The pan de sal is ubiquitous (HUGE word alert!) in the Philippines. It is sold in every corner bakery, in every panaderia, in various shapes and sizes. It is bread that has been enjoyed in the Philippines for centuries, as apparently, it was introduced by the Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century.
Since moving to the UK, I have been looking for a British equivalent and there have been near misses, but not quite like the real thing. Pan de sal, when translated from Spanish, means salt bread. Funnily, it is more sweet than savoury. I wrote about baking pan de sal last year and since then I’ve been trying out various recipes from online sources. Now, though, I can finally say that I’ve perfected my version of the Philippine bread staple. I’ve tried several recipes and have now found that putting the recipes together in a system that works for me does really work. Here’s my take on the pan de sal:
- 500g strong bread flour (can also be substituted with whole wheat or gluten-free flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 75g butter
- 150ml milk (full fat, semi-skimmed or skim milk)
- 70g sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast (or 7g)
- 1 egg
- 15ml vegetable oil
- 1 cup bread crumbs (or dry polenta/corn meal)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined (I use a balloon whisk to do this because I find that this mixes the ingredients quickly) and set aside.
- In a sauce pan, heat the milk over low heat. Add the butter and sugar and mix until the butter and sugar are melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until lukewarm in temperature. Once lukewarm, add the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved into the milk mixture.
- Add the egg and oil to the flour mixture and mix well. Mix the milk and butter mixture with the flour until a wet dough forms.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you’re kneading by hand, this should take about 8-10 minutes. Steps 3 and 4 can be done in a free-standing mixer with a dough hook attachment with step 3 in the lowest speed setting and turning up the mixer to the next speed to add the butter and milk mixture and knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to proof for an hour or until the dough has risen to double its size.
- After proofing, punch the dough to deflate it and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes then form it into a ball. Cut the dough in half using a pastry cutter or a knife. Form the dough pieces into a ball and repeat until you have 8 dough balls. Once you have 8 dough balls, cut each in half and roll in bread crumbs. This makes 16 large rolls but the recipe can make up to 20 rolls.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper and place the dough pieces cut side up on the pan. Allow for enough space for the dough ball halves to expand. Allow to proof for another hour or until it doubles in size.
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF). If using a fan oven preheat to about 160ºC (320ºF). Place the baking pan in the oven and bake the dough for 15 minutes.