Pandesal (or pan de sal; literally, salt bread) is a rounded bread usually eaten by Filipinos during breakfast.. It is a bread made of flour, eggs, lard, yeast, sugar, and salt. It has a soft, powdery texture and can be prepared in a number of ways by using numerous sandwich spreads. It is also used for dipping into tsokolate (from Spanish chocolate), a Spanish chocolate drink very much like hot chocolate but with pure cocoa as its main ingredient. Despite the literal meaning of its name, the taste of pandesal varies from bland to slightly sweet. It usually costs one Peso (about two cents U.S.), with larger varieties costing 2 Pesos.
Pandesal is the most popular yeast-raised bread in the Philippines. They are shaped like garrison caps due to its unique method of forming. The dough is rolled into long logs (baston) that are rolled in fine bread crumbs first before being cut into individual portions with a dull dough cutter and then allowed to rise and baked on sheet pans. Its taste and texture closely resemble those of the very popular rolls of the Dominican Republic called Pan de Agua and Mexico’s most popular type of bread Bolillos for the reason that they all use a lean type of dough and follow similar techniques that were learned from Spanish or Spanish trained bakers early in their history. As in most commercially produced food items, they vary in quality to meet taste requirements and economic standards of various communities in the Philippines where there are bakers in particular cities and towns that simply produce better quality pandesal such as in certain towns of Pampanga and Bulacan so that they command higher price, gain renown and their pandesal sought after by consumers all over the region.
Pandesal originally started out as a lean roll, traditionally served for breakfast to the accompaniment of other breakfast items such as butter, cheese, various filled scrambled egg or omelets, sausages, bacon, Spanish sardines, jams, jellies and marmalades, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Since it was a lean type of bread, the only ingredients needed were hard wheat flour, water, yeast and salt no different from those used and required by French law for good quality French baguette. Over the years, to compensate for the declining qualiity of wheat flour available that could no longer result in the ideal crusty exterior and strong resistant interior, pandesal underwent a transformation into gradually sweeter and richer type of bread. The common quality though that the old style lean pandesal shares with the modern sweeter version is its coating of bread crumbs which actually now provides its identifying flavor. You can bake pandesal practically out of any type of dough and still come out with something resembling pandesal as long as you roll the formed uncooked dough pieces in fine breadcrumbs. The softness of the new type of pandesal that unaware consumers have finally come to find desirable is actually due mostly to its weak dough structure derived from inferior quality of flour used.