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Every Filipino knows there’s nothing like a piece of warm, fragrant, and delicious pandesal to wake up your senses in the morning. But let’s face it - downing four pieces of white buns in one sitting isn’t the best for the waistline. Especially if you’re trying to watch your carb intake. That said, here’s a healthier alternative that’s just as delicious: whole wheat pandesal.


In this article, we’ll discuss everything there is to know about this fibre-rich Filipino bread.

So, stick until the end. Because we’re throwing in a unique, soft & fluffy whole wheat pandesal recipe that’s tried & tested. Guaranteed mouth-watering results!

The Rustic Roots of Wholemeal Pandesal

whole wheat pandesal ludy's kitchen

Some tend to think that whole wheat pandesal is a new development. Possibly brought by the movement to eat healthier. After all, the past few decades have seen a push towards consuming whole food and organic produce.

But do you know the original pandesal introduced to us by the Spanish colonizers was of the whole wheat variety?

And how do we know this? Well, these tidbits of info will lead us to a simple deduction:

  • The Spaniards brought European-style baking to the Philippines in the 16th century. In fact, the first dictionary of the Tagalog language called Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, already had a term for bread. The words such as “tapay,” and “tinapay” means bread. And this dictionary by Franciscan friar Pedro de Buenaventura was published in 1613.
  • The advanced milling process that we are familiar with wasn't introduced until the late 19th century. This is according to food historian Karen Hess. Before that, the milling process produced flour with the wheat germ included. As a result, the flour was cream in colour and had flecks of bran. Though it was possible to produce fine, white flour at the time, it was labour-intensive and costly. So, white flour was an upper-crust luxury.

So, the next time you think that whole wheat pandesal is a new development brought about by the healthy food revolution, think again. Our ancestors have been enjoying them since the Spanish Era.

What is Whole Wheat Bread?

Before we go any further, it’s crucial to discuss - what is whole wheat bread? Many confuses it with other healthy bread types. Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Whole wheat bread. This uses flour that has all parts of the grain kernel intact. Because the bran, germ, and endosperm are present, it offers more natural nutrients and fibre.
  • Multi-grain bread. As the name suggests, this type of bread contains several grain types. Grains such as wheat, barley, oats, cornmeal, flax, buckwheat, and millet.
  • Whole grain bread. Think of this as a combination of the first two. It contains the entire wheat kernel, along with other grains mentioned above.
  • Graham bread. This uses Graham flour. It takes its name from a 19th-century nutrition reformer, Sylvester Graham. Graham flour is coarsely ground whole wheat. It retains the bran and germ from the kernel and is less processed than regular whole wheat flour.

Healthier Bread Across the Nations

Generally, you can substitute white flour for whole wheat, but not in all recipes.

According to Pastry Chef Steve Song, whole wheat would not be ideal for delicate numbers like sponge or chiffon cakes. But there’s no harm in swapping white flour for whole wheat if you’re baking less fragile goods like bread, muffins, biscuits, and denser cakes.

Here are a few international baked goods that often have whole wheat versions:

  • Pita Bread
  • Croissants
  • Baguette
  • Scones
  • Focaccia
  • Pizza
  • Challah

Ludy's Kitchen Tip:

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using whole wheat flour for baking:

  • The bran in the kernel has a high water absorption property. So, you may need to increase the wet ingredients a bit to achieve the right moisture.
  • Be careful about overmixing. The bran is the fibrous outer shell of the wheat grain. And it is relatively tough. So, the dough tends to overheat during prolonged kneading.

The Health Benefits of Whole Wheat Pandesal

Now, back to whole wheat Filipino bread. If you feel guilty over wolfing down too many batches of ube cheese pandesal, then adding a healthy pandesal recipe to your baking repertoire is an excellent idea.

Whole Wheat Pandesal vs Traditional Pandesal

This is somewhat synonymous with the white bread vs whole wheat bread face-off. And the difference lies in the bran and wheat germ present in whole wheat but not in refined wheat.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the bran and wheat germ contain good amounts of B vitamins, copper, iron, zinc, antioxidants, magnesium, and phytochemicals.

