What Is The Best Flour For Pandesal?

Your pandesal may not have proofed long enough and the gluten may not have formed properly if it comes out of the oven hard (but not burnt). Before adding it to your flour, try testing your yeast to make sure it hasn’t gone bad by blooming it in warm milk.

Can I make pandesal with self-rising flour?

How about sourdough then? Actually, sourdough baking deserves its own article, so I’ll be posting a new recipe very soon. I will give a very simple breakdown in the interim.

Instead of using yeast, you can use 200 grams (7 ounces, or about 1 cup) of thoroughly hydrated, active sourdough starter if you prefer to utilize sourdough. Reduce the recipe’s flour and milk amounts, respectively, to 4.25 cups (510 grams) and 1 cup, respectively (240 ml). You should prepare for a longer rising time for sourdough pandesal than yeast pandesal. My sourdough mix needed an additional hour to puff up enough to bake after rising for roughly 8 hours in total.

Flour

The best type of flour to use when creating pandesal, or indeed any bread, is a topic that is frequently discussed. In the end, it’s a somewhat challenging topic.

Let’s briefly go through why any of this is important first. The endosperm of wheat is ground into a fine powder to create white wheat flour. The final flour’s total protein content and texture might vary significantly depending on the variety of wheat used and the processing method(s) (fineness). Protein concentration is crucial because wheat with greater protein levels produces more gluten. The elastic structure that gluten lends to baked foods made from wheat confines the gases given off by yeasts during the bread-making process, giving bread its airy quality. A very fine, cake-like crumb results from low protein content, whereas an airier, looser, and chewier crumb results from high protein concentration. The fineness of your flour is important since it affects how quickly and easily it will absorb liquid. The fact that different levels of fineness can make it challenging to compare flour measurements based on volume is another factor in why many devoted bakers prefer to employ weight-based calculations.

I used an all-purpose bakers flour to make every batch for this post, but it doesn’t guarantee that your results will be precisely the same. All-purpose flour is often pretty rich in protein (between 12 and 13%) here in Canada. The range for many US all-purpose flour brands is similar (11–13%), although some fall significantly lower (8–10%). Of course, including various nations and processing techniques merely makes this more challenging because nothing is ever simple.

What then should you use if you want to make bread using flour that has a reasonable amount of protein? In the end, I’d advise you to browse the internet for details on your particular area, but this short list should help you get started:

  • Canada – All-purpose flour (APF) works well in most situations. It’s important to note that Canadian wheat is highly regarded throughout the world, and you could even be able to buy Canadian wheat flour in other nations.
  • Use an APF with a higher protein content in the USA, or use bread flour and a 1:1 blend of a lower-protein APF.
  • Use strong flour (also known as hard flour) or a 1:1 mixture of plain flour and strong flour in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. APF and plain flour are comparable in certain ways, while plain flour typically has a low protein content (10%).
  • France – Type 55 flour typically has roughly 11% protein, so it should be effective. However, you might want to add a little type 80 flour to the mix to give it a bit more hardness.
  • Germany – You should achieve a protein content of 11–12% by combining 550 and 812 flours 1:1.
  • The majority of Italian flours are quite soft (low in protein). Your best option is to combine type 0 Manitoba Farina, which is manufactured from high-protein wheat, with standard type 0 flour (9–10% protein). Try a 1:1 ratio to begin with.
  • the Philippines Numerous manufacturers mark particular flours as being the finest for pandesal. In general, hard flours are advised, but individuals who like a softer pandesal may choose to combine a hard flour with a soft, siopao, or all-purpose type.

What sorts of flour you SHOULD NOT use, in brief:

  • Cake flour: These flours are delicate, poor in protein, and don’t allow enough gluten to develop in the dough. However, in a pinch, cake flour and a flour with a high protein content could be used.
  • Baking powder and salt have been added to the self-rising flour. It has less protein as well.
  • Whole wheat flour: Compared to white flour, whole wheat flour absorbs significantly more moisture, tastes extremely different, and has varied protein concentrations. I’m sure you could make a wonderful whole wheat pandesal, but you’d have to completely change the recipe.
  • There may be a way to make an excellent pandesal using gluten-free (non-wheat) flours, but it will definitely take much more trial and error than simply changing the flour.

