for the Dominican pastel en hoja is soft, creamy and super tasty. On the other hand, its filling is abundant, and offers those who try it the best condiments of Dominican cuisine. The final touch is given by the banana leaf, which wraps and protects the cake batter while it cooks. The result is a delicacy whose mere memory will make your mouth water.A picture says more than a thousand words, right? We invite you to take a look at PastelEnHojaRD , an Instagram account that backs up our claims with appetizing photos.
Are Dominican pastel en hoja and tamales the same thing?
The easy answer is no: the Dominican pastel en hoja and the tamales are not the same. However, it is true that both dishes share certain similarities. Not to go too far, the preparation of the tamales and the pastel en hoja is almost identical. Both the tamales and the Dominican cake are wrapped in vegetable leaves. In addition, their masses undergo a similar process. However, the ingredients and other details differ .
While the dough for the tamales are made from corn, the dough for the Dominican cake is made with green plantain or cassava. On the other hand, unlike Dominican pastries, tamales are usually wrapped in corn husks. While it is true that banana leaves are used in some regions of Mexico, this is not as common as in the Dominican Republic.Preparations such as pastel en hoja and tamale are very common throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The Ecuadorian humita , the Puerto Rican dough cakes and the Venezuelan hallaca are some examples of this.
Is pastel en hoja an exclusive dish from the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican pastel en hoja recipe is unique, that being said, Puerto Rican pastels have a lot of similarities. Considering that both countries have been exposed to the same influences, such a coincidence is not too surprising. If an exhaustive review of the gastronomic traditions of both nations is carried out, it is possible to find more and more common points. And the same applies to the Caribbean in general.Still, the subtle variations from cymbal to cymbal make it impossible to lump them all under one label. Although recipes like Dominican pastel en hoja and Puerto Rican pastel masa may seem the same, they are not. In short, these delicacies each deserve to be considered on their own .
Origins of the Dominican the pastel en hoja
You may be wondering, why do so many Caribbean dishes share these similarities? Where does the tradition of wrapping these masses in banana or corn leaves come from? Okay, so this is a culinary practice that all of these nations have inherited from their native peoples. Many indigenous civilizations of the Caribbean had the custom of wrapping all kinds of food in vegetable leaves.
The idea was to compress and protect the food, making it easier to cook, store and handle. Later, with the arrival of the European colonizers, these dishes evolved to adapt to new ingredients and preparation methods. The addition of slightly heavier beef stews is probably influenced by the Spanish and French conquistadors.
The reason why the Dominican pastel en hoja is made with banana leaves and not corn has to do with the Tainos . These were the original inhabitants of what is now known as the Dominican Republic, a tribe from the mouth of the Orinoco River. Being the Taínos an Arhuaco people, it is natural that they were more familiar with the banana or banana leaf.
On the other hand, on the Island of Hispaniola, whose territory is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, banana trees abound instead of cornfields. As you can see, even these types of ancient traditions have their pragmatic side.
Dominican pastel en hoja recipe
Now that you are aware of all the historical-cultural context about this dish, it is likely that you are dying to know how it is prepared. Not to mention more! Let’s jump right into the technical aspects for the preparation of the Dominican pastel en hoja.
Ingredients and utensils
For the traditional beef stew
- 1 pound (454 gr) of ground beef.
- 1 cup (115 ml) tomato paste.
- 2 tablespoons (approximately 20 ml) of olive oil.
- 1 red or purple onion.
- 3 garlic cloves.
- 1 pepper.
- 1 sprig of fresh cilantro.
- ½ teaspoon pepper.
- 1 ½ of salt.
For the cake dough
- 1 green plantain (weighing about ½ pound after peeling).
- ⅓ pound (151 gr) of white yautía, also known as malanga, ocumo or otoe.
- ⅓ pound of auyama (pumpkin).
- 1 cup (237 ml) of cow’s milk.
- 2 tablespoons (about 28 gr) of butter.
- 1 tablespoon of achiote (bija/onoto) powder.
- 1 tablespoon seasoning powder.
- 1 ½ of salt.
To wrap the pasteles
- 12 banana leaves cut into 13x13cm squares.
- 12 sheets of baking paper.
- Kitchen thread.
- Hot sauce.
Of the stew
Pour the oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Next, add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion turns translucent. Add the ground beef, mix well and cook until browned.
Add the tomato paste, the already chopped pepper, the salt and the pepper. Stir so that all the ingredients are properly incorporated into the stew. Then cover and let cook for 3 more minutes. After this time, turn off the stove and reserve.
Of the dough
Grate the plantain, the auyama and the yautía using the finer side of the grater. Next, combine all the ingredients for the dough and mix well. Press the dough with your hands and integrate with enveloping movements until you get a homogeneous mixture.
With blender or food processor
Peel and cut the plantain, the auyama and the yautía into small cubes and take them to the processor along with the other ingredients for the dough. Blend until smooth and lump-free (approximately 5-10 minutes). The end result should have a slightly gritty texture.
Assembly and wrapping
- Wash and cut the leaves into 13×13 cm squares.
- Place 2 ½ tablespoons of dough in the center of each sheet, add 2 tablespoons of filling and top with 2 more tablespoons of dough.
- Fold the sheet in the shape of an envelope and wrap it in turn in a sheet of baking paper. Use kitchen twine to secure the wrap and repeat the process with the other sheets.
- Pour 1 gallon (3.785 liters) of water into a large cauldron and heat over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and wait until it reaches the boiling point.
