I’m not so sure if the Philippines has a national bread but if it does, it would be pandesal.
What is pandesal exactly?
It is a small bun characterized by the coating of fine bread crumbs. Despite its name (pan de sal is Spanish for salt bread), pandesal is sweet. Next to rice, it’s everyone’s favorite breakfast. Speedy likes dunking his pandesal in his coffee, I cringe at the practice because I don’t like eating wet bread. Makes me feel like a fish because it reminds me of how we threw pieces of stale bread in the fish pond when we were kids.
For us who live in the Philippines, we have easy access to pandesal anytime of the day. Even in the dead of night, in fact, as there are bakeries that are open 24 hours a day. But for many Filipinos who grew up here but have migrated elsewhere, the craving for pandesal is hard to satisfy because it is not a staple in bakeries abroad. The most logical solution, of course, is to bake pandesal at home.
It’s a daunting project for many but, take it from someone who knew next to nothing about baking until a couple of years ago, it’s not that hard. As with anything else, it takes practice but pandesal is not something delicate like souffle so perfecting the art of pandesal baking can be more easily learned.
First, make the dough.
When the dough has rested and risen, divide into four portions to make handling and cutting easier.
Cut each portion into six pieces.
Roll each piece of dough in bread crumbs.
Bake and your homemade pandesal is ready.
Pandesal (home baked, of course)
Prepare the dough following the instructions for the basic bread recipe click and print that recipe too).
After the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured working surface. Roll into a log then cut into four equal pieces. This is for convenience and easier handling.
Take one portion of dough and roll again into a log. Cut into six pieces. Do the same for the other three portions of the dough. You now have 24 pieces of dough.
Roll each piece of dough in bread crumbs. Arrange on a baking tray at least an inch apart. Leave to rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
About 10 minutes before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 325F.
Bake the pandesal for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned outside.
The pandesal should be lightly crusty outside but soft and slightly chewy inside. Serve warm. With butter or cheese. Or split and fill with all your favorite fillings.