Finally, I’d want to mention bleached vs. unbleached flours briefly. While bleached flours are whitened by the use of chemical agents, unbleached flours are whitened by aging. Benzoyl peroxide and ascorbic acid are two of the more widely used chemical bleaching agents. These boost the gluten content and whiten the flour, respectively. Some flours are also matured with potassium bromate, despite its prohibition in the EU, the UK, and Canada. Another prevalent method for maturing and whitening flour is chlorination, but this method is often only applied to North American cake flours. Compared to unbleached flour, bleached flour has a finer grain and absorbs moisture more quickly. You should be able to make excellent pandesal with any type as long as you keep an eye on your moisture levels. I won’t go into the debates and complexity of this topic any more at this time.

I’ll let you choose the flour(s) you want to use for your recipe at the end, but it’s important to keep in mind that a) it could take some trial and error to determine what works best in your region and b) your personal preferences also matter a lot! Some prefer a pandesal that is chewier, while others prefer one that is softer. I hope the knowledge I’ve given you here will enable you to modify this recipe to suit your personal preferences.

Salt

For the majority of my baking and cooking, I use sea salt with fine grains. In this recipe, you can use any relatively fine salt, including table salt. Large-grained coarse salts, such as flaky sea salts, aren’t the best choice for baking because they don’t dissolve as well and are more challenging to measure precisely by volume.

Butter & Oil

For several reasons, I combine butter and oil in this recipe. Butter is a fantastic flavoring agent, and many people, including myself, want pandesal to have a mild butter flavor. Oil keeps breads moist for a little bit longer and is simpler to work with in a dough. You can choose to use either option exclusively (butter does contain a bit of water, but the quantities are small enough that you can substitute everything 1:1 in this recipe).

Sugar

Pandesal is typically only moderately sweet, particularly when made with eggs and milk. There are no specific guidelines, but the simpler, leaner variety (prepared without eggs or milk) frequently uses less sugar. You may easily change the sugar amount of your pandesal a little in either direction if you want it to be sweeter or less sweet.

For my pandesal, I used regular white granulated sugar. Although I haven’t personally tried it, I believe you can use any of the less-processed light/fine sugars (e.g. fine organic cane sugar). Coarse sugars should be avoided because they are more difficult to evenly dissolve into the dough. If you attempt using a sugar substitute (like stevia), be mindful that the pandesal won’t brown as much because there isn’t any real sugar present (which browns and adds complex flavour thanks to the Maillard reaction). Your rising times might be slightly impacted by lowering the sugar level, either by using a sugar substitute or using less actual sugar. This is due to the yeast’s slower rate of reproduction as a result of having less sugar to eat. I don’t think you would have any trouble getting the dough to rise, but you could notice that you don’t quite have the same volume in your dough. The yeast can still use the naturally occurring carbohydrates in the milk and in the flour.

Methods & Techniques

The categories and recommendations in the sections below are arranged chronologically, so they appear with the recipe’s actual instructions. If you’re looking for specific information, feel free to skip ahead to any one section or another.

Weighing Ingredients

I would definitely advise using a kitchen scale if you have one for baking. Consider purchasing a kitchen scale if you don’t already have one.

Since the majority of my readers are Americans, kitchen scales continue to be a bit of an uncommon item in American (and Canadian) kitchens. In general, this is not a significant concern, but using weights when baking makes everything lot simpler and more reliable. Depending on its fineness, density, and other characteristics, a cup of flour may weigh more or less than 100 grams, but 100 grams is always 100 grams. You may make sure you’re splitting the dough into equal amounts by using a kitchen scale (as you can see in the photo above).