That said, it offers us the following health benefits:

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lowered risk of chronic inflammation
  • Gallstone prevention
  • Bowel regularity and constipation prevention
  • Improved gastrointestinal health
  • Weight control

Whole Wheat Pandesal Calories

Some may be surprised to hear that despite being a healthier option, a piece of whole wheat pandesal has more calories (140) compared to traditional pandesal (130).

However, you must also note that whole wheat contains more dietary fibre (4g compared to 0g), more protein (5g compared to 3g), and fewer carbs (12g compared to 22g). In addition to that, whole wheat makes you feel full for longer. That said, all the health benefits make up for the additional ten calories.

Whole Wheat Pandesal vs. Malunggay (Moringa) Pandesal

When it comes to healthy pandesal options, malunggay or moringa pandesal is another popular option. However, pitting it against wholemeal bread nutrients isn’t easy because it offers a different range of health benefits. But for sure, a whole wheat malunggay pandesal recipe will be healthier compared to one made with white flour.

The Story of Ludy’s Whole Wheat Pandesal Recipe

Many of our customers already know about Ludy’s Kitchen’s pandesal recipe, which is bestselling in our Singapore store. The story behind our wholemeal pandesal is just as interesting; the recipe was borne out of a logistic predicament.

It started back when founder, Manolo Fetalvero, gained traction with his home-baked pandesal delivery business in 2008. You see, in Singapore, industrial ovens aren’t allowed in residential units. So, despite the slew of orders, he had no choice but to make do with a domestic oven that can only bake up to 16 buns per batch.

With more and more people trying to eat healthier, customers requested more wholesome bread to make up for all the pandesal, pan de coco, pan de queso, and ensaymada they’ve been ordering.

One friend suggested baking a "fusion bread" in the form of multi-grain pandesal. It would’ve been an excellent project to try. However, multi-grain bread requires using different types of grain flour. The problem is that grain flours can't be sold at a quantity that a home baking business can afford, all except for one - wholemeal flour. So, Manolo took some home and tested it in the kitchen.

“It was not easy to incorporate wholemeal flour and maintain the same qualities of Ludy's Kitchen Pandesal that our customers loved,” Manolo recalls. “So, I adjusted the formula and tested it many times before I was satisfied. And when we launched it, our customers loved it. It became very popular that it became a bestseller and stayed on top for quite some time.”

With a combo of wholemeal bread nutrition and a delectable palate profile, this bread has become one of Ludy’s Kitchen’s menu staples.

Ludy's Kitchen


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Whole Wheat Pandesal

Ludy’s Kitchen Whole Wheat Pandesal Recipe

If you’ve been searching for the best wholemeal bread, but to no avail, why not make your own? There is a multitude of whole wheat pandesal recipes online. But ours has been perfected over time, so give it a try!
4.67 from 3 votes
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Course: Bread, Bread Rolls, Breakfast, Dinner Rolls, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Filipino Bread
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Fermentation & Proofing Times: 22 hours
Total Time: 1 day 44 minutes
Servings: 24 buns
Calories: 149kcal
Author: Boy & Doods



Final Mix


Prepare Your Pre-Ferment - Poolish

  • Mix the bread flour and yeast before adding water.
  • Add the water and mix until there are no more 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 - 2-4 hrs, depending on the weather.
    At the end of this process, the poolish should be bubbly and almost doubled in volume.

Other Ingredients To Prepare

  • Steam the russet potato.
    Finely mash the potato and let it cool completely before mixing it in.
  • Pre-soak the entire batch of whole wheat flour with hot (autolyse) water.
    Mix it up to ensure the whole batch is wet.
    Let it cool down completely, at least 2 hrs.
  • Cream the softened butter with salt and sugar.

Mixing All Your Ingredients

  • Beat the egg and mix it with the water.
    Put them in the mixing bowl.
  • Mix in the poolish, the pre-soaked whole wheat flour 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 7 more minutes.
    At the end of the 7-min mixing, the gluten strands in the dough would be completely developed.
  • Gather and tighten it 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, 60 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- Finally!

  • 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 7 minutes.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes... enjoy your whole wheat pandesal!


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Serving: 60gm | Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 214mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

Tell us what you think of our recipes. How did it go for you? Do you have any questions?

