15 Jan2013


Over the last decade, my attempts to come up with a decent pan de sal for the home cook have failed. I am beginning to think I am trying to re-create something that just isn’t possible, but I haven’t given up, trying perhaps 15 recipes at least. The last time I tried a published recipe, in a cookbook touted to be the “bible” of pinoy cooking, they came out as hard as hockey pucks, and the recipe was definitely NOT tested. It was a total waste of flour. I hoped they fixed the recipe in later editions, but how horrible to have people waste ingredients if they purchased the first or second edition. At any rate, I had ordered the book “The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking” last year for the sole reason that they were supposed to have THE pan de sal recipe of the Jesuits at the Ateneo, and the author claims the recipe is 150 years old… and the first time I tried the recipe, it too led to disappointing results. But then I started to think about ways to improve it and of course the brain wandered to lard…


The Jesuit recipe used vegetable shortening, which was only invented 100 years ago, so either a Jesuit is fibbing, or the recipe has undergone changes or ingredient substitutions over the years. My best guess is that 150 years ago, they must have used lard. Without googling anything, I decided to try and make a “Pan de Lard”… I kid you not. And it turned out pretty good, say a 7 or 7.5 out of 10 or so. After starting the yeast and flour mixture, I did google “pan de lard”, and duh, of course this wasn’t an original idea. Actually, pan de manteca or bread with lard is popular all over Central and South America. The lard helps to keep the bread soft, and adds flavor. So I wasn’t off my rocker. I wanted a more substantial pan de sal with a touch of savory flavor and definitely on the saltier rather than sweet side. Here is how I made it.


Into the mixing bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer I added 2 cups of very warm water, 3 tablespoons of finest quality leaf lard (not vegetable shortening!), 2 tablespoons sugar and let this dissolve and melt. After the water cooled a bit, I added two tablespoons (one of them heaping, so a bit more than 2) of dry yeast to the water and let than grow or gurgle for about 10 minutes. The warm water was both to encourage the yeast to blossom, as well as to melt the lard. I added two tablespoons of kosher salt (I was worried about this move, as salt tends to kill or slow yeast growth) then slowly mixed in 7 cups of all purpose flour or bread flour on low speed with a dough hook…


Knead for several minutes, put in onto a floured counter to continue kneading if necessary. Form into two smooth balls and place in two separate oiled bowls and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for 1-2 hours, until double or more in volume. I made this on a rainy humid day, so it took longer than usual, I think I waited close to 2 hours. Form each piece of dough into a long log, say 18-24 inches in length, on a well floured surface. Let it rest for a few minutes, then cut it into 12-16 pieces, roll the pieces in breadcrumbs and place them on a backing sheet, a cut side facing up, the other cut side against the pan. Let this rise for another 30-45 minutes then place it in a 450F oven for say 13-15 minutes.


I have been reading up on home baking, and here’s a trick I used. Place a large cast iron pan on the bottom of your oven before you turn the oven on. Let the pan get nice and hot. Just before you place the dough into the oven to bake, add 8-10 ice cubes to the cast iron pan so that it “steams” the oven, allowing the dough to rise a little further and giving it a nicer skin or crust. I think this trick is really useful. The results? Pretty darned good. They looked good (if a bit denser than I had hoped for), they tasted great (not like the airy sweet pan de sals that you can flatten with the palm of your had to literally a 3mm disk of crust on a table) and they paired brilliantly with some good butter and jam. Better yet, we happened to be experimenting with kikiam or quekiam at the same time and I sliced up some of that and used it as a sandwich filling… DEFINITELY TWO THUMBS UP! This recipe still needs tweaking. I want to get the bread a little lighter on the inside and let it grow a bit more. But for a first time attempt, Marketman sees merit in a Pan de Lard. Sounds cooler than Pan de Manteca, don’t you think? :)



  1. Angeli says:

    this might sound weird, but the secret of a good bread is by adding ice during baking in another pan.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 6:57 am


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  3. Marketman says:

    Angeli, last paragraph. Essentially, the steam in the oven when you place the bread into it, allows the dough to expand further, before the crust sets, dries and is crisped. commercial ovens have automatic “spritzers” that steam the baking bread. Oddly, however, brick or wood fired ovens do not have this moisture thing and they too yield fabulous bread…

    Jan 15, 2013 | 7:04 am

  4. anna says:

    manteca is spanish for butter. Here in south america, we have a bread called pan de grasa, that is bread with lard and it does not look or taste like pan de sal at all.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 7:58 am

