In the Philippines, pandesal is arguably the most popular bread. It is a beloved breakfast that may be had on its own, dipped in coffee, or stuffed with nearly everything you can think of or any leftovers you have in your fridge, including hotdogs, corned beef, peanut butter, cheese, cheese spread, coconut jam, and cheese. Despite being more sweet than salty, the word “Pandesal” or “Pan de Sal” (in Spanish) literally means “salted bread”. It has a breadcrumb coating and is light and fluffy.
History of Pandesal
Since wheat is not native to the Philippines, bread is a comparatively recent addition to the country’s culinary repertoire. Portuguese colonists brought wheat to the country in the 1500s, and bread production soared after the entrance of Spanish settlers and the establishment of the first panaderia (or bakery) in the nation in the middle of the 1600s.
Because it was baked directly on the wood-fired oven floors back then, bread back then had a thicker crust and a tougher structure. The development of the modern pandesal can be attributed to the use of baking sheets, commercial yeast, and cheaper, reduced protein flour that were introduced over time.
Ingredients for making Pandesal
I conducted several tests before I was finally able to create the perfect Pandesal. I used all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast, milk, eggs, and butter in my first test batches. Although I enjoyed the richness that butter added, the initial batches of pandesal tasted more like crusty dinner rolls.
I replaced the butter with vegetable oil, added an extra yolk, and upped the milk and sugar content (here, the oil provides tenderness, the eggs add structure, flavor, and color, and the milk and sugar contribute color while improving shelf life). The result was what I consider to be my ideal pandesal—airy, plush, slightly sweet, and chewy.
- 555g (about 4 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 115g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 8g (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 60g 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
- Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix thoroughly on low speed until mixed. Add milk, oil, eggs, and egg yolk; mix for 2 minutes, or until a shaggy dough forms. Turn up the speed to medium and mix for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the bowl’s sides (it will still be sticky and glued to the bottom).
- Using a bowl scraper, transfer the dough to a big bowl that has been lightly greased, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let it sit until it has nearly doubled in size. Depending on the temperature, this can take about 90 minutes.
- Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet with a rim. Breadcrumbs should be placed in a large, shallow bowl. Before transferring it to a floured surface, do not deflate the dough. Make 16 equal servings, each weighing 65g. Cup the dough beneath your palm and quickly knead it to make a smooth ball, working with one portion at a time. Transfer a portion to the bowl of breadcrumbs, roll to coat it completely on all sides, then place it on the baking sheet you have prepared. Repeat with the remaining dough halves, separating them on the prepared baking sheet by approximately 1 inch each. Allow to rise for an hour or more at 75°F/24°C in a warm area before covering loosely with plastic wrap and allowing it to practically double in size. (Alternatively, cover securely with plastic wrap and chill for 10 to 12 hours, or until puffy and soft.)
- Set the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) thirty minutes before baking. Bake pandesal for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
- Serve immediately.