The recipe card’s default settings are US Customary because the majority of my readers are from the USA and Canada (i.e. cups, ounces, etc.). Please pay attention to the tiny button that enables you to switch to metric after this. This recipe is fully annotated in metric, just like all of my other recipes. I use weights for making pandesal and almost all other baked items.

Stand Mixing vs. Hand Kneading

This dough comes together easily if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook. Simply add the ingredients and mix at a moderately low speed as directed in the recipe (I start at a 2 on my KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus, then work up to a 3 to really get it kneading). I’ve noticed that some extra flour tends to collect at the borders, so while you’re working, try to carefully scrape that into the dough a few times. After you’ve finished adding the flour (a little at a time), it should take the dough about 3 to 4 minutes to sufficiently knead. The dough hook should now be encased in something resembling a ball, but the base will still be stretched out and adhered to the bowl’s bottom (see image below). Don’t feel as though you need to add more flour to the dough to make it tighter since this is what you want. I transfer my dough from the mixer bowl to a smaller bowl so that it can rise, giving me the opportunity to check that it is well-kneaded, springy, and extremely elastic. It’s important to note that this finished dough is fairly hydrated (wet), making it slightly sticky. This is beneficial, though, as it results in softer, moister bread. I can tell the dough is where I want it if it somewhat adheres to my hands but doesn’t break apart or pull away in pieces. If the dough is considerably stickier than that, try adding a little extra flour.

Although it’s not particularly challenging, kneading the dough by hand requires more effort than using a stand mixer. The essential procedure is the same: combine the ingredients while gradually incorporating the flour. When kneading the dough by hand, it usually takes about 5-7 minutes once you’ve incorporated all the flour. You might discover that you need to add a little bit more flour than you would with the stand mixer because it’s more difficult to deal with a slightly sticky dough. It will result in a moister finished product if you try to keep the dough as moist as you can while still managing to fold and knead it.

A hand-held mixer with a dough hook can also be used, but be prepared for a bit of a bread rodeo as the large, heavy ball of dough will likely fling your bowl about a lot. Given this plus the fact that you’ll have to operate the mixer for at least five minutes, you could discover that kneading the dough by hand is really less labor.

Leavening

If you haven’t already, I recommend reading the section above on different varieties of yeast and sourdough because a lot of the leavening procedure is built into the materials themselves.

Even though it takes a slight interruption of the procedure, I’ll start with the most crucial leavening tip: make sure to give the shaped buns time to rise before baking. If you don’t let the dough prove again after shaping the pandesal, even if you do everything properly and have the prettiest dough in the world, you’ll get dense, flat bread. To understand what I’m referring to, check at the gif below.

Now for some more broad advice. Thankfully, getting your pandesal dough to rise properly is a fairly hands-off process. You want the shaped buns to puff up by about 50% and the original dough to double in volume. The only thing this actually implies is that you should cover the dough and let it rise, but it’s important to note that the length of time this takes can vary depending on the components used and the baking conditions. Although most yeast-based doughs should rise in a similar manner (don’t use rapid-rise yeast, as I explained above), the amount of time it takes will vary depending on the temperature and humidity of your home or kitchen. Levain (sourdough) pandesal will take a very long time to rise.

To prevent the surface from drying out and toughening, you should always cover your dough while it rises. This is usually done with plastic cling wrap. Since we no longer use it in our home, I cover the dough with a reusable elastic rubber covering and the formed buns with an upside-down baking sheet. Foil or a moist but thin towel are other options.

How do you determine when the dough has risen sufficiently? The classic “doubled-in-size” metric is a good one, but many individuals seem to believe that they are never truly certain when their money has reached this point. Thankfully, there are several additional things to watch out for! The final product of the dough should have an airy bounce. The indentation should gradually bounce back out if you give it a gentle finger poke. It’s important to avoid over-proofing your dough while using any bread recipe (i.e. letting it rise so much that the air bubbles all start bursting). Having said that, you can get away with letting the dough rise a little bit too long because you’ll deflate it before rolling or forming it into buns. Because of this plus the fact that gluten development (and subsequently texture) depends on time, I would argue that it is preferable to let your dough rise for a little bit too long as opposed to not long enough.

