If there is one smell that most strongly evokes memories of the Phillipines for me, it is that of freshly baked 'pandesal'; small, sweet, scrumptious bread rolls. Even though we moved to the UK when I was six years old, certain tastes and smells can still awaken real nostalgia and familiarity of my time in Hong Kong and the Philippines. It’s something I think about a lot in relation to the bambinos; what experiences from today will they carry with them forever as treasured memories of their childhood? Hopefully they won’t recollect me yelling ’THANKS NOBFACE’ at the driver who sprayed us in dirty puddle water today on a rainy, late school run.
You find pandesal everywhere in the Philippines; in bakeries, corner shops, or in ‘rolling stores’ which are mobile vendors pulling trailers full of goodies on their bikes...
Pandesal translates in Spanish as ‘salt bread’ but they are in fact sweet - don't question Filipino logic, there are no answers. They are like a cross between a bread roll and a sweet pastry, and are best eaten straight from the oven, with butter and jam, or just as they are with a coffee, or as a morning or afternoon 'merienda' (snack). I remember eating them at the kitchen table in our house set in the tropical hills of Bagiou, with a cup of MILO hot chocolate to dunk them in - such a comforting treat. I don’t recall my mum ever making these herself, probably because they were cheap and easily available, however I promise you that these are worth the effort and, as bread-making goes, they really aren’t tricky, you just need to be patient with the rising times. Their sweetness gives them an amazing aroma as they bake, and they freeze well too, in case you have any left over (whatevs).
Makes about 20
240ml warm milk
60ml warm water
55g butter room temp
2 eggs beaten
100g caster sugar
1teaspoon fine salt
550g plain flour
1 sachet fast action yeast (7g)
100g fine breadcrumbs
*Some recipes substitute some of the milk for evaporated milk, which I haven’t tried yet but reckon would be LUSH - though perhaps see how you go with the sweetness of these first?
- Add the yeast to the water, stir and leave for 10 mins until it goes bubbly. Stir again.
- Combine the milk, butter, eggs, sugar and salt and give a good stir.
- Add this liquid mix plus half to the flour to the yeast mix. Use an electric mixer beat to combine and gradually add the remaining flour a little at a time.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface knead for about 10 mins until it's smooth and elastic.
- Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour to an hour and a half, until it has doubled in size.
- Give the dough a quick knead to knock out the air, then divide into four evenly sized portions and roll each into a 20cm log - roll each log in the breadcrumbs. Then cut into 4cm pieces on a slight diagonal (to give them their distinctive oval shape).
- Place the rolls cut side down on the baking trays, cover with a cloth and allow to rise again until double in size (should take an hour to an hour and a half).
- Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 mins or until golden brown.
- EAT THEM ALL.