- When the water is already boiling, place the cakes in the water. Cover and let them cook for about 40 minutes.
- Every so often, take a look at the cakes and turn them so they cook evenly.
- After 40 minutes, remove one of the cakes from the pot and uncover it to make sure it is well cooked. If it’s still missing, cook for about 10 more minutes. If not, you can serve the rest right away.
- The plating of this recipe is very simple. You can serve each cake on a plate, using the leaves that wrap them as a decorative element. You can also draw a pattern with the ketchup and hot sauce for an extra touch. To eat!
- The ingredients used for the preparation of the Dominican pastries en hoja are very common throughout the Dominican Republic. However, if you are abroad it is recommended that you plan all the logistics in advance.
- Weighing the bananas after you peel them will allow you to more accurately estimate how much dough you will end up with. Of course, over time you will gain experience and you will be able to calculate it by eye.
- Some people prefer to use green bananas instead of plantains. Likewise, not everyone likes to add pumpkin to the batter or ketchup to the cake after it is served. Keep in mind that this dish has many variations and that you can adapt the recipe to your own tastes.
- In general, only banana leaves or baking paper are used. However, using both gives cakes a completely waterproof coating. On the other hand, the banana leaves give the cake an incomparable color, aroma and taste.
- Although the most common filling is beef, Dominican pastries are very versatile , accommodating a variety of ingredients. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Don’t panic if the dough is quite runny before cooking. This will help make the cakes smooth and creamy.
Do you still have doubts? Luckily for you, we have decided to clarify the most common doubts that we have found on the web about this recipe.
Can pasteles en hoja be frozen?
Clear! Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat all the cakes in one sitting. These exquisite cakes can be put in the freezer without losing their characteristic flavor or consistency. Of course, you must make sure that they are well wrapped . On the other hand, it is not recommended that you freeze the dough without filling.
What is the best way to reheat a Dominican pastel en hoja?
If the cake has been in the fridge for a short time, just heat it up for about 2 minutes in the microwave. On the contrary, if it has been frozen in the freezer for a while, it is best to boil it in salted water.
How long should I boil a previously frozen pastel en hoja?
The ideal cooking time for an already frozen pastel en hoja is at least 1 hour . Ideally, start taking the time from when the water reaches the boiling point.
Have we not been able to answer any of your questions? We invite you to take a look at Darianny’s video tutorial, a Dominican chef who will be more than happy to share her recipe with you. Here is the link to his YouTube video.
Where to buy the best pasteles en hoja in the Dominican Republic?
The truth is that not all of us are very good at the culinary arts. Even if this isn’t the case for you, chances are you’re not always in the mood to cook. Nothing happens, luckily today we have a lot of options that make our lives easier. Below we share a Top 3 of the best restaurants to eat pasteles en hoja in the Dominican Republic.
Amable Pasteles en Hoja
Are you on vacation in the Dominican Republic or planning to be soon? At Amable Pasteles En Hojas you will find the best Dominican pastries on the entire island.
Amable Pasteles En Hojas has been serving its exquisite delicacies to the inhabitants of San Pedro de Macorís since 1967. Today, thanks to the ingenuity and tireless dedication of its founder, Mr. Amable Mateo Tejada, this iconic restaurant has several branches throughout throughout the country.
If you visit Santo Domingo, you can try the delicious pasteles en hoja at their El Millón branch, on Winston Arnaud street. You can also find them in the Dominican corner of Sambil de Sto. Sunday, located on Av. John. FKennedy. Would you like to visit San Pedro de Macorís? There you will find the first headquarters inaugurated by Amable Pasteles En Hojas, on General Cabral Street, in front of Parque Duarte.For more information, visit the official portal of Amable Pasteles En Hojas and take a look at their Instagram account . You will not regret!
La Fábrica Pastel en Hoja
Another excellent alternative to eat a delicious Dominican cake en hoja is this famous restaurant called La Fábrica Pastel En Hoja. It is an establishment very frequented by the community of Santo Domingo, with a rate of 4.7 stars on Google Maps. Customers who review La Fábrica Pastel En Hoja praise the friendliness of its waiters and the good quality of its food.The Pastel En Hoja Factory is located on Calle Barney N. Morgan, in the National District of Santo Domingo. Its opening hours are from 11:00 noon to 11:00 at night, with take-away service and consumption in the place. Here we leave you its official facebook page and the link to the information offered by Google Maps .
De Ive Empanadas Y Pasteles En Hojas
On Calle 19 de Marzo in Santo Domingo you will find our third option to eat a delicious Dominican pastel en hoja. It is a slightly more humble restaurant than the previous ones, but with an excellent quality service.
De Ive Empanadas y Pasteles En Hoja offers consumption in place and attention to orders from the car. This picturesque business works from Monday to Sunday, with business hours that go from 7:30 am to 10:00 pm.The score and reviews left by users on Google Maps for this establishment are also very positive. If you are interested, you can take a look at the summary offered by this company and the official portal De Ive Empanadas y Pasteles En Hoja.
Many people visit the Dominican Republic with the idea of visiting its paradisiacal beaches and luxury hotels. These are wonders that you will undoubtedly find on the island. However, many tourists are surprised to realize how exquisite the Dominican seasoning is. Are you thinking of traveling to this beautiful country? Do not forget to taste their typical dishes!In the Related Articles section you will find links to a variety of articles that will help you plan your visit to the island. The best restaurants, the most exquisite dishes and much more. Plan your trip with YourDominicanGuide. Thanks for reading us!