Saturday, March 12, 2016

Pandesal (Salt Bread)

Pandesal is a popular yeast-raised bread in the Philippines.  The name is derived from the Spanish "pan de sal" which means salt bread.  It is considered as a "poor man's bread" due to its simplicity.  It was invented during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines in the 16th century.  During the war era, it has become a cheap alternative for rice.

Pandesal is made with flour, eggs, yeast, sugar and salt.  Milk is not a traditional ingredient but it really makes the pandesal more tender and flavorful.  Individual loaves are shaped by rolling the risen dough into a baston (long log.)  It is rolled in fine bread crumbs, portioned and allowed to rise for a second time and then baked.  From the very simple salt bread, the pandesal has evolved into many different versions such as whole wheat pandesal, raisin pandesal and vegetable pandesal.

Pandesal has a light brown crust; slightly sweet aroma; soft, airy and chewy texture with a slightly crunchy crust; and contrary to its name, it is a little sweet rather than salty. It resembles the Puerto Rican bread, pan de agua and the Mexican bread, bolillo.

Most Filipino families do not have ovens in their homes but bakeries are bountiful in  every neighborhood.  Pandesal along with other baked breads and pastries are widely available from these bakeries.

Pandesal is usually served as a breakfast bread.  It is usually dipped in hot coffee. It is also served as a snack and accompaniment to soups and noodle dishes.  At times, pandesal is used as a sandwich bread where in not-so-typical sandwich fillings are used such as sauted corned beef, liver spread, fried egg, canned sardines, fried rice and ice cream.  Traditional spreads to pandesal include margarine or butter (often sprinkled with sugar) peanut butter and jams made with pineapple, mango, strawberry or coconut.


Prep Time: 90 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Yield:  32 pieces

  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup milk, lukewarm
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (separate 1 tablespoon for the yeast)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 piece raw egg
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (for dusting the surface when kneading)

  1. Combine the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm milk in a bowl.  Stir until sugar and yeast are  dissolved.  Allow 5 minutes to react.
  2. Meanwhile combine all the dry ingredients except for the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.
  3. Combine butter, egg and oil in a separate bowl.  Mix well.

  4. Pour the yeast mixture and the wet ingredients mixture over the flour mix.  Mix well to form a dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes or until the dough has  a smooth, supple and elastic texture.
  6. Put the dough back in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for an hour.
  7. Pre-heat the oven at 365 degrees F.
  8. Divide the risen dough into 4 equal pieces.  Shape each part into long logs or "baston" shape.  Roll each log in breadcrumbs to coat.  Diagonally slice each log into 8 equal pieces.
  9. Arrange the slices on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to rise again for 10 minutes.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 365 degrees F.
  11. Serve immediately.

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