Pan de Sal with a pan-fried quail egg
The local bakery was a two mile bike ride from my house in the Philippines. Shortly after the first mile, the humid weather thickens the aroma of freshly baked pan de sal that even on an empty stomach, I am able to sprint quickly up the hill where the panaderia is perched. Getting a brown paper bag full of hot bread rolls straight from the charred wooden peel defined my childhood’s Saturday mornings. The rest of the family would wait eagerly for my return with either a cup of steaming coffee or raw carabao milk in hand.
Despite the name, pan de sal is slightly sweet instead of salty. It also has a distinctive coating of bread crumbs and a shallow ridge on top formed by cutting the rolls from a long rope of dough. I originally thought that the rolls were shaped individually and then scored to get the ridge until I came across the proper shaping method in this post from Market Manila.
I tried many different recipes and methods before settling on a final formula I can call my own. For the ingredients, I tweaked the recipe used by the Philippine team in the 2003-2004 Louis Lesaffre bread baking competition. I also used the delayed fermentation method from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice where the shaped dough is allowed to slowly ferment in the refrigerator overnight. This method not only enhances the flavor of the final product, but also allows most of the work to be done in advance, making it feasible to have freshly baked pan de sal early in the morning.
This is my first entry for Bread Baking Day, currently on its tenth iteration and hosted by Melissa of Baking a Sweet Life. The theme for this month is breakfast breads so as soon as it was announced, the first thing that came to mind was pan de sal.
makes 24 rolls
Pan de Sal – Filipino Salted Bread Rolls
4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, at room temperature
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- The bread crumbs can be considered optional but is necessary to recreate the feel of authentic pan de sal.
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until the dough comes together and knead until it becomes a smooth ball. Let rise in a sealed container for about two hours at room temperature or until it doubles in size. Shape the dough into a rope about two inches wide. Let the dough rest for a few minutes to relax the gluten if necessary. Roll the entire length of the dough in bread crumbs.
Using a bench scraper or the blunt edge of a knife, cut the dough into 24 pieces. Arrange the dough pieces cut side up in a sealable container lightly sprinkled with either flour or bread crumbs. The rolls will be ready to bake after a 1 1/2 hour final proof at room temperature. At this point, I strongly recommend retarding the fermentation by keeping the rolls in the refrigerator overnight to further develop flavor. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Transfer the pieces of dough to a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees, then bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust turns golden brown.
- A quail egg will fit nicely in a split roll of pan de sal
- Make mini sandwiches with crispy pan-fried Spam
- Spread with butter, Reno liver spread, or Cheez Whiz
- Day-old rolls are best dipped in a cup of hot chocolate or coffee
Using the cold retardation method will trap gasses just under the surface of the dough, forming blisters or bird’s eyes on the crust after baking. The pan de sal I remember do not have such blisters, but I really like the resulting look and taste from using this technique.