One bread type encapsulates Filipino culture, and no one would dare debate that it’s pandesal. In fact, it’s hard to find a Pinoy who wouldn’t love a warm, oven-fresh piece in the morning or even any time of the day!
Flavoured versions like ube pandesal and ube-cheese pandesal are trendy these days. But it’s always ideal to start with the classic version. Learn the basics first. When you have the foundational skills, the why’s and the how’s, it will be easy to move on to more complex recipes.So, pull up your sleeves and get ready to learn how to make pandesal.
Every Pinoy’s Breakfast Staple
Here’s a familiar scene any Pinoy could relate to. You wake up from sweet slumber, it’s the start of a new day. You hear the background sound of revving tricycles. And your neighbour is sweeping the ground with walis tingting (coconut midribs broom). Still half-asleep, you walk straight to the kitchen. Rubbing your eyes and yawning, you park yourself in the dining table. The strong smell of coffee greets you. And a delicious, unmistakable aroma wafting from a brown paper bag sitting in the middle of the table. You reach in and take a piece of pandesal, the bread crumbs feeling coarse against your fingers. Then, you break a piece, dunk it in a mug of hot Barako (liberica coffee), and put it in your mouth. Like magic, your sleepy senses come alive. The yeasty aroma and slight sweetness of pandesal is a perfect pair to a strong coffee. This breakfast, as humble it may be, powers millions of Filipinos every morning. It gives them the energy needed to pursue their passion and seize the day. Not everyone may be a fan of coffee-soaked pandesal bread. But there are a million other ways of enjoying pandesal. In fact, it will go well with many sweet or savoury numbers you may have in your fridge or pantry, such as:
- Cold cuts (ham, sausages, bacon, etc.)
- Butter or margarine
- Jam or fruit preserves
- Condensed milk
Today’s panaderia classic was introduced by the Spaniards. They sailed to the Philippines in the 16th century with their cross and sword. The conquistadors also brought with them their culinary traditions, including Western-style baking. The term “pan de sal” translates to “bread of salt”. Some historians attribute it to the available flour at the time. We’re not going to delve into the science of bread making to explain it (i.e. protein content, the impact of salt, etc.). Suffice it to say that the current version of pandesal has evolved over time.
The Colorful Versions of Pandesal
Over the decades, the taste profile of the pandesal became sweeter. The original formulation only had 1.75 percent sugar. Whereas today, it has gone up to 18 percent. This versatile Filipino bread also enjoyed many transformations through additions in its formulation. Pandesal now comes in many versions of various colours, textures, and culinary surprises:
- Wholemeal or whole wheat pandesal
- Malunggay pandesal
- Filled pandesal (sardine, tuna, etc.)
- Ube pandesal
- Ube cheese pandesal
- Other experimental flavours (pandan, chocolate, etc.)
The Problem With Traditional Pandesal
The traditional recipe is a “go-to” formulation for many bakers. But expect to encounter a handful of issues with the finished product:
- It’s crucial to note that the traditional version is a pandesal recipe for business. And when we say business, we’re not talking about upscale cafes. These are sold for PHP 1.00 or 2.00 apiece at neighbourhood bakeries. That said, the recipe’s priority is greater yield above all else.
- Making the traditional version is cheap and that’s always good for business. But, don’t expect a culinary masterpiece when you pull the tray out of the oven!
- Neighbourhood bakeries sell out all their stocks of pandesal in the morning. So there’s no need to worry about shelf life. In fact, pandesal from an average panaderia would be hard and stiff (stale) after 24 hours.
If you want luscious pandesal, try our Ludy’s Kitchen pandesal recipe.
The Story Behind Ludy’s Kitchen Pandesal
Our delicious pandesal recipe was developed by our founder, Manolo Fetalvero. He’s an IT manager by profession and a baker by heart. He found himself tackling a big challenge a few decades back – his sons won’t eat anything but noodles and pizza.
Manolo is a big believer in creating family traditions. And it includes food prep and mealtimes. So, he started his baking journey with his wife and kids in tow.
“They would eat anything I bake… Pan de bato, pan de negro!” Manolo jokingly said, referring to hard and burnt buns he made back when he was just a novice baker. “And they like to mess around the kitchen helping me bake them. Those were fun days.”
As he progressed as a baker, Manolo took the artisanal approach. And he championed the natural food movement through his cafe, Pan de Boy’s Lite Bites Cafe.
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Manolo improved his baking through continuous testing and evaluation. He gathered feedback from his customers and incorporated their input into his recipes.
This made Ludy’s Kitchen pandesal one of his best-selling products. The pandesal recipe features a fusion of artisanal baking traditions. And it caters to the local palate. It tastes freshly-baked for three days at room temperature and up to two weeks in the fridge.
Ludy's Kitchen Pandesal Recipe
Prepare Your Poolish - Pre-Ferment
- Mix the bread flour, semolina flour and yeast before adding water.
- Add the water and mix until there are no more big lumps of dry flour.
- Cover and leave on your counter for 1-2 hrs, then, keep in the fridge for at least 12 hrs.
- Before mixing into the Final Mixture, take it out of the fridge, leave it on the counter and let it warm up to room temperature - 2-3 hrs, depending on the weather.
Other Ingredients To Prepare
- Steam the russet potato.Finely mash it and let it cool down completely before mixing it in.
- Cream the softened butter with salt and sugar.
Mixing All Yout Ingredients
- Beat the egg and mix it with the water.Put them in the mixing bowl.
- Mix in the poolish and mashed potato into the egg-water mixture.
- In a separate bowl, mix the bread flour, semolina flour, the milk powder and the yeast.
- Sieve the flour mixture into the mixing bowl.
Using The Mixer
- Set the mixer to low speed and mix for 10 min.At the end of the 10-min mixing, you should have a well mixed dough with no dry lumps.Let it rest for 30 min.
- Mix in the creamed butter into the dough at low speed for another 10 min until the butter mixture is fully incorporated into the dough.At the end of the 10-min mixing, the dough should have absorbed the creamed butter mixture completely.
- Switch the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing for 10 more minutes.At the end of the 10-min mixing, the gluten strands in the dough would be completely developed.
- Gather and tighten the dough by mixing at high speed for 10-30 sec until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
Fermentation / Proofing / Strengthening The Dough
- Turn over your dough onto your work surface. Fold it into a smooth ball. Take note of its volume/size.Let the dough rest for 45 min.
- After resting for 45 min, stretch and fold the dough and form it into a tight ball.Let it rest for another 45 min.At the end of the 2nd resting, the dough would have risen to almost double in volume.
Cutting/Dividing & Shaping
- Fold the dough to prepare it for cutting and shaping.Divide the dough and measure its weight, 50 gm each.Fold and round each piece.
- Dust each piece with bread crumbs.Let it rest in a baking tray until its almost double in volume (90% of the initial volume).
Baking Your Pandesal
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C at least 30 minutes before baking.Bake at 180C for first 7 minutes, then lower the temperature to 150C for the next 8 minutes.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes... enjoy your pandesal!
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