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Pandesal (Filipino Bread Roll)

by A Bee In My Bonnet
6 minutes read

Welcome to the Panaderia!

This post is a part of the #panaderia series, which showcases various Filipino breads and pastries. Want to learn how to bake something other than pandesal? Check out the other posts in the tag.

It would be remiss of me if I started off the #panaderia series with something other than pandesal. Pandesal is the king of Filipino breads – it’s sold in every panaderia in the country and not one panaderia will leave off selling pandesal to hungry customers every day. 

Now there are so many versions of this bread that’s come out recently: malunggay (moringa) pandesal, corned beef pandesal, ube (purple yam) pandesal, and the pandemic favorite – cream cheese pandesal. This post will focus on the plain but definitely not inferior pandesal

The Origin Story

The term pandesal comes from Spanish – pan de sal – which means salt bread. While the original iteration of this bread may be on the salty side, the most common version of this bread currently slightly leans towards the sweet side. 

Interestingly, while pandesal is the undisputed king of Filipino breads now, it was the pan de suelo that was the original tinapay (bread) across the islands.  

My Ideal Pandesal

The recipe that I’ve been using consistently when I crave for pandesal is a result of countless experiments for several years. The first time I made pandesal, it was so hard and dense that you could hurt someone if you decide to throw one at them. At that time, I had just started baking and didn’t know anything beyond turning on my newly bought Kitchenaid stand mixer (I was optimistic). While that version is useful for self-defense, it’s not exactly something that you’d want to eat. 

So what is my ideal pandesal? To start off, it would have to be soft, fluffy, and tasty. Many a time I have eaten pandesal that tastes like cardboard, hard, and coarse that even dipping it in coffee doesn’t improve the quality by much. 

How to Make Pandesal

Making pandesal is easy and uncomplicated. The ingredients are easy to get and it doesn’t require any special equipment. While I do use a stand mixer to knead the dough, it’s definitely not a requirement. It just makes it easier and less sticky for me. 

My recipe for pandesal uses all-purpose flour only. There are other versions that use bread flour, but I want my pandesal to be less chewy and dense. Besides, not many of us would have both types of flour on hand at all times. 

I also want to touch on the topic of the type of yeast in this recipe. The one I have is instant yeast but maybe what you have in your cupboard is active, dry yeast. Do take note that if you are using active, dry yeast, that you’d have to activate it in lukewarm liquid before using whereas instant yeast can be added directly with the other dry ingredients. So check what kind you have and see the slight modification in the recipe for active, dry yeast. 

How to Enjoy Pandesal

Simple! Pandesal is a versatile bread roll that can be eaten for almusal (breakfast) or meryenda (midday snack).  We Filipinos usually eat pandesal with our hot coffee or tsokolate (hot chocolate). We take a piece of pandesal and sawsaw (dip) it in coffee. Trust me, it sounds weird that we “wash” our bread in coffee, but it’s so, so  good. 

Apart from that, you can also slice the pandesal in half and spread your favorite jam or peanut butter. Adding a slice of cheese is also A-OK. 

An Oopsie...an Unintentional Focaccia

I haven’t baked for a long time and I mindlessly followed the recipe to a tee. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem but I forgot to account for the humidity inside the house while I was mixing the dough. 

How would that be a problem? Well, I got a very soft and sticky dough. I should have taken note of how wet the dough looked before I dumped the rest of the liquid ingredients, but alas, I didn’t. I added a few more tablespoons of flour but it still was softer that what I normally would expect. It was OK after proofing and baking though, so all’s well that ends well. 

Anyway, if you are baking somewhere hot and humid, you may not need to add all the liquid. Keep an eye on the dough during kneading!

Ready to whip up some pandesal? Check the recipe below!

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Pandesal (Filipino Bread Rolls)

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  • Author: A Bee In My Bonnet
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 12 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x
  • Category: Filipino, Asian, Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Filipino

Ingredients

Scale

240 ml milk (1 cup)

2 eggs, large

480 grams all-purpose flour (4 cups)

35 grams powdered milk (1/4 cup)

83 grams caster sugar (3/8 cup)

2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

57 grams unsalted butter (1/4 cup), softened

For dusting:

28 grams breadcrumbs  (1/4 cup)

Instructions

  1.  In a small bowl, combine milk and eggs, beating gently. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast, and salt until combined.
  3. Slowly add the milk and egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Knead for a few minutes until the dough clumps.
  4. Add butter in batches while kneading constantly. Knead until the windowpane stage or when the dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Form  into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Punch down to slightly deflate the dough.
  7. There are 2 ways to form the pandesal. Option 1: Roll the dough into a rectangle. Starting with the long nearest you, roll into a log and pinch the ends to seal. Cut into 24 pieces, slicing diagonally. Roll each piece in bread crumbs and place onto a baking sheet with the cut side up. Option 2: Divide the dough equally into 24 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and roll each in bread crumbs before placing onto a baking sheet .
  8. Cover the pandesal and let it rest for 30 minutes or until the pandesal doubles in size.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Bake the pandesal for 12 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

Notes

  • If you are using active, dry yeast, don’t forget to activate it first. Heat the milk until lukewarm (not hot as that will kill off the yeast) and add the sugar. Dissolve the yeast and wait for 5-10 minutes before adding to the other dry ingredients.
  • Windowpane  means if you take a piece of dough and stretch it across your fingers, it doesn’t break and you can see a bit of light coming through.  See this post for more info.

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