Pandesal is the most popular bread in the Philippines for a good reason! With golden, crumb-coated exterior, slightly sweet taste, and soft, fluffy texture, this Filipino-style bread roll is delicious on its own or with your choice of filling. Perfect for breakfast or as a snack!
Although I am comfortable with pie crusts and do well with simple coconut macaroons, cheese cupcakes, and chocolate cupcakes, I find baking with yeast a whole different kind of beast. But since one can’t have a Filipino cooking blog and not have a recipe for the most popular Filipino bread, I stepped out of my comfort zone and set out to make the best homemade pandesal ever which I found on Lisa’s Salu-salo blog.
After baking a batch today following her recipe and enjoying a couple of pieces slathered with copious amounts of Chez Whiz, I realized, sometimes, our fears become our limits. Making pandesal is not as difficult as I thought. In fact, the hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise!
Why is it Called Pan de Sal?
Pan de sal which is Spanish for bread of salt is traditionally made with wheat flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt added to the dough. Over the years, ingredients such as eggs, milk, and butter were incorporated to the basic recipe resulting in a sweeter than salty flavor.
Pandesal is the staple bread of the Philippines. Widely enjoyed throughout the day for breakfast, as a snack or as part of a larger meal, its place in our cuisine is almost synonymous to that of rice.
While the soft, fluffy rolls are fantastic on their own, it’s also common to serve them with coffee for dipping or with choice of fillings such as cheese, coconut jam, margarine/butter, and peanut butter. My personal favorite is stuffing them to the brim with pancit bihon guisado. So good!
For variety, you can also bake the bread buns with meat fillings such as shredded chicken adobo, flaked tuna or sauteed corned beef.
How to Know if the Bread Dough Has Been Adequately Kneaded
- The dough turns from shaggy to smooth. It will lose its stickiness and will only be tacky to the touch.
- The dough is elastic. To test, take a little portion of the dough and stretch it out with your fingers. It should be thin and translucent in the center.
- The dough forms a dimple after you poke a finger in the surface then springs back up again.
Tips for Making Pandesal
- Make sure the temperature of the water used for proofing is within 95 F to 115 F as hot liquids (about 120 F and above) will kill the yeast.
- The purpose of activating or proofing the yeast is to ensure it’s alive and active before proceeding with the recipe. If bubbles don’t appear on the surface of the mixture after about 6 to 10 minutes, it might be the liquid is too hot or the yeast is too old.
- You will need 4 1/4 cups of flour for the dough and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup when kneading. Add the remaining flour sparingly and just until the dough is manageable. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.
- Yeast grows and multiplies best at 75 F to 85 F. If your house is too cold, turn on the oven to the lowest setting for about 2 minutes, turn off, and place the dough in the center of the oven to rise.
- If you prefer the cylindrical shape of traditional pandesal, divide the dough into two parts and shape each into long baton with 4 to 5-inch diameter. Cut each baton horizontally into 12 portions.
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 package (1/4 ounces) active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 ounces butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 4 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 to 1/2 cup more for kneading
- 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
- In a large bowl, combine water and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until mixture becomes bubbly. Stir well.
- In a small bowl, combine milk, butter, eggs, sugar, and salt. Stir together until incorporated.
- Add milk mixture and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture. Using an electric mixer, beat to combine.
- Gradually add the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour in 1/2 cup increments and continue to combine all ingredients.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn over dough and knead, sparingly adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary, for about 10 minutes or until smooth, supple and elastic.
- In a lightly oiled large bowl, place dough. Cover with film and allow to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until double in size.
- On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough and divide into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and roll on breadcrumbs to coat.
- Arrange balls about 1-inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until double in size.
- Bake in a 350 F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.