Pan de Sal / Salted Bread

Making pan de sal or salted bread from scratch is extremely comforting. desal1A reasonable amount of kneading, the texture and rise of the dough, the cutting into familiar shapes, the rolling in the breadcrumbs and the smell of baking bread are all better than a valium for soothing nerves and returning to equilibrium. I haven’t made this local classic in perhaps 25 years. And the last time I made it, I distinctly remember my mom saying it was okay but not really good enough…because it started to get hard after a few hours…hmmm, it MUST have been good bread then…no preservatives, no added liquids to make it sweeter, softer, lighter and AVOID getting hard. Just yeast, water, flour, salt and eggs…and the result is a delicious bread that is the perfect foil for all of the great “palamans” everyone mentions in an earlier post on pan de sal. I was inspired to make this bread last weekend when I spied a very simple sounding recipe in the Aboitiz Family Cookbook (a privately published and distributed collection of family favorites). I altered the recipe just slightly and I was extremely pleased with the results.

I started this bread at 5 in the morning. desal2There is something about rising dough in the still of dawn that is extremely peaceful. We were eating freshly baked pan de sal by about 9 in the morning. Make a starter with 1/3 cup lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon sugar (I used less than the original recipe as I don’t like pan de sal sweet) and 1 tablespoon of yeast or two packets of active dry yeast (Fleishman’s or similar yeast). Dissolve yeast and sugar in the water and leave for 10 minutes or so. Make sure the yeast is alive by checking that the mixture bubbles and froths. Next mix 1.5 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 3 eggs and 1 cup of boiling water together. Pour hot water into mixture of egg, salt and oil slowly or you may end up with poached eggs… Pour in the yeast mixture and mix. Add 5-6 cups of flour and use the paddle attachment on your mixer to mix then the dough hook to knead until smooth… or knead with your hands on a clean floured counter. The dough will “feel right” and the flour amount varies with flours, weather, etc. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours or until double in size.

Form into a long log and or two and roll in fine white breadcrumbs. Cut into smallish pieces that you then stand desal3with one of the newly cut sides face down to the pan. Ideally, you should have two points at the top of the dough that will rise and when cooked, give pan de sal that authenthic look, unlike commercial versions today that are all puffy, spongy and attached to each other. Place on a greased baking sheet or on a silpat non-stick mat and let it rise for another hour or so. Put into a pre-heated 375-400 degree oven and bake for just 15-20 minutes until a light brown. As soon as it emerges from the oven, cut into the bread, put a big blob of unsalted butter and eat while rolling your eyes. There are few things in the world as good as freshly baked bread. This recipe is a nice quick version and the results are about 8.5/10 on the Marketman home baked bread scale. It looked good, had a nice crust, was slightly chewy inside (not just airy) and tasted great. I used a hard wheat flour from the bakery (primera) but the original recipe uses all-purpose flour which is more readily available for home cooks.


57 Responses

  1. This is definitely something I have to try making. The pan de sals out there have somewhat disappointed me and I have tried different recipes but they were still not IT. Would you have an idea where I can get some good quality flour in Manila? Thanks.

  2. Your recipe sounds so simple and easy unlike the ones I’ve tried before. Have tried making pandesal on my own five different times from recipes I found over the net but wasn’t very happy with the result. Never found a good pandesal at any of the oriental shops in London. So I need to give this a try and will let you know the result. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  3. Just came from the Filipino store today and they were selling pan de sal, I could tell it was “commercial” too airy (sure been proof longer than it should be)

    My cousin sent me her recipe and I have made this few times.
    But with MM permission I will kitchen test yours.

    “no preservatives, no added liquids to make it sweeter” I truly agree to this MM!!!

  4. How I would love to bake my own bread … but the carb-lessness that has invaded my household prevent me from pursuing culinary experimentation this holiday season. =)

    I’m under the impression that unlike you MM, most Filipinos prefer their pandesal with an underlying sweetness. I personally prefer it just a tad sweeter than your recipe suggests.

  5. Thanks for the recipe MM!

    I’ve tried making my own for so long but my pan de sal never turn out quite as good as the bakery bought ones.

    Maybe the boiling water that you put in yours would make all the difference.

