Us Filipinos love breakfast. And like many Asian countries, we like it heavy. We will have egg noodles, rice porridge with meat, or even our favorite combo of a meat/fish dish, a fried egg and fried rice (which we endearingly call a “silog”). But when we’re in the mood for something light and laid back, nothing beats the combination of a cup of coffee, or hot cocoa, and a pile of hot, freshly baked pan de sal.
Pan de Sal, which literally means “salt bread”, is the quintessential Filipino bread. (Technically, it’s from the Spanish, but we don’t need to go into that.) We will willingly consume these little rolls for breakfast, mid-morning and afternoon snack, some even for dinner. And any self-respecting friendly neighborhood baker carries it. One can have it “maputi” (literally “pale/light”, for lightly browned ones) or “tustado” (literally “toasted”, for well-browned ones). Some stuff it with corned beef, or chicken, or even pork adobo. Whatever the variation, this bread roll doesn’t go out of fashion,
- 1 batch of Lean Bread Dough (done with the First Rise)
- 2 cups of bread crumbs (dry crumb)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
After punching down the dough, divide it into two. Make a 3-inch wide log with each portion of dough. Cut the resulting logs using a bench scraper or sharp knife (non-serrated) to two-fingers wide sections (use the index and middle fingers of one hand). You should end up with about 30 rolls.
Roll each piece in bread crumbs, covering them completely. Place the rolls on an ungreased cookie sheet with a 1-inch wide gap between each roll. The bread crumbs will prevent the bread from sticking.
Let the rolls rest in a warm, draft-free area for at least 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Bake the rolls for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve directly from the oven.
Did I forget to mention that these are incredibly easy to make?
Given that the pan de sal is a breakfast staple, it’s a good idea to bake them fresh in the morning. Obviously hardly anyone has time to make the dough in the wee hours of the morning. A good solution is to make the dough the night before, shape the rolls and let rise for 20 minutes. Place the loaves (on its tray) in the fridge overnight. They will still rise a bit more in the fridge, but really slowly. Take them out of the fridge for 20 minutes before baking. And voila, fresh pan de sal. Enjoy!