Put the covered dough in the refrigerator to slow down the process if you need to stop preparing pandesal for some reason. There, the yeast will continue to grow and duplicate, albeit considerably more slowly. Please note that I have not tried this method with this this recipe or this amount of yeast. You can let your pandesal dough rise in the fridge overnight. I’ll make sure to update this post if anything were to change in the future.

Shaping Pandesal

Let me start by mentioning that you have two main options when it comes to making your pandesal, and either one is absolutely great. This part has the potential to become a whole technique instruction all on its own (which may still happen in the future).

First, you might create the customary bastones that resemble logs (from the Spanish word bastn, meaning stick). These dough logs are rolled, tucked, and then cut at an angle to form rather pointed ovals. These chopped pieces, referred to as singkit (which means “narrow eyes”), would result in oval, somewhat flatter rolls with subtle but noticeable cutting lines on top. Although cutting this kind of pandesal by sight requires some experience, once you get the hang of it, it’s not too difficult. The kind of baston pandesal that is most frequently found in commercial bakeries.

The second alternative is to roll out the dough, cut it into equal-sized pieces, and then roll each piece into a smaller ball. This approach is significantly simpler, yet using a scale to weigh each amount makes it much simpler to achieve consistent results. The second approach gives you the choice of cramming the buns together to make pandesal with soft, bready sides or space them out on the baking surface to achieve a crisp, uniform crust. Many home bakers like to make round pandesal. Additionally, they’re the most typical shape for creating pandesal variants like ube and cheese.

It takes some practice to make a baston and cut it into singkit, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard. Making smaller, slightly flatter pandesal with a beautiful crispy crust is where it excels. These, in my opinion, are the nicest pandesal to have with coffee.

The fundamental technique is divided into 12 steps, which I have listed below. You can also use a knife, but a dough knife (bench scraper) makes this process much simpler. The dough is rather fragile and easily deformed, so try not to touch the cut pieces with extreme care.

  • The dough should be formed into a log and divided into three parts.
  • One of the three pieces should be gently pressed into a large rectangle of dough.
  • Place one of the rectangle’s corners in the middle.
  • Work diagonally to sort of “spiral” the dough into the center as you start rolling the folded down edge into the middle, following the edge of the folded corner.
  • Till you reach the other end, go down the perimeter, tucking and swirling the dough into the center.
  • On the opposite side, tuck a corner in before starting to roll the opposite edge over the first edge.
  • As you roll the opposing edge toward the center, tuck it in slightly.
  • Tuck the new edge into and just over the original rolled portion, once more working at an angle.
  • To smooth out the surface and shape, gently roll and stretch the final baston.
  • The baston is rolled in bread crumbs.
  • Baston should be cut into separate pieces at an angle. Aim for pieces that are roughly 3 cm (a little more than 1 inch) thick and are of equal size.
  • Re-dredge the sliced pieces in the bread crumbs gently. Before baking, place the buns on a baking sheet and let them prove one more. Continue with the remaining pieces.

Pandesal can also be simply (and frequently) formed into more straightforward, round buns. Very little explanation is necessary for this method, however I will mention two points.

First, it is much simpler to guarantee that you are using the same amount of dough for each bun if you use a kitchen scale. As a result, your pandesal will appear uniform and bake evenly.

Second, the completed buns’ spacing is very important. You can have individual buns that are evenly toasted if you spread them out widely on the tray. The edges will meet if they are placed closer together, giving you something more like to a platter bun with soft bread sides. The photo below demonstrates what I’m talking about (along with a baston-cut example). Remember that they will enlarge during the second proofreading stage, bringing them closer together than they were at first.