  5. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    While you can get fresh (from the oven) pandesal here in the Bay Area, its hard to find anything that would qualify as ‘artisnal’. But what frustrates me the most are the Filipino bakeries that seem to immediately put product straight from the ovens and into the bags. I like fresh bread as much as the next guy, but its seems strange to see shelves of pandensal clouded with condensation inside the plastic.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 8:03 am

  6. ami says:

    Almost there! My friend shares your quest for the perfect home made pan de sal. Last time he experimented, his pandesal turned too dense and heavy.. more monay than pan de sal.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 8:16 am

  7. R V says:

    you might want to check out http://www.chefbrad.com/ Chef brad does a show on bread rolls making. His technique helps. He can be seen on cox cable on wednesday afternoon (US Time) on BYU-TV.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 8:25 am

  8. Betchay says:

    Great looking pan de sal! and I’ m sure very savory with the use of lard….I like it as it is…I dont like the too airy commercial pan de sal
    Thanks for the tip on adding ice to steam the oven.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:08 am

  9. Bambini says:

    Dear MM, water bottle spray sprayed every now and then works too. or fill a jelly roll pan with clean gravel (wash it well) and put it in the oven bottom shelf. using a long handled ladle pour water on the heated stones. hope this helps.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:20 am

  10. marilen says:

    ‘The brain wandered to lard….’ MM, as much as I love your ‘how-to’ experiments, e.g. the honest to goodness pan de sal – equally love your sense of humor and writing style. You remind me of the late legendary New York Times reporter R.W. “Johnny” Apple Jr. and his …..passion for food and travel (while he covered politics, diplomacy and wars!!!)

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:50 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Bambini, yes, those work too… I have use the spray bottle trick as well, but I read somewhere if you accidentally spray the glass winodw of your oven, you risk cracking the glass! :) The heated stones make sense as well. Lots of hot surface area to create the steam, like a sauna. Anna, thanks for that, learned something, pan de grassa. In Cuba, however, they do call it pan de manteca… and its done with lard, in a loaf shape.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:50 am

  12. Khew says:

    Maybe this may help you achieve the desired results:

    1. Sponge & Dough method. Firstly, halve the amount of yeast. Then, the night before( or whenever you have 8 – 10 hours to spare! ), mix your ingredients sans half the amount of flour, all the salt and all of the fat. Let this sponge ferment/prove overnight, covered, in a cooler part of the premises.

    2. Add in the salt and remaining flour, knead till elastic followed by the fat. Now you have your dough.

    3. Proceed as per your usual.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 10:10 am

  13. Footloose says:

    They look very good. I bought a copy of that book justifying the purchase with that pan de sal recipe alone. The volume measurement must have been for the large crystal Philippine common table salt. If one followed the recipe where the table salt is mined fine table salt, that quantity called for will be way too much, even for something called pan de “sal.” It soon joined somebody else’s cookbook collection. I subsequently developed a recipe for lean pan de sal based on the Dominican pan de agua and the Mexican bolillo that also uses lard.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 10:11 am

  14. Chas says:

    Perhaps a combi steam/convection oven will be in your future, MM! :)

    Jan 15, 2013 | 11:25 am

  15. Roddy says:

    Pan de Fat?

    Jan 15, 2013 | 11:36 am

  16. Debbie says:

    MM, have you tried adding lecinta? This is known as a “bread improver”. I got my supply from the Philippines and I added just a small amount (1/2 tsp) to each bread recipe and it came out more fluffy and soft.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 12:11 pm

  17. Josephine says:

    I think Khew is right, essentially. You need a longer proving period so the result is less dense. I’m not a great baker, but when working with anything yeast-based, I find the sense of smell is your guide…you can smell when the yeast is ready…
    But also, the danger is that you’re working with a Jesuit recipe. I’d never trust those, coming from a family riddled with Jesuits…none of them can cook, the founder, Iñigo (only later latinized to Ignatius) was a mercenary soldier who only became a religious mystic when he became too crippled from war wounds to fight. He was more interested in the ‘proving’ of souls…one of his first followers, later known as Saint Francis Xavier, he described as ‘ the hardest substance I ever had to knead’….

