Growing up in the Philippines meant eating pan de sal for breakfast and/or merienda. Ask any Filipino outside of the Philippines about pan de sal and they’d speak of it with such longing. Ask Filipinos in the Philippines about it and chances are, they have it in their house or they ate some already. THAT’s how ingrained it is in us. Whether you eat it on its own, with butter, condensed milk or any other spread, pan de sal represents home.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, hot pan de sal was always on our dining table every morning, ready for the eating. When we spent our summers in our vacation home in Baguio City, we used to walk to the store to buy fresh-from-the-oven pan de sal. On our way back home, we’d start munching on the bread and it would be nearly finished by the time we get back home. Of course, we had to go back and get some more. Now we keep frozen pan de sal in our freezer, even though frozen pan de sal will never be the same as freshly-baked ones.
Lately, I’ve been thinking of trying to make pan de sal. A scary thought, really. It has such a sentimental value on me that I don’t want to mess it up. But one’s gotta face one’s fears, right? I Googled the recipe for pan de sal and found so many! I couldn’t even keep up with checking each one.
In the end, I chose this recipe just to get started. In my excitement, I didn’t get to take pictures until the dough was ready to rest for 2 hours.
Instead of a clean kitchen cloth (or hand towel), I covered the bowl with plastic wrap.
I kept watching it, so thrilled to watch the dough rise.
Two hours later, look at how high the dough has risen!
When I punched the dough, I actually heard a whooshing sound, as if air was coming out. How slight a sound? Kinda like a soft fart. Instead of shaping into ovals, I made round balls.
Voilà! Look at the pretty pan de sal!
I’ll try the other recipes for pan de sal next time, but right now, I’m glad this experiment worked out. Now I know how long it takes to make these little delicious soft bread. Kudos to the panaderias in the Philippines for baking endless batches of this soft bread everyday!