Let us know, leave us a comment below.

Boy & Doods

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Carla Bauto Deña

Carla is a freelance journalist, content writer, and TV producer. When she's not busy writing and covering stories, she likes traveling and discovering different cultures through food.

  • 4 stars
    I like this recipe although this is complicated, almost bordering as an artisan bread. I’m a pandesal baker of over three years, but I’ve been using a bread maker for kneading and first proof.

    I made this whole wheat bread (without the semolina flour) over eight times, but I only came up once with a product that I like. The buns are soft and fluffy, with buttery taste, and the sweetness from the dark brown sugar (demerara sugar) is really different from using white granulated sugar.

    To avoid hard grits of bran, I separated the bran from the whole wheat flour using a sieve, added 50 grams of boiling water to the bran and let it sit overnight, while the poolish is fermenting.

    Because I live in a temperate country (room temp is 20 to 22 C), I didn’t refrigerate the poolish, but I used very little amount of yeast (about 1/16 teaspoon) for this preferment. The poolish was bubbly and aromatic after 12 to 16 hours.

    I couldn’t get ahold of semolina flour yet, but because I wanted to make healthy bread, I used 3 tablespoons (24 g) or flaxseed meal instead.

    Sometimes, because my of schedule, I did an 8-hour cold proof of the dough at it’s first proving. It’s not advisable because the sweetness from the dark sugar was gone. Also, using a stand mixer is way better for this recipe as it is more efficient in mixing and kneading the ingredients than a bread maker.

    I have friends who prefer healthier breads, hence I hope to nail this recipe soon.

    • Thanks Ray!

      Yes, this recipe has a lot of things going on…

      – the preparation of the poolish and maturing it properly before mixing is very important for the flavour to really shine.

      – the preparation of the wholemeal flour – and this depends on the type of flour available to you. For us here in Singapore, the wholemeal flour that is readily available is the bran and wheat germ that was separated from the endosperm during the milling process. So, to incorporate it back into the mix, I have to test the proportion and prepare it to soften it before mixing.

      – the creaming of the butter, sugar and salt and the timing when to incorporate this into the dough

      – then, there’s the potato and semolina

      But once you’ve got them right, you’ll be amazed at the flavour and texture of this pandesal.

      It is one of our best seller!😉👍

  • 5 stars
    I tried this whole wheat pandesal. I had to adjust the baking time longer because after a total of 14mins, the pandesal still looked not done. I baked the pandesal for about 40mins. Probably because I was baking two baking sheets at the same time, 2 layers inside the oven. Even so, the result was amazing! It’s my first time to bake in a long time, and I’m just a beginner. My family loved the pandesal, thank you so much!

    • Thanks Carmelle! We’re glad your family loved them. 😁

      Yes, the baking time depends on various factors – temperature, the “total mass” of the goodies you’re baking, how well risen the dough is, humidity inside the oven, whether you have a fan-assisted oven, etc.

      Thanks for highlighting that.

      The baking time in the recipe is based on 1 tray with12 buns on it and I’ve enabled the fan-assist with both bottom & top heating elements.

      For the size of the buns, @50-60 gm each, I try to bake them as fast as I can to prevent them from “drying” completely. This way, the baked pandesal stays “fresh” longer. 👍

      • I found that baking without the fan-assist helps keep the bread stay moist and fluffy for days. I just rotate and exchange location of the two trays midway through baking.

        For even browning of the buns, I did turn on the the fan at the last 5 mins of baking.

        Also, I used steam at the first half of the baking, with the aid of a pre-heated metal tray on which I poured a cup of boiling water. I then removed the steam halfway through the baking when I rotated the tray.

        Yes, I fussed around a lot because this recipe is like that of an artisan bread, so I figured I might as well go through the whole nine yards. It makes munching on the perfect savoury, sweet and buttery brown buns feel like victory whenever I get the bread done right.

        • Thanks for the tip Ray 👍

          Yes, I agree… setting the oven environment for perfect results needs a lot of testing. There are a lot of variables to consider.

          I have changed ovens several times since I started baking and every time I have to test and adjust the oven settings to find the perfect environment for baking bread.

          But the rewards are great once you’ve mastered it. 😉

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