It has become a common food item in the Philippines. Its taste and texture closely resemble those of the Puerto Rican bread pan de agua and Mexican bolillos. These breads all use a lean type of dough and follow similar techniques learnt from Spaniards or Spanish-trained bakers early in their history. Despite the Spanish origins of its name, pandesal was introduced in the Philippines in the 16th century. Pandesal originally started out as a plain roll, traditionally served for breakfast and accompanied by butter, cheese, scrambled eggs or filled omelette, sausages, bacon, Spanish sardines, jams, jellies and marmalade, coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Pandesal can be made from any type of dough and still resemble pandesal as long as the dough is rolled in fine breadcrumbs before baking. The softness of the newer type of pandesal—which consumers unaware of the proper texture now find desirable—is due to a weak dough structure derived from inferior quality flour.
A couple of pandesal variety I made for you are Ube Pandesal and Coconut Pandesal.
Makes about 18 Rolls
- 3 cups bread flour; plus additional as needed
- 2 envelopes active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for the bowl
- 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
NOTES: For the ube— you will need 1/2 cup ube (purple yam) flour (You can purchase this from any Asian supermarket, i.e. Ranch 99, Seafood City supermarkets, etc.) to include with the ingredients above.
For the coconut— you will need one cup bakers coconut, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 teaspoons butter. Heat it up in a separate pan; set aside for later use.
- In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine half of the bread flour (and all of the ube flour, if you are making the ube pandesal). If not, proceed to step 2.
- Add the yeast, salt and sugar. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of warm water (90°F – 100°F) and mix to form a smooth batter. Blend in the butter.
- Change the mixer attachment to the dough hook. With the hook in motion, add the remaining bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has worked into a rough mass that easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl**
- Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Punch down to deflate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise a second time until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
- Punch down once more and cut the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, form about 18 equal rolls (weighing about 2 ounces each) Roll the balls in bread crumbs to coat and place on a baking sheet. Cover loosely with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
- During the final rise, preheat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the rolls with more bread crumbs and transfer to the oven.
- Bake until lightly browned and hard on the bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
**NOTE: If you are making the ube pandesal, you will achieve this easily; whereas, if you making the regular pandesal it will call for adding extra bread flour until you achieve a rough mass that easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You can also take it out and add more bread flour manually to achieve the rough mass.