    Jan 15, 2013 | 12:27 pm

  18. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    I need to try this one of these days!! I love old school pan de sal (we used to buy from this old guy on a bike who would deliver to our village, the bread in two small steel drums attached to his bike) but have resigned myself to dreaming about it for now. Do you have any suggestions on storing the dough? My little family would not be able to finish all that bread before it went off :)

    Jan 15, 2013 | 2:02 pm

  19. Mimi says:

    I also use Khew’s method. Prepare the sponge dough at night and proceed as normal in the morning.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 3:51 pm

  20. Marketman says:

    Khew, you are right, that longer sponge period works sometimes, other times to mixed results, depending on recipe used. I do that for ensaimadas and other breads as well. Sister’s recipes incorporate that often for more flavor development in the dough as well. Will have to do a second attempt at this Pan de lard soon… Mimi, thank you so much for the package of goodies you had dropped off in Cebu, including the MSG free chicken cubes! Salamat!

    Jan 15, 2013 | 4:54 pm

  21. Victoria says:

    MM what you employed is the straight dough method of bread baking in which the ingredients are mixed, risen, shaped and baked within a three-hour period. A superior bread with great flavor can be achieved, using the same ingredients, but with less yeast and more time between mixing and baking as explained by Jeffrey Hammelman in Bread. For this recipe, use only 1.25 tsp instant dry yeast or 1.5 active dry yeast. Mix for 6 minutes in a KA mixer then bulk ferment for 3 hours with stretch and fold every hour to develop dough strength. Proceed as with your recipe but lengthen rising time to 1.5 to 2 hours.
    Bake for 20 minutes for a darker crust.
    Joey, you can halve this recipe. I bake bread once a week using either 1 lb or half a kilo of bread flour but I use a digital scale instead of measuring by volume.
    Khew says it above that baking bread using sponge/pre-ferment could yield the desired result.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 5:20 pm

  22. EbbaBlue says:

    I have experimented and played making the “authentic” pandesal last year using MM’s recipes and other foodies, as well as books and also using different mixed of flour and brands.. and got the desired recipe. Pero natigil kasi hindi na kaya ng mga kamay ko ang pag-“knead”. But last Christmas I finally got my Kitchen Aid mixer and was about to try making pandesal with asado meat as a filling, pero naitapon ng hubby ko yung recipe (it was tacked in the ref). Naku…. ang inis ko.

    So, I have to try again, and this time, with this post I have to make adjustment and try this lard. In a mexican grocery, they sell this manteca.. I just hope fresh yon and good quality, kung hindi ewan ko ano ang gagawin ko. Baka lumabas ang pagka- Binibining Pilipina ko, heheheh.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:01 pm

  23. betty q. says:

    Joey…you can make the dough, proof, divide, shape into logs, cut to desired pieces, then lay on a cookie sheet, cut side down and then freeze. The cut pieces aren’t allowed to proof at this point. Once frozen, pack in zip plock blocks.

    When you want to bake some pan de sal, plan ahead of time. Give yourself enough time for you need to defrost the pieces in the cooler at least overnight, cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap while it is defrosting. Next day, uncover, roll in bread crumbs. It will just be defrosted and safe to handle it at this point. Poke a wooden skewer in the middle of the dough. Once it is completely defrosted, it shouldn’t give any resistance. If it does, cover again with plastic wrap nd continue defrosting. After defrosting, continue to proof at room temp.

    Some grocery stores with in-store bakeries or even some big commercial bakeries and some HOTELS proof the unbaked bread dough that have been shaped like frozen croissants, Danishes and such. All their bakers need to do before they call it a night is to put the frozen dough in sheet pans and store them in the cooler for the early morning bakers. Ok…i might have just spilled the beans but am not worried! I am sort of semi retired from the industry and pursuing other interests!

    And yes, nowadays, there are establishments that just produce the frozen unbaked croissants, Danishes, bread, etc. I do know of such establishments.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 9:54 pm

  24. Footloose says:

    Where once neighborhood bakeries made their products from scratch, they are now being supplied with frozen or chilled dough that only need to be shaped and final proofed before baking and just like BettyQ said upstairs, some companies can even supply you with shaped and proofed products, ready for baking.

    This has been happening in the last 30 years and it’s mainly in response to shortages of skilled workers, limited space, environmental concerns, inferior and inconsistent quality of ingredients and the modern taste for softness, fluffiness and eternal shelf life. Critics might chuckle at the overuse of the modifier “artisanal” but I think what it means in bread-baking is back to basics, sans dough conditioners, sans too much sugar, sans anti-stalling chemicals.

    Jan 15, 2013 | 10:49 pm

  25. Mike De Guzman says:

    this is the kind of pan de sal that is sold in our bakery: with a good crust and is substantial inside.

