Basic Breakfast Buns October 17, 2009

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The mornings are getting colder.  We begin to shy away from cold cereals and shift to a warm bowl of Quaker oats or to a generous platter of thick pancakes with brown sausage links, crackling bacon bits and Maple syrup. 

Or else we look forward to honest-to-goodness homemade breakfast buns.  You may have heard of the saying that a baby is God’s way of telling us that life must go on.  Well, warm buns are heaven’s way of telling us that we ought to get our buns off our bed and head straight to the kitchen.  Buns also reinforce the idea that breakfast is a sacred ritual that should never be skipped. 


I do feel sorry for people who deliberately stay away from breads – any kind of bread – simply because they’re fattening.  How can anyone not like bread, especially the sweet ones?  I can imagine getting tired of sourdoughs and baguettes after awhile but buns that are mildly sweet and soft – they’re to die for, don’t you agree?

These basic breakfast buns go with anything – scrambled eggs, egg salad, tuna, ham – or more simple fillings like jam and peanut butter.  Why, they’d probably taste just as heavenly with mashed sweet beans or custard!

People back home had their own version of buns which they called pan de sal.  Try googling the recipe and you’ll get a dozen different ways of making them – some are with the basic ingredients of yeast, water, sugar and salt; some are made with eggs; still others are made with evaporated milk or regular milk.  Mine is a mish-mash of these ingredients and I’d be happy to send you the recipe.  E-mail me at  If you like these, you’ll also like Spanish bread (

Whichever way you make it, pan de sal isn’t pan de sal without bread crumbs on top.  If you eliminate the crumbs, then your bread turns into a mamon or a type of bread that would raise the eyebrows of your fellow Pinoys who’ll ask, “ano ba ito na ginawa mo?” (translation:  what in heaven’s name is this thing you just made?)

The country was recently ravaged by a couple of typhoons.  I saw some footage on TV about rescue and relief efforts – boxes and boxes of food and clothing.  I hope those boxes contained a lot of rice and flour because Pinoys, as you might have guessed, love their rice and their bread!  During emergencies, they will survive and with generous amounts of good humor – as long as they have their kanin (rice) and tinapay (bread).



Testing my Baker’s Scissors July 17, 2009


pain d'epi

The first time I was smitten with bread making (my “dough odyssey” started early this winter), I didn’t want to go all out for baking gadgets because I was afraid it might be just another passing fancy.  Baking one loaf alone takes about 3 to 4 hours so I wasn’t sure my new bread hobby would stick.

One of the first baking tools I spent money on was a good pair of baker’s scissors. The shape of the pain d’epi (wheat stalk bread), which requires the use of scissors, seemed like a challenge especially for a bread novice.

The pair of scissors was rather expensive, but I thought it was a good idea to invest in good quality tools if I wanted to create acceptable bread shapes.

pain d'epi1

Now my confession:  the first picture you see isn’t a real pain d’epiPain d’epi, like the baguette, is a crust bread.  What I used to practice my “cutting skill” was a regular recipe for bread rolls.  Like I said in an earlier blog, I have not yet ventured into crumbs, crusts, rye and sourdough.  I like to make plain white loaves, rolls and sweet breads. I’m sure there’ll be another time for learning how to achieve excellent crust breads.

If you want to try a genuine pain d’epi recipe and want clear instructions on how to shape it, go to this link:  The owners of this web site wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day which I enjoyed.  Their pain d’epi looks a lot more attractive and authentic than mine does.  You can certainly see the huge difference.  Their pain is a lot thinner with a much better crust (and bite). 

As far as shaping the bread is concerned, though, I was pleased with the outcome, considering it was my first attempt.  For the pain d’epi cut, remember to:

  • hold your scissors at a 45 degree angle
  • gently hold one end of the dough as you make a swift and precise cut on the dough, without boring your scissors all the way through.  The recommendation on the web site is to leave a 1/4 inch space from the cutting board
  • after the first cut, gently manipulate it over to one side (that is, away from the dough roll, as if making a leaf)
  • then make another cut at a distance of half an inch from the first cut and gently manipulate over to the other side (if you laid your first cut to the right, the second cut should be to the left)
  • repeat the cutting method until you’ve reached the end of the dough

Here’s a close-up of one cut:

pain d'epi2

If the prospect of spending 3-1/2 to 4 hours to make bread discourages you, I recommend Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  It refutes some of the generally accepted methods of bread making with surprising results that prove the authors know what they’re talking about!  In the link I provided, there is a step-by-step on the cutting procedure with crystal clear photographs.  And, they have very good recipes for no-knead bread.  Yes, no-knead!