Enjoy these slightly sweet, soft and fluffy pandesal. You will fall in love with this Filipino version of dinner rolls that are lightly dusted with bread crumbs, and is perfect for any spread or just on their own with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee.
Just a week before I made these pandesal, my nanay made her own version of these Filipino dinner rolls. She yielded amazing results. Amazing. And I was amazed not only because the pandesal were so good, but because my nanay is more of a cook than a baker, and she eye-balled the recipe. Eye-balled.
It still amazes me to this day. I remembered seeing her gather and incorporate those ingredients like she had no clue what she was doing. She was asking me the whole time, Do you think it has risen enough? Do you think that is still sticky? and I’d be honest, I did not think that the pandesal will turn out okay, as she was adding flour here and there, cutting on the sugar, adding oil, tweaking her friend’s recipe. But man, they were so good and beyond better than what I expected.
And it so funny to me, because here I am, establishing myself as a bake blogger, yet to this day, I have not dared to make bread from nothing but my own knowledge. I always rely on recipes when making bread. But here is what I learned: when a baker tries to develop a bread recipe, she will fail. Not once, but twice.
So while I was walking down the sunny, but cold streets to pick up my daughter from school, I was wallowing myself in pity. I just failed to make pandesal twice, trying to re-create a recipe that my nanay nailed the first time. If only, if only she had written that recipe then I would not have been going blindly trying to make those pandesal. Not urging her to write the tweaks was my biggest regret. What I only have is the base recipe prior to tweaking. So I held that piece of my paper so close to me like it was gold. I need to re-create those delicious, dreamy bread.
Now this story does not end in an epic way with me being victorious and coming up with a recipe all from scratch. No. I am not about to toll away in the basement and try to develop a recipe for days. Not yet, at least. There are kids to feed, you know.
The key to success is to never give up, they say. And I didn’t. Instead, I went on to continue this bread making story by swallowing my little pride and turning to two of my favorite Filipino bloggers from Kawaling Pinoy and The Little Epicurean to compare the recipe I have on hand.
So with careful tweaking, comparing and substituting, I have finally seen the light of day. Before me were these soft, fluffy and lightly golden pandesal. One bite and I remembered just how good my nanay’s pandesal were. Breadcrumbs lingering on my lips as I bite, and the appropriate sweetness and softness of the bread definitely spell success.
So definitely, I realized that my self-pity drama was pointless. There is no perfect score for not failing, or for developing a recipe all by myself. All that matters, in the end, is that I learned something and there are fresh, warm bread out of the oven.
More Filipino baked goodies:
Pandesal is a Filipino version of dinner rolls that are enjoyed any time of day. It is soft, slightly sweet and perfect for pairing with hot chocolate or coffee.
- 1 packet active dry yeast 2 and 1/4 teaspoons
- 1 and 1/4 cup milk heated to 110 F
- 4 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- bread crumbs for dusting the pandesal dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk, yeast and about a tablespoon of the sugar. Let this mixture stand until it is foamy. In another bowl, combine 4 cups of flour and salt.
Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add in the eggs, sugar and oil to the bowl of stand mixer. Gradually add the flour mixture, about a cup at a time while stirring with a wooden spatula or spoon. Briefly mix everything together until a shaggy dough forms.
Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and run the mixer on medium speed to start kneading the dough. After ten minutes of mixing, gradually sprinkle little amounts of flour to the dough ( about a tablespoon at a time) to help in the kneading process. Continue to knead until the dough gathers in the center and is cleaning the sides and bottom of the bowl. This should take about 20 minutes or so and you should only have used up to 1/2 cup of flour. Gather the dough into a ball. Place it inside a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let stand in room temperature to rise for an hour, or until size is doubled. Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into 30 equal sized portions. Smooth and shape each portion into an imperfect ball, about 2 and 1/2 to 3 inches in size. Roll each portion of dough in the bread crumbs and place in the baking sheet. Allow little spaces in between portions. Cover the rolls with kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the pandesal for 20-25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Serve warm. Store leftovers in a tightly closed container at room temperature.