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recipe: pan de sal

July 17, 2011

There are certain memories from my childhood that are just so vivid. Like, playing outside in the street with my cousins, even when it was pouring down rain. Or my dad teaching me how to swim in the ocean during summer vacation. And eating my mom’s fried chicken, crispy and piping hot.

Another memory, particularly from my short stay in the Philippines (I was born there and lived in Manila until I was about 8 years old, when we moved to America), is eating pan de sal. Surprise there, huh? A memory about food 🙂

For those of you not familiar with pan de sal (Spanish: salt bread), it is a light yeast roll. According to the ever trusty Wikipedia, pan de sal “is the most popular yeast-raised bread in the Philippines. Individual loaves are shaped like garrison caps due to its unique method of forming. The dough is rolled into long logs (baston) that are rolled in fine bread crumbs before being cut into individual portions with a dull dough cutter and then allowed to rise and baked on sheet pans. Its taste and texture closely resemble those of the very popular rolls of Puerto Rico called Pan de Agua and Mexico’s most popular type of bread Bolillos. These breads all use a lean type of dough and follow similar techniques that were learned from Spanish or Spanish-trained bakers early in their history. As in most commercially produced food items, they vary in quality to meet taste requirements and economic standards of various communities.

Now, I don’t know about super special Spanish techniques – I just searched on the internet for a recipe and found one to try. I’m a self-proclaimed non-baker so I don’t expect that things I bake will taste fantastic – call me a pessimist, call me lazy but I’m a realist. I wasn’t expecting amazing results when I started making this batch of pan de sal. Suffice to say my expectations have been met! They’re not as pretty (nor as good – I.e. sweet) as other pan de sal that I’ve eaten (like my aunt Jane’s bread) or the stuff we used to buy at the bakery in our Manila neighborhood but they are great in my book. And thanks to my mom’s garage sale purchase of an old bread machine, I no longer have to desire a kitchen aid mixer. The bread machine does all the work of mixing and kneading the dough, and even rising it. That’s simple enough for me!

Mmmmm. Bread. So good. And no – I will never be able to do a no-carb diet. No, thank you!

Bread Machine Pan de sal (from
makes approx. 20 rolls


  • 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 ¼ cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 cups canned fat-free evaporated milk, divided
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

1. Using a standard bread machine, put the first 6 ingredients into the bread machine, plus 1 cup of evaporated milk. Select the dough cycle and press start. (My bread machine kneaded the dough for about 23 minutes and the dough rose in there for 60 minutes.)
2. When the cycle is done, remove the dough and place on a clean, flat surface. Tear pieces of the dough and roughly roll into 2-inch balls.
3. Lightly dip the top of each dough ball into the remaining evaporated milk, then dip the top of the same ball into the bread crumbs. Place the dough crumb-side up on a baking sheet (coated with cooking spray). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap.
4. Turning on your oven to the lowest (warm) setting, place the baking sheet in the oven and let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until each dough ball has doubled in size.
5. Remove the cloth or plastic wrap cover from the baking sheet and turn up the oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 8 minutes (or until golden brown).
6. Serve by itself, or with coffee, or even with slices of cheddar cheese (Filipino style).




























The original recipe said to dip each ball into the evaporated milk – I just dipped the tops. Maybe if I dipped the entire dough ball into the milk, the bread would have been sweet. Well, there’s room for improvement! Plus, I called my parents to tell them I made this bread and my mom said I’ll perfect it eventually 🙂

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