The day after we arrived at the beach, I got up at around 5 a.m., and with the rest of the household still fast asleep, decided to make a starter and dough for some Pan de Sal. I used the recipe which originally came from the Aboitiz Family Cookbook, which I posted earlier, here. It is a simple recipe, with a couple of odd “shortcuts” or ingredients like eggs and boiling water. I only had really nice organic eggs with incredibly orange yolks so the addition of 2 eggs made this version a little more yellow or “buttery-looking” than usual.
After making the dough and putting it in a bowl to double (rising for nearly 2 hours), I slipped out to the Nasugbu market to pick up crabs and other seafood for the rest of the stay at the beach. Upon my return home, I cut up the dough after forming long “logs” and let these rise a second time to again increase in size, before sticking them in a hot 400-420 F degree oven. I tried to use the convection feature (a fan that moves the heat around) on one batch and it resulted in a darker crisper skin for those who like that… Other batches were lighter colored.
Overall I felt the results were very good for the minimal effort expended. The bread had a nice crisp outer skin, dusted with breadcrumbs and cornmeal, while the inside was a little more dense than commercial pan de sals, and chewy and light, but not airy at all… Also, this bread was notable for its absence of sweetness and if you use the maximum amount of salt (not IODIZED table salt, please!) suggested, it is in fact rather salty. Several of the crew felt it was “matabang,” or more precisely, lacking the sweetness of say a Pan de Manila. But 48 pieces that started to come out of the oven at about 9a.m., were wiped out in less than 15 minutes…. Some reminders for a successful batch – use yeast that is alive, not dying or dead. Use water that is 100-110F for the initial yeast sugar mix. Use kosher or natural salt with no iodine. Make your dough rise undisturbed in a warm but not HOT part of the kitchen, covered with a damp towel. Breezes and draughts affect the dough. Pre-heat your oven to a hot 400-420F.
My favorite palaman for a fresh out of the oven pan de sal? Good sweet butter. Then we opened up jars of homemade mangosteen jam, kalamansi marmalade, mango preserves, my sister’s damson plum and those were delicious with the freshly baked bread as well. Finally, we started to make longanissang hubad sandwiches with the freshly fried longganisa patties and the fresh bread…ahhh, heaven at the beach!