Growing up in the Philippines, I would always wake up to a familiar sound outside my window. It would start out as a faint echo from a distance and as it came closer, it would become this big, bellowing voice that called out,"Teeee....naaaaaaaaaah....paaaaay!" It was Mang Tinapay! That was what we called the man who sold fresh bread rolls every morning. Before the crack of dawn, he would fill the back of his bicycle with a basket full of tinapay. Then he'd head out to our neighborhood, just when everyone was waking up. Sometimes I'd wait outside with my Lola, clutching my money in my hand, ready to buy a bag from him. When he'd reach the front of our house, he'd stop his bike and I'd politely ask him,"Isang supot po." He'd open the lid, pluck each tinapay out of his basket and drop them in a bag. He had this cool way of closing the bag: he'd take each end and spin it around a couple times. That was always fun to watch.
The tinapay I loved so much as a child is more commonly known as pandesal, which is kind of a misnomer (translation is "salted bread') because it's actually a sweet bread roll. Everyone has their own special way of enjoying it. Most like eating them plain straight out of the bag. My Lola loves dunking it in her coffee. My friends like to eat it with corned beef or Spam (Filipinos love their canned meats). Of course my favorite palaman (which means "filling" in the Tagalog) is sweet coco jam made of coconut milk and sugar. It's ridiculously good!
There's really nothing better than hot pandesal. You'll hear Filipinos from all over say this, because when you bite into a fresh pandesal while it's still soft and warm...it's just heavenly. I feel lucky that there's a wonderful bakery here in San Diego called Valerios that bakes them daily. You walk into their shop and the mouthwatering aroma of pandesal baking in the oven just fills the air. They also sell day-old pandesal by the bag (most Filipino stores and Asian supermarkets sell them too), but they're not as drool-inducing as the hot and fresh ones straight out of the oven.
Even though I'm just minutes away from Valerios and I can pick up a bag of hot pandesal whenever I want, I thought it can't hurt to learn how to make them at home. I know that sounds daunting and believe me, as much as I love to bake, I never quite embraced the process of bread-making. All the kneading and waiting for the dough to rise (twice!), I'm just too impatient for it. BUT after watching a tutorial on how to make pandesal, I just had to try it! The first time I made them (see photo above), my impatience got the best of me and they didn't come out quite right. They tasted like pandesal but they were a little dense. The second time I made them (see photo below), I waited longer for the dough to rise and they turned out a lot better. By the third time I made them, They were soft, fluffy and delicious! So the take-home lesson here kids: practice, practice, practice...and be patient! Trust me. It's worth all the waiting. Just do some yoga or something while the dough is rising.
A special thanks to Malou from Skip to Malou for sharing your how-to video. I can now have my pandesal moment at home whenever I want :-) XOXO
Pandesal (Filipino Bread Rolls)
Adapted from Skip to Malou
Makes 16 rolls
Allergy Note: contains wheat ingredients
4 cups bread flour
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp. (1 envelope) dry yeast (I use "Rapid Rise")
2 tsp. honey or sugar
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in warm water. Wait about 10 minutes for the yeast to activate (you'll see the liquid become frothy). Add oil into the yeast mixture. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together bread flour, sugar and salt.
Pour in a cup of the flour mixture into the yeast/water. Add the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead for about 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. You can do this by hand onto a lightly floured surface but I prefer using the dough hook attachment in my hand mixer or stand mixer.
Lightly coat a bowl with oil then place the dough inside; cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size, about 1 hour.
Place breadcrumbs in a bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape into approximately a 8x10 rectangle.
Cut the dough into 4 strips.
Cut each strip into 4 pieces. Turn each piece over with the cut side facing up.
Gently press the top of each pandesal with breadcrumbs. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
Cover the baking sheet with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise a second time, for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.