    I’ll try your recipe this weekend.

  6. This is the ultimate in foodiedom. Making your own pandesal. Outrageous! Ha ha ha I say this in a nice way. Admiringly actually since I dont have the patience to bake bread, too much waiting around and I dont like messing up the kitchen. No katulong here! Anyway, there is nothing like fresh bread. I wonder whether I can use my bread maker for this? At least as far as the dough process. I bought it but I remember using it but twice. In Malabon, there is a lady who delivers fresh pandesal! Twice!!! Around 6 am and at 7. No one at the condo in Taguig. In LA, they make the worst pandesal. Sweet, extra large monsters that I HATE! I prefer small crusty ones and definitely not sweet. I like chinese ham with some fat in it as palaman the best, queso de bola and mayo, or butter and cheap queso! Yummm

  7. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Always wondered if I could do it (make my own pan de sal). Now here’s my chance! You have made it sound oh-so-very within reach :) I must echo Hchie’s question…what flour would you recommend for this and where in Manila can we get it? Also, what flour would you recommend for bread in general? Have been starting to make my own so any bit of knowledge you can throw my way will be greatly appreciated! :)

  8. Hchie,I bought a sack (25 kilos) of “primera” flour from a bakery supply store in Nasugbu (simply because I happened to be there) but I would imagine you can try buying this at any serious neighborhood bakery or bakery supply store. Primera is a hard wheat flour, which as my sister explains it, has more gluten which helps in bread rising I think. This is the flour used in all those bakeries that have cheap sweet colored bread but believe it or not they use flour intended primarily for baking. If you can’t find this, look for a good all-purpose flour and hope for the best… I saw unbleached all-purpose flour at Rustan’s once that might work. Since there seems to be interest, I will post a picture of the flour for everyone to see. Everyone, be patient with the recipe, it costs next to nothing so don’t be afraid to make two or three recipes at a time with slight variations in sugar, salt, kneading, etc. to find the pan de sal you really like. It is a shortcut recipe however, but can yield a very satisfying bread. Abroad, a high gluten bread flour would probably work well with this recipe. Schatzli, this recipe I got from the Aboitiz cookbook, and yes, of course, feel free to give it a go… Wysgal, it’s easy to adjust sweetness, just add a tablespoon or two to the liquid mixture before you add the flour; I like mine more on the salty side… kiko and linda, let me know how it turns out, I hope it works… rampau, hot pan de sal straight out of the oven with a blob of butter is one of those great things in life, btw, in my earlier post on pan de sal lamans, a reader posted a recipe for a breadmaker you may want to try it, but I haven’t… Joey, muster up some courage, go to a local bakery and ask to buy a couple of kilos of primera, if that fails, let me know and I will search for a real bakers supply store you can check out…

  9. Now this is why i like food blogs. An attempt at proper, old-time classic pan de sal, starting at 5 in the morning to boot. Out-f&^$-rageous, as in one of the other posts. love it. MM, i agree w you 1000% on all the pan de sal issues: commercial ones too sweet and cottony soft (the sweetness really annoys the s–t out of me),your preference for saltier crustier more substantial pan de sal (it is called pan de SAL after all), and the use of hard wheat bread flour.

    It’s pretty sad–when you think about it–that we can’t find good pan de sal in the Philippines anymore. It’s a reflection of the state this country is in. It’s all about cheap, quick fixes because the people cannot afford quality. Think about it: all the best cities in the world have artisan bakeries focused on top-quality breads.

    I’m in the food business myself and am seriously contemplating an attempt at a traditional bakery with real pan de sal as one of the products. Thanks for this little ‘push’. Primera flour, good tip.

    Incidentally, have you seen those pan de pugon/pan de manila bakeries popping up all over town? (who hasn’t?). i’ve never actually tried the product, suspecting the usual excessive use of sugar. Does anyone have a rating for their pan de sal?

  10. I’ve tried them yes, at 4 AM once. They are a doughy mess. Too big for my taste. You’re right about the sugar. I’d say 3 out of possible 10. I’m definitely not coming back. The bakery in our Malabon neighborhood does it much better. The problem I think is that the real nice pandesal, the ones we like, have a very short shelf life. By noon, it’s hard as a rock. The commercial pandesal lasts longer because they are soft and airy. So if you’re going to start a business, you’ll have to think about that.

