Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pan de Sal

No video this week. Instead, it's back to good ol' fashioned pictures and stories. Pan de Sal is a filipino dinner roll. Growing up, we always had Pan de Sal in the house. If we didn't have "tasty", which is what my parent's called regular sliced white bread, we had Pan de Sal.

There's a filipino bakery that's maybe 10 minutes away from our house where we always would get Pan de Sal. I loved going there when I was younger because I was always able to pick one item for myself. Whether it was a chocolate cupcake, black forest slice or a sugar donut, it would just make the weekend that much better. That bakery always brings me back to those memories and what it's like to be a kid again.

To this day, my parent's still go to that bakery and they still get the same three things. Pan de Sal, Pan de Leche and "Butter Bread". However, for some odd reason, they didn't go to that bakery and we didn't have bread for the week. Well, being the baker of the family, it was time to make my own Pan de Sal!

Recipe by Axille's Corner

1/2 warm water (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 packet or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups plus 3 tbsp unbleached bread flour or all purpose flour
1/2 cups plus
1 tbsp pure cane sugar or plain sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt or regular salt
1/4 warm water (2nd cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or canola oil

Dissolve the yeast in warm water (between 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit). Add sugar and stir, make sure that the yeast is well dissolved. Place it in a warm area of the kitchen.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt then give it a good stir with a wire whisk or a spatula.

Mix the vegetable oil into the second cup of warm water, stir and set it aside.

After the yeast had been activated and foamy, mix and fold it into the flour. Add the water and oil mixture next but in 2 to 3 batches so it will incorporate evenly into the flour mixture. Once the flour starts to stick together, start kneading (I prefer kneading it in the same bowl but you can use a cutting board or a kneading board) Knead the dough for about 5 to 8 minutes until the dough is somewhat smooth. ***TIP: if dough is too sticky, dust it with a tablespoon of flour at a time. I would recommend no more than 2 tbsp as this may make the bread dry and tough. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water and the same rule as the flour applies.***

Once the dough becomes slightly smooth and elastic, place it in the same bowl and cover it with a plastic wrap, an extra cover and towel will help the dough to rise. (Brushing the the bowl with oil will keep the dough from sticking but not really necessary, using a spatula will also help with scrapping it off the bowl). Let the dough rise for a 1 to 2 hours or until it doubles its size. ***TIP: make sure to place it in a warm area.***

 After the dough had risen, place it on a cutting board or a clean surface and divide it into 16 pieces. Divide the dough in halves to have even size portions. After dividing, take one of the dough and start pinching the opposite ends of the dough together, do a half turn and pinch the ends again. This will help smooth out the uneven sides and helps form it into a ball. You may leave it the way it is or knead the dough with the heel of your palm into a circular motion while cupping to control the dough, this will form the dough into a smooth and firm or tight ball.

Place the dough balls into a baking sheet lined up with parchment paper. This will help the bottom side of the dough from sticking and burning. You may use bread crumbs or corn meal to dredge the dough to have the traditional effect (I prefer to eliminate it completely because it is not necessary if the only purpose is to keep it from sticking on the baking tray and for less cleaning).

Put a plastic wrap gently over the dough then cover it with a kitchen towel to help the dough rise. Let it rise for 1 to 2 hours until it doubles its size. ***TIP: This is the most important part of the proofing process so make sure it rises and doubles its size, otherwise, your bread will not be as fluffy and airy. Check the dough after 1 hour, if it hasn't doubled its size, let it rise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Slow rise is very common during the cold season when there's not enough warm air and humidity in the room. Dough rises quickly and easily during the warm seasons, so factor in these types of conditions when making a bread.***

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven at 375 degrees. ***TIP: Only remove the towel and plastic wrap once the oven had been preheated, otherwise this might deflate the dough depending on the temperature of the room.***

After the oven's temperature had reached to 375 degrees, place the baking sheet in the middle rack or center of then oven and bake it for 8 to 10 minutes. ***TIP: Depending on the quantity of the dough balls, if it was divided into 12 pieces or less then bake it for 10 to 12 minutes, if 16 pieces, then bake it for 8 to 10 minutes. Use a timer and set it at 8 minutes then keep watching till the bread starts to turn brown. It's better for the color to be light golden brown as this will continue baking even after removing from the oven.***

Place it on a cooling rack and wait for 5 minutes before serving. Serve it with your favor spread or eat it plainly and enjoy.

-Aaron John


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