I have been putting off for many years learning how to make Pan de Sal. Why? because it was so easy to just have it bought in the local Panederia (Bakery). But with so many creative bakers out there, the Pan de Sal has lost it’s soul.
The Pan de Sal of my youth was a small fist sized crusty roll that was soft on the inside. My grandmother, Lola Charing, would tear off a bit from the bread and dunk it in her coffee and into her mouth. The only place that I can still have the original Pan de Sal is in Baguio City.
I searched for the original recipe of the Pan de Sal and when I tested them out they fell short of my childhood memories. So instead, I decided to think where in heaven’s name did the Filipinos get the recipe of Pan de Sal. It’s not an original Filipino recipe since we don’t grow wheat. I started to compare what the Pan de Sal is like to other foreign breads and thought of the French Baguette. Except for the size, and bread crumbs that the Pan de Sal had, it was a shrunken French Bread. I started to look for the best recipe of the French Bread that I could lay my hands on and came up with this.
As I anticipated, one makes bread, any type of bread, when one has the time and just wants to relax by using one’s hands. Making bread is a whole day affair; almost! For this Pan de Sal, start making the ‘sponge’ the night before; prepare the sponge so that it has time to get that flavor. I also suggest that you use a stand mixer because you want to relax and not curse at the length of time that you have to knead the dough.
Pan de Sal buns
The pandesal is a common bread in the Philippines. This is my version of the classic Pan de Sal of my youth turned into buns for uniformity and convenience.
- 75 grams all purpose flour and bread flour mixed
- 75 grams warm water (110ºF or 43ºC)
- ⅛ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 300 grams bread flour
- 200 grams all purpose flour
- 250 grams warm water (110ºF or 43ºC)
- 25 grams butter melted
- 50 grams whole egg (1 large egg)
- 25 grams full cream milk powder
- 5 grams bread improver (optional)
- 7 grams salt
- 100 grams sugar
- 7 grams instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 100 grams additional bread flour to refine the dough
- 1 egg white beaten with 2 tablespoons water if making French Baguette
- ½ cup bread crumbs
For the Sponge:
Stir all ingredients together in medium bowl until combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until sponge has risen and fallen, at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
For the Dough:
Combine flours, sugar, powdered milk, salt, bread improver (if using), and yeast; set aside.
Using stand mixer fitted with dough paddle, place the bowl with the sponge and start mixing.
Pour in the water that is mixed with egg, and melted butter and mix for 2 minutes at lowest speed.
Still on lowest speed, start adding about ½ of the flour mixture in ¼ cups; waiting for the flour to get absorbed before adding the next ¼ cup.
Now change the paddle to the hook and continue to beat at the lowest speed; again adding ¼ cup of the flour mixture at a time.
You have to stop every 5 minutes to scrape down the dough that goes up the hook. This will take about 20 minutes.
Now, at this stage the dough is going to be a bit sticky; you have to carefully add small portions of the extra bread flour ⅛ cups at a time, to make sure that your dough becomes a bit smooth and not so sticky.
Get a bowl, brush with oil, put the dough in and cover with greased plastic wrap.
Set aside in a warm place with no draft and let rise to double it’s original size, from 1 to 1 ½ hours. I like using a large, round, plastic container ( 12-inches diameter by 4-inches tall) to proof my breads. It works faster because it’s air tight.
When the dough has doubled, turn dough out onto lightly floured counter.
Divide dough into 50 grams equal pieces.
Make them into little balls.
Grease large muffin tins.
Roll each dough ball into bread crumbs and place in muffin tin.
Place muffin tins inside proofing cabinet or in a kitchen cabinet, with no air draft, to rise double its’ original size.
Let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Heat oven to 350ºF (176ºC)
Before baking, spray buns with water.
Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
Within the first 5 minutes, spray the buns another 2 times so that they will have a light crust.
When the buns are a light golden tan, remove from the oven and let cool on wire rack.
Weighing ingredients, even liquid ones, ensures better accuracy in baking than using cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons.