Pan de Leche – Filipino Sweet Bread Rolls

Filipino Pan de Leche Sweet Bread Rolls

Pan de leche is a Filipino sweet bread that has many regional variations. As far as I know, any yeasted bread baked with milk and sugar can be labeled pan de leche, but I have a very specific idea of what it is supposed to be like. It will be dense and feel heavy for its size. The crumb will be dry but fluffy. The glazed soft crust will have the slightest hint of chewiness. Throwing it against a wall or forehead will cause a resounding thump.

With those attributes in mind, I tried several divergent recipes before coming up with my own. I found that making pan de leche requires the most basic bread baking techniques — pre-ferments, wild yeast starters, and soakers are unnecessary and the dough should be firm and easy to handle. It should take only a few hours of fermentation, some pantry staples, a sheet pan, and a hot oven.

The simplicity of my pan de leche recipe means that it is average bread at best. To put it bluntly, most of the other breads I’ve baked, where slow fermentation spread over a few days fully develops the flavor of the resulting loaf, will taste better.

But this is exactly how I remember it, a close approximation of a childhood favorite. After several attempts, I think I finally nailed it.

World Bread Day Filipino Pan de Leche
World Bread Day hosted by Zorra of 1x Umruhren Bite

Pan de Leche
Filipino Sweet Milk Bread Rolls

makes 9 pan de leche rolls

Final Dough Formula:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
all-purpose flour                 3 cups         13.5          383
whole milk                      1/2 cup           4            113
butter, melted                  1/2 cup           4            113
granulated sugar                1/4 cup           1.75          50
kosher salt                       2 tsp
instant yeast                     1 tbsp
large eggs                        2

For the Egg Wash:

1 egg
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar


1 half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper

Final Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated.

Knead           10 to 12 minutes

Bulk Ferment    2 hours at room temperature in a lightly oiled bowl

Divide          9 pieces, about 85 grams / 3 ounces each

Rest            15 minutes

Shape           oval dinner rolls

Final Proof     60 to 90 minutes at room temperature while uncovered,
                until almost doubled in size. Let a skin form on the

Filipino Pan de Leche - Proofed
Proofed Filipino pan de leche rolls.

Preheat Oven    375ºF/190ºC

Glaze           glaze with the egg wash

Score           2 slashes (optional) 

Filipino Pan de Leche Glazed and Scored
Glazed and scored Filipino pan de leche rolls.

Bake            Bake at 375ºF/190ºC for about 18 to 22 minutes, rotating
                the pan halfway through baking if necessary

Cool            At least 15 minutes

Filipino Pan de Leche Baked
Say cheese.

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40 Responses to “Pan de Leche – Filipino Sweet Bread Rolls”

  1. Caroline says:

    Thanks for this recipe! My husband, the bread-baker will have something new to bake this week (already put another shortcut on his desktop) since he’s already perfected pandesal. Can’t wait to taste them.

  2. Caitlin says:

    Simple and full of memories is sometimes best. I love how shiny brown those crusts are.

  3. Rosa says:

    They look so pretty with their beautiful shape and wonderful color! Great!

    Cheers and happy WBD,


  4. snookydoodle says:

    yummy these look gorgeous. I have a bread phobia. No matter how hard I try I always end up with ahrd rock bread.Your instructions maybe helpful though. Maybe I ll try these. :-)

  5. Arundathi says:

    that looks lovely, Jude. hee hee – “throwing it on a wall or against your forehead” ? – couldn’t possibly do that to these beauties!

  6. Ning says:

    Hmmm… haven’t had these for a long time…

  7. kat says:

    I want to know how you know about the sound it makes when it hits someone’s forehead?

  8. Ulrike says:

    The rolls look so appetizing and beautiful!
    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  9. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Did you have pan de leche fights as a child, is that how you know what they sound like when thrown? The grinning rolls look very inviting.

  10. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Say: Filipino pan de leche rolls Please! Yes. These are beautiful to look at. And there is nothing wrong with simple, variety is wonderful!

  11. Madam Chow says:

    Lovely breads – I haven’t had these in years, so it’s great to see your recipe.

  12. paoix says:

    oooo this bread brings childhood memories. the bakery down the street would have these in the afternoon. they would sprinkle sugar on top of the bread. it was great!! though not complex, these simple pleasures of our childhood often make more lasting impressions :)

  13. van says:

    So~~~~lovely and yummy rolls! Love them at first sight!

  14. King Richards says:

    I’m putting together my own site rating of good blogs like yours would you allow me to add yours? Thanks.

  15. Natashya says:

    They are the cutest little buns! I love the colour on them too. Happy World Bread Day!

  16. noble pig says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. Wow, I am so impressed with your bread baking skills.

  17. Baking Soda says:

    My mom always taught me never to play with food… these are tempting me to try the sounds they make! Happy happy breads, love the gloss!

  18. Lori says:

    These I think are the poster child for World Bread Day. They are just begging to be made by me. My husbands friend lived int he Phillipines. I think I need to make them for him and his family. GREAT looking bread!

  19. Sweatha says:

    Looks delicious.You have given a wonderful description about the bread.But I do not think it should be thrown against a wall :D .On a serious note bookmarked.It is a comfort food

  20. grace says:

    if there’s anything better than regular ol’ bread, it’s sweet bread. not sweetbreads, mind you, but sweet bread. :)

  21. Astrid says:

    I have trouble believing these taste anything less than fabulous! I could bite into my computer screen…

  22. ces says:

    i will have to show ‘dad’ this recipe, he might be interested!:) kindly refresh my memory, with half a cup sugar and ‘de leche’…is this supposed to be sweeter than the pan de sal? i have completely forgotten how it tastes like!:(

  23. Hannah says:

    Such beautiful rolls! You inspire me to move beyond the loaf pan, which I seem to use as a crutch for lack of shaping skills…

  24. lavaterra says:

    Wow! The rolls looks very delicious and your photos are so great.

  25. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    Must be gratifying to recreate a childhood favorite. They look stunning. (BTW, the guy with the buggle is using it to sell his wares as they are freshly baked.)

  26. zorra says:

    I need to make these soon! Thanks for your participation in WBD’08.

  27. Aparna says:

    Love the caption on the last picture. :)
    I think simple breads are also beutiful. I’m definitely going to make these.
    Btw, is it the eggs that give the dough a yellow tinge?

  28. Caroline – I want your pan de sal recipe :)

    Snooky – These rolls are supposed to be dense so it should be worth a try.

    Kat – Just aim and put a bit of backspin on it.

    Susan – Being the youngest, I was usually on the receiving end.

    Paoix – Some extra on top sugar would be nice.

    Ces – Pan de leche is a bit sweeter and richer than pan de sal. It varies, but the pan de leche I remember is a lot more dense than pan de sal.

    Aparna – It’s probably the eggs and butter that give it a yellow tinge.

    Thanks everyone!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Even though, like you, I prefer whole grain breads, there is something really wonderful about this kind of soft roll. (I’ve found that adding the leftovers from feeding wild yeast can improve the overall flavour for people like us, without taking away from it at all for people who love simple plain sweet bread.)


  30. bakinghistory says:

    These look awesome. Thanks for the recipe, this is a bread I have not tried yet.

  31. javapot says:

    My family loved them, tks for sharing a great recipe.

  32. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    They look so cute! Hee.

  33. princess says:

    do you have other recipes a bread with seasoning?!…

  34. Alin says:

    Hi Jude,

    I, too, like to bake. In my search for a particular pandesal recipe, i stumbled upon your website. I think your pan de leche recipe is good, you instructions are very clear. Can’t wait to try it. Is this also called “Putok” in some areas in the Phils. like Nueva Ecija? Also, do you have a recipe for the type of pandesal that is more yellowish in color, softer, and covered with powdery cheese instead of bread crumbs? I don’t know what they call it back in the PI. If you do please, please can you also publish it here. I missed it so much and can’t find it anywhere here in HI. Thank you!!!

  35. josephs ana maria says:

    Whether is an indian or italian wedding, we always pay attention to the smallest detail

  36. Martha says:

    I wanted this recipe for a bread I’m trying to duplicate. A bakery nearby makes a bread similar to this with sweet cream cheese filling abaked into it, and a nice golden egg wash finish. I’m making it. Wish me luck. Thank you for your recipe.

  37. Failblog « Piece of the Peace Corps says:

    [...] biggest failblog in the kitchen that I’ve had in a long time. I was attempting to make this Filipino Pan de Leche bread. I always lay all my ingredients out before cooking and put them away after I’ve used [...]

  38. Pan de Leche « Piece of the Peace Corps says:

    [...] puns aren’t necessary, haha.) Anyway, despite the pun, I’m happy to say that today my Filipino pan de leche bread attempt #2 went a lot better than [...]

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