  11. Looks very pan de sal like, A for looks. Now what’s with the eggs?
    You can increase shelf life by making your starter the night before so the lactic acids have a chance to develop,or a 1/4 tsp. of citric acid will also do the trick. Pan de sal should be eaten asap, they also freeze well.

  12. We made the pandesal yesterday and found that it didn’t rise as well as it should and I’m sure it was due to the excess salt which is a yeast inhibitor. Methinks it should have been 1.5 teaspoons instead of 1.5 tablespoons of salt. We will try modifying the recipe and will post you the results.Wish me luck!

  13. linda, shucks. bummer that didn’t work. Maybe the yeast isn’t as fresh as it should be? I did use 1.5 tablespoons salt. If you want to reduce that, bring it down to 1 tablespoon but not less than that… Sister, you got me on the eggs too…I thought it was strange but I tried the recipe and the results were pretty good…

  14. is this an easy knead bread? I can’t stand sticky dough. For i don’t know how to knead :(

    MM, can i use bread flour instead? I bought it P23/K in quiapo

    What kind of dough cutter do you use? plastic / metal /wood? I believe there’s a diffrecne between wood and plastic. The “putok” type of pan desal uses wood (i think)

  15. fawn, yes wood is best though the ones in the photo were cut with a plastic one (that’s all I ad around when I made them). I find a metal one makes too clean of a cut but it works in a pinch too… Yup, try it with bread flour, should be okay… be patient, learning to do this recipe may take several tries… It’s a bit sticky but nothing like ensaimada dough…

  16. Thanks MM! I only tried baking breads around 5x and i always end up with sticky dough. I hope you don’t mind more questions Ãœ
    1. What if i use instant yeast instead? What changes should i make?
    2. Do you let the mixer do the kneading? Does the dough cleans the sides (and bottom?) of the bowl?
    3. When you say the amount of flour will vary depending on the weather… hot weahter = less flour? cold weather = more flour?
    4. When you let the dough rest,cover it with plastic?

  17. I miss the pan de sal that my lola used to buy. Crusty on the outside, soft and realy white on the inside,not a trace of sweetness. And rock hard by the end of the day. Haha. In Bacolod, they would sell pan de sal quite close to the classic ones at a place called Tita’s (for Conchita Silverio). Unfortunately, I heard that the Silverio family has finally decided to close its doors after decades of giving Negrenses that lovely pan de sal. I don’t like any of the pan de sals out there so I rarely buy.

    This is a great site MM! Finally tried out Galileo. Lovely!

  18. Fawn, I don’t use instant yeast, the ordinary yeast works well and it doesn’t cost too much. I have also only tested the recipe with the yeast I normally use. I let the mixer do some of the mixing and some of the kneading. It is a fairly dry-ish dough compared to say ensaimada which is incredibly sticky. However, I do a few minutes of kneading by hand to “feel” the dough. I find that if the weather is humid or rainy the dough needs a little more flour… Cover the resting dough with a damp clean cloth kitchen towel in a corner of your kitchen that has no drafts. For slower rises, I sometimes put it in the fridge to slow the rise of the dough. Maddie, glad you liked Galileo…if you experiment with this recipe above, you may get a pan de sal close to what you described!

  19. thanks MM for that information. I read mixed suggestions in handling a dough, some grease while some floured their hands….

  20. Woke up at four this morning to make this and had pan de sal by eight.I was able to come up 12 buns bigger then I would have wanted :) We liked the saltiness of it so we had it with unsalted butter and rasberry jam for breakfast and cream cheese and sharp cheddar for merienda.I kinda undercooked them to just a light golden brown and toasted them as we ate and it had a nice crusty outside which is just what we’re looking for. As of tonight, it still hasn’t turned to rock solid.

  21. Hchie, glad to hear this worked for you. So far about 4 like the recipe, and 1 had some difficulty with dough rising…

  22. Thanks for your recipe MM. I did try it on the weekend (less salt/more sugar) and it turned out really well. I’ll send some pics later in the week pag di ko nakalimutan.

    I made sure na di pa “expired” ‘yong yeast na ginamit ko and also i think using boiling water made a big difference.

    Salamat ulit!

  23. I’ve had a lot of mishaps with my dough rising until I learned to use water with a temperature between 110-120F when dissolving the yeast. I have since had quite a few successful attempts and it’s a good gauge for knowing if my yeast is still fine.

  24. Hchie, you are absolutely right…too cold or too hot is bad for the starter with yeast. I used about 110 degree temp for my starter. I was surprised by the boiling water move later in the recipe but it does seem to work… Kiko, glad this worked for you too.

  25. hello Mr. MarketManila! I am a regular reader of your food blog (you are one of my favorites=)) I think you have authentic taste and write so witting well about food that I can feel your love and passion for it.

    I adore food as well…and I share the same sentiments and joy you have on making this wonderfully delicious yet humble bread of ours…can we say it is our national bread? I too make my own bread and i love waking up in the wee hours of the morning to make pan de family thinks its a crazy thing for me to do since its just so easy and cheap top buy them from the panaderia…i’m glad to find people like you who understands the solemnity, comfort and fulfillment making simple bread can give =)

  26. Jennifer, those who have never tried baking at 4am will simply never get it…heehee. Aren’t we sure of ourselves???

  27. In between sems right now, and tried this. They’re rising in the oven as I write. I noticed the bread doesn’t rise very much with the mixture of all-purpose & leftover whole wheat flour I used.

    My hunch is that it’s the gluten that’s the key: hence the better results with primera & bread flour.

    Next time I do this (maybe later this week) I’m going to add extra gluten to the all-purpose and see how it turns out. I may try (for the heck of it) a batch with self-rising. I used to bake bread all the time in high school, so getting this right (I’ve never tried doing pan de sel) will be an interesting challenge.

  28. Yes Sir:
    I’ll try to use your recipe to make pan de sal but I’d like to know how to do it using af reshly ground either wheat lour or spelt flour.
    Thanks for the response.I’m expecting it.

  29. Dulce, I have never tried this with whole wheat or spelt flour. I guess just go ahead and experiment. Yeast and flour is cheap so just keep on trying…

  30. ei…wud?

    it’s good trying to experiment.. you get new tastes or even better tastes… good thing!! keep up the good work and great creativity.. nice job!! hehe..

  31. oh yeah.. umm.. i’m gonna try using your recipe.. hehe.. i’m gonna find out how it taste..hehe.. peace!!
    ~nikuie~ Ü

  32. It sounds easy to make. I will try it tonite. I’ve been forever searching for a pandesal recipe. I tried one but it didn’t turn out right. The dough never raise. Maybe, I’ll get it right this time.

  33. I really want to know how to make senorita bread instead of pandesal. Are they the same bread type of ingredients?

    Hope to hear from you soon………….


  34. This is my second try. For the first one I had difficulty with rising. Maybe it was too cold of a day. Today I made a second attempt. It’s quite balmy for a winter day here. I followed all procedures except I used another 2 tbsp sugar extra after I poured the boiling water. I let my kitchen aid do the kneading for 10 minutes with the paddle and setting on “stir” adding flour by tbsps after the first 4 cups until the bowl’s side is clean. The dough was a little sticky so I finished bu kneading by hand with a little dusting of flour until it was smooth and elastic. Oh and I used bread flour.I covered the bowl with press and seal plastic, loosely, and put it inside the unlit oven. I had to wait maybe a little over 3 hours for the first rise.I baked @ 400*F.

    I must say this is the best tasting pan de sal I ever had. I am used to eating the commercial soft ones over here.

  35. i’m a baker here in US. making pandesal in a small bakery is really fantastic. although my recipe is somewhat contrasting (sweeter taste, fluffy, and are as big as my fist :D), it leaves us no choice, it’s dictated by the market here- customers demands it that way. personally, have it my way of doing it, I WILL GO FOR YOUR RECIPE, SIR. the only authentic way that i do is cut it manually, other than that, its all for the sake of making it how customers like it. i will try your recipe and i’d like to thank you for posting a real authentic way of making Pan De sal.

  36. thanks, mm. another wonderful recipe! makes very nice authentic-tasting pan de sal. made it twice already and looks like it’s going to be regularly featured in our kitchen :)

    Sister said “Now what’s with the eggs?”… i’m curious, are there normally no eggs in pan de sal?

  37. dee bee, yes, traditional recipes wouldn’t have the egg, and the hot water move is unusual as well. my sister is a pand de sal expert so my shortcut recipe here, courtesy for the most part to the Aboitiz cookbook, is anathema to her… :)

  38. thanks for the reply, mm. do you think if i ask nicely, your sister will share her recipe? my dad, the resident baker, is the one using this recipe. he made one more batch early this morning… we just can’t enough of this yummy bread :) thanks again!

  39. dee bee, I have tried her recipe but can’t seem to get it right, will ask her the next time she is here to demonstrate, but she doesn’t measure really, she touches the dough to feel if it is the right consistency… Oh, don’t eat TOO MUCH pan de sal, it’s rather fattening, you know… :)

  40. yats so easy to follow and yet so delicious and nutricious….

    i love this i’ve been looking for this recipe for ages.

    i love baking but i never try making bread thank you so very much indeed………
    next time i will try to sell it hehehehe

  41. Hey MM, could the primera flour (1st class) be the cause of the “chewy” and dense interior of the pan de sal? I’ve been using primera flour recently and have noticed this in the breads I’ve baked (from white bread to yeast raised biscuits).

  42. wow, thanks for the recipe; it sounds quite simple.

    yeah i hate those small commercial types that have harder crusts, parang hindi pinag-tiyagaan. i want my pandesal moist and hot. steaming hot. always. until it gets to the customers’ stomachs. set it up in mountainous, cold area towns and watch working men and moms flock to the store like bees.

  43. Hi MM, thanks for the recipe, I never thought making pan de sal is simple and easy, not until I have tried baking my own, of course thru your recipe. I am so fortunate that for my first try I didn’t have any problem with the rising and also with the texture of the dough (despite of the cold weather). But, I just wanna ask whether your pan de sal is really chewy instead of airy? Coz my husband wants his pan de sal airy like the ones being sold from the bakeries in the Philippines(unfortunately there are no bakeries selling pan de sal here), but my pan de sal turns out chewy. If I want it to be airy what should I do? One more thing, it’s also too salty for my taste, I wonder whether I can reduce the amount of salt, will that affect the dough most esp the rising? Thanks a lot.

  44. hi MM…i wanted to try this pan de sal recipe of yours, the 1st bread recipe ever that I’m gonna be yeah no experience in kneading or whatsoever. I’m ready to fail…lol..but i’ll try again. Only question is I live in a very dry area..Reno, NV 0% precipitation, no humidity…just dry weather…will does affect making pan de sal. So what’s your suggestion?? thanks…hope to hear from you soon.

  45. breadnob, if reno is way above sea level, it could affect the bread… but I am not sure how. Just try it and see if it works, it can’t hurt, and the ingredients don’t cost an arm and a leg…

  46. Hello MM

    I have been looking for this recipe, but I was curious why don’t you use baking powder nor baking soda? Isn’t that some what essential is baking?


  47. TT, not all baked goods have baking soda or powder. In this case yeast makes the bread rise. If you think about it for decades if not centuries, bread was made WITHOUT the benefit of baking soda or powder. Happy baking!

  48. Hello, MM. I just chanced upon your blog as I was researching all things pan de sal. Is it possible to create the same texture without using all-purpose flour and refined white sugar? I’m really trying to veer away from highly-processed ingredients and swap them for better ones.

  49. Hi MM, you mentioned that you don’t use instant yeast for baking bread. But what I commonly see in groceries and stores that sell baking stuff are instant yeasts. Where can I buy ordinary yeast here in manila?

  50. hi, im a dealer of San Miguel Purefoods here in Metro Manila. We also have fresh (compressed) yeast (WHITE ROSE INDUSTRIES) and some instant yeast (SAF). I’ll post a list of the products we have. Thank You.

    BAKE BEST Baking Powder (double-acting)
    ZUPRIM (Bread Improver)



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