Pandesal baking for when another dry active yeast packet is alive

On Sunday afternoon, I tested another dry active yeast packet from two years ago to see if it was still alive, and I was in luck: it was the 3rd one that was alive out of four, so I have a 75% success rate so far (just two more packets to go!). I wanted to make something easy that would not yield too much, as we are really pushing it with the tiny bit of space still left in our freezer. So I decided on pandesal, a Filipino bread roll (literally meaning “salt bread,” though I have no idea why since there’s so little salt in it…) that is known for being like a round dinner roll. It’s characterized by being very soft, airy, and subtly sweet. Versions also exist other than the regular one with eggs, sugar, and oil that have ube or pandan, but I just wanted something quick and I didn’t want to buy any more ingredients, and so I stuck with the plain version to begin with. I was also disheartened to see that most versions of the ube pandesal recipe online called for artificial ube extract, which is exactly what I did not want. If I’m making it at home, I want it to be all natural with no artificial ingredients! Some versions use ube powder, which I assume to be dried, ground up ube, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I actually saw the ingredients on the packet. So I guess I can keep a lookout for it the next time I’m at a Filipino grocery store.

It was quick to put together the dough, though quite soft and sticky. I kneaded it well in the bowl on Sunday, then rolled it out on Monday and allowed it a second rise. Then, I baked it in the oven at 350 F for 20 minutes, and they came out perfectly: beautifully and evenly browned on top, with a nice, pillowy, airy inside. The dough is sweet, but not too sweet, so I was comfortable giving Pookster some as a treat at the end of dinner. And boy, did she gobble it up! I didn’t want her to have a full bun, so I ended up taking two generous bites out of hers when she offered me some, which of course caused her to wail nonstop (she believes sharing is caring… to a degree :D).

Few homemade things are more satisfying to me than the result of successful, tasty homemade bread. It always hits the spot and makes me feel really accomplished when it comes out right.

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