You'll find pandesal -- or pan de sal -- on breakfast tables across the Philippines. These slightly sweet and crumbly bread rolls come served with everything from egg and cheese to hot butter and sprinkled sugar. The dough is a lean variety, with yeast, flour, salt and sugar. Because it needs some time to rise, you can prepare pandesal dough a day ahead and leave it overnight.
One of the characteristics of pandesal is the crumbly layer of breadcrumbs on the top of the roll. This gives pandesal a pleasant rough texture, with a light and sweet center. To get the right consistency, pandesal dough needs a long time to rise, ideally around 5 hours. However, if leaving the dough overnight, you may need to leave in the refrigerator to slow the rise.
Making the Dough
Pandesal dough requires much the same ingredients as most yeast bread recipes. For example, to make 24 pandesal rolls, you need a cup of lukewarm water, 1 teaspoon of baker's yeast, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1 1/2 cups of bread flour, 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Add the water and yeast to a large bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Add the oil, sugar and salt, then slowly sprinkle the flour, stirring gently as you go. Eventually, the dough should be rough and tacky, but not soggy.
Kneading and Leaving
Pandesal dough should be soft and smooth. Kneading for at least 5 minutes will create this texture. Add the dough to a bowl with a little vegetable oil. At this point, you can cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator to let it rise overnight. If you leave it out at room temperature overnight, the dough may rise too much and ruin the pandesal texture.
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Divide and Cooker
In the morning, the pandesal dough should have risen, but still have a firm consistency. Roll it out roughly and cut into 4 equal pieces. Divide these into 6 equal pieces again to give you 24 lumps of dough. Shape each with your hands to made them into little balls, roll them in breadcrumbs and place on a greased baking tray. These should expand if left for another hour. If cooked at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, these little balls of pandesal dough will transform into golden, delicious and puffy little rolls.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.