For this recipe, I made smaller versions in reminiscence of the pandesal I had in the Philippines.
When I was seven years old my parents and I immigrated to the US, but I clearly remember those early mornings where a fresh batch of pandesal was delivered by the front gate of our house. The outside of the paper bag was warm to the touch, and inside contained about a dozen small, sweet-smelling pandesal…
Pandesal is a popular yeast-raised bread in the Philippines. Individual loaves are shaped by rolling the dough into long logs (bastón) which are rolled in fine bread crumbs. These are then portioned, allowed to rise, and baked.
It is most commonly served hot and consumed by dipping in coffee. It can also be complemented with butter (or margarine), cheese, jam, or peanut butter.
In history, the precursor of pandesal was pan de suelo (“floor bread”), a local Spanish-Filipino version of the French baguette baked directly on the floor of a wood-fired oven (a pugon). It was made with wheat flour and was harder and crustier than pandesal. Since wheat is not natively produced in the Philippines, bakers eventually switched to more affordable inferior flour resulting in the softer, doughy texture of pandesal.
Pandesal flourished during the American Commonwealth of the Philippines in the early 1900s, when cheaper American wheat became more readily available. It has since become a staple breakfast bread in the Philippines.