Blessed Miguel Pro "Cocol" Sweetbread

November 23 - Optional Memorial of Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro

Miguel Pro was a Jesuit priest and martyr during the severe persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the early 20th century. He is known for his piety, charity, service and joyful spirit. He often donned disguises to hide his identity from Mexican authorities as he conducted his underground ministry as a priest. He was martyred by firing squad on November 23, 1927 proclaiming "Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!) 

As a child he had a precociousness that sometimes went too far, resulting in near-death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, and seeing the worried faces of his parents, he immediately asked for some of his favorite Mexican sweet bread, referred to as cocol. From this he acquired his childhood nickname "Cocol." Later while exercising his secret ministry as a priest, Father Pro signed many of his letters "Cocol." It reminded people not only of the treat, but also of the living bread of the Eucharist.

Cocol is an authentic Mexican bread that dates back to the arrival of the Spanish in the New World. The indigenous people were unfamiliar with the types of breads that were important parts of European diets at the time. The native Mexican staple breads were maize-based flat breads. The Spanish introduced the methods of grinding wheat, mixing, and baking bread dough and later on the Mexican people added their own ingredients commonly used at the time. Cocol bread has the distinction of being the oldest bread recipe in Mexico due to this meeting of the Aztec and Spanish cultures.

Cocol Recipe  (From Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ site )
  • 4 c. flour
  • l pkg. active dry yeast
  • l c. anise tea
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, margarine, or shortening
  • l tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • poppy seeds (optional)
Prepare the anise tea by boiling 1 c. water and 3 tsp. anise seeds. Boil for a few minutes and strain out the seeds. (You can leave the seeds in if you like.) Add the sugar, butter and salt to the tea. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. When tea mixture is lukewarm, add to the flour/yeast. Add eggs. Beat well. Stir in remaining flour and knead to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about ten minutes. Shape dough into a ball. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface of dough. Cover and let rise for one hour. Punch down. Divide dough into 10 or 15 pieces and shape each into a small ball. On lightly floured surface, roll or pat each piece into a circle about three inches in diameter. Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. If you wish, brush the tops with a small amount of butter and sprinkle poppy seed on top of each cocol. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.

Bake some cocol to celebrate the feast of Bl. Miguel Pro and also the Feast of Christ the King which is the same week. 

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