    Jan 16, 2013 | 12:08 am

  26. ahjie says:

    oh, i’m hungry….

    Jan 16, 2013 | 3:02 am

  27. PITS, MANILA says:

    ‘pan de lard’ sounds good. ‘pan de mateca’ almost sounds like ‘pan de taba’ … :)

    Jan 16, 2013 | 5:06 am

  28. joey @ 80 breakfasts says:

    Thanks Betty Q and Victoria!

    Jan 17, 2013 | 12:11 am

  29. robin castagna says:

    I’m enjoying this discussion, :) I’ve been trying to make pandesal to less than desirable results. They always come out either crumbly or flat (they expand to the sides!). :(

    Pa-share pa po ng ideas. Kasalukuyang akong naka-notes. :) Thank you!!!!

    Jan 17, 2013 | 2:15 pm

  30. Socky says:

    I read somewhere that creating steam in ordinary home ovens, like I have, is not recommended as that could damage the thermostat, etc. So, while I know the best way to create that wonderful crust is by spritzing water or pouring water into a separate pan, I’ve hesitated to do so. What’s an aspiring baker to do! Has anybody done this with their home ovens? The oven I have here in Toronto is what the condo came equipped with: a Frigidaire.

    Jan 17, 2013 | 10:52 pm

  31. Weyn says:

    Marketman, I baked baguettes a few months ago and noticed a few improvements in texture by changing up a few things. I added the flour into the yeast mixture a few cups at a time, so that the flour didn’t clump–and therefore, I didn’t have to knead so much later (5 minutes was enough). I also reduced the flour by half a cup (the recipe called for 5 1/2). And, because we were in the hospital the next few days, I had left the dough chilling in the fridge for very long (3-4 days). The result was a very crispy baguette with a light center. I suppose the same treatments could be adapted to your pan de lard. :)

    The very first batch: https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/559432_508064949217315_2069956041_n.jpg
    The improved version: https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/156419_508068675883609_181807702_n.jpg

    Jan 18, 2013 | 9:38 am

  32. nina says:

    My perfect pan de sal recipe is one of Connie Veneracion at casaveneracion.com. It makes crusty pandesal with soft insides but so not shrink at all. It has become my basic bread recipe as well to make focaccia, buns and loaves.

    Jan 18, 2013 | 7:06 pm

  33. Candygirl says:

    Steaming the bread during baking will help with the oven rise and the crust of the bread. However,……using a cast iron pan ruins the pan’s ‘seasoning’ over time (from my experience experimenting with sourdough breads). Unless it will be your designated steaming pan, may i suggest using another sturdier pan.

    Feb 5, 2013 | 2:02 pm

  34. JeremySpeaks says:

    I have tried different kinds of oil/fat, vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, shortening to make pandesal. They all work. The secret seems to be blooming the yeast and giving the dough enough time to rise. This is all done manually since my bread machine has given up on me. I mix 2 cups warm water, a teaspoon sugar, a cup of flour together. To that I add 2 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast (1 teaspoon if I have overnight to leave the dough to rise). Set aside. Mix 5 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons salt, mix 2/3 cup sugar with 1/4 cup of oil of choice. Mix the two. Then add the yeast mix about a half a cup at a time, mixing in between. Knead until dough is elastic and feels uniform. Oil surface, cover, let rise in a warm room minimum of two hours or until roughly double in size. Roll and divide into buns. At this point, I would store some of the dough balls in the freezer for later. The ones to be baked right away, I brush the outside with water, sprinkle/roll in crumbs, cover with damp towel or cling plastic, let rise til double. I bake it in 350 degrees nonconvection oven for 10-15 minutes turning the sheet pan around halfway through for even baking. The result is a bun with crisp crust while inside remains soft, with just enough rise for my taste, not dense at all. I have been meaning to try steaming inside the oven but have not done so…

    Mar 1, 2013 | 1:57 am

  35. JeremySpeaks says:

    It just occurred to me, I have the buns close enough together that when they rise the sides would touch. Maybe that in itself traps the water in the buns and creates steam to make them rise more than if they were not touching together…

    Mar 1, 2013 | 2:01 am

  36. lea paez says:

    miss debie, where in the philippines did you get lecinta?

    Oct 20, 2013 | 2:53 pm

  37. pantone_000 says:

    Hi again! :D
    I’ve just read you post on Kalabasa doughnut that you fried in homemade lard. How’s it made?

    Apr 11, 2014 | 7:02 pm


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