I grew up eating pandesal — a soft and pillowy sweet bun. It is great with everything from cheese to peanut butter, or even on it’s own. I’ve been wanting to attempt to make pandesal for a long time, but I’ve always felt intimidated by Filipino recipes. I went to school for baking here in Canada, and culinary schools are very heavily influenced by French cuisine. Long story short — I was definitely NOT taught how to make pandesal in school. When it comes to filipino desserts and baking, I’m a complete novice — and I think that’s what scares me about it. I consulted my mom very heavily when recipe testing for these buns, and that helped a lot.
Ube, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a sweet purple yam. It is mild and slightly sweet in taste — perfect for milky, creamy, and sometimes coconutty desserts. I was also inspired to make these because I have a cousin in Manila, Philippines, who also bakes. She’s been selling ube cheese pandesal buns. It has a vibrant purple colour and somehow always pairs perfectly with cheese. That is why, I’ve been wanting to attempt to make these ube cheese pandesals since the first time I laid eyes on it after one of my tita’s posted it on facebook. The best thing about this recipe is that you can make everything from scratch — including the ube halaya, which I’ve listed the recipe below.
Filipino desserts have a special place in my heart, because although I grew up in Canada, Filipino food always reminds me of home. Home in the sense that I grew up eating all this delicious food that was made by my mom and my grandma. I will always have these special ties to the Philippines, because it’s a part of me, and that is why I am horrified at the Anti-Terrorism Bill they are trying to enforce. It basically takes away Filipino’s basic human rights, by taking away the freedom to gather, and the freedom to express themselves. Having an over-broad definition of “terrorism”, e.g, speaking out about issues, gives the government the freedom to wrongly imprison anyone. This bill gives the government the right to invade privacy, through methods such as wire-tapping. It’s just not right. No one deserves to have their basic human rights taken away, and to have the threat of imprisonment looming over you just for gathering or speaking your mind. You can help by signing the petition or donating on Change.org here.
It seems like the world is in shambles right now, but I try to think of it as a time of change, and a time for us to really see what’s important to us. Please keep your loved ones safe and close, and pray for a better world post-COVID. In the meantime, here is the recipe for these ube cheese pandesal buns. Please be sure to check out the video tutorial below as well. Enjoy!
Ube Cheese Pandesal Recipe
This recipe makes around 24 buns.
270g (1 cup) ube, boiled and mashed
512 (4 cups) all-purpose flour
6g (2 tsp) instant yeast)
3g (1/2 tsp) salt
60g (1/3 cup) sugar, divided into 2 portions
70g (1/3 cup) butter, soft
113g (1/2 cup) warm milk
180g (3/4 cup) warm water (I saved the purple water from the boiled yam)
5g (1 tsp) ube extract
135g (2/3 cup) easy melting cheese, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
210g (2/3 cup) ube halaya
2 slices of toasted white bread, blended, for dredging.
- In a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, add your flour, yeast, 1/2 sugar, and salt.
- Add the warm water, milk, egg and ube extract. Mix on low speed for 5 min or until the dough starts to fully combine.
- Increase to second speed, and mix for 4-5 more minutes to let the gluten really form.
- Add the butter, sugar, and mashed ube a tablespoon at a time until everything is in the bowl as the mixer is kneading the dough. Let it mix for another 4-5 min or until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.
- Place into a floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow it to bulk ferment at room temperature for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Remove from the bowl and lay onto a clean work surface, dusted with all-purpose flour. Push out the air in the dough and flatten, then cut into strips and then cut those smaller, weighing them out to 45-50g each.
- Preshape them into rounds, and let them rest for 15 min while your prep your fillings.
- When assembling, flatten each dough ball on a lightly floured surface, spread about 1 tsp ube halaya in the middle, and add some cheese, and gather the edges of the dough, pinching as you go to seal the fillings in. Give it a light roll on the seam side down, and set aside until you finish filling all the dough balls.
- Dredge the dough balls in bread crumbs and lay onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. If the bread crumbs do not stick, brush a little water on top of the dough balls.
- Place into a turned-off oven with a pan of hot water to proof the dough for 45 min or until you can poke the dough and the indent will not spring back up.
- Take the buns out of the oven, preheat to 350F, and bake for 20-25 min or until the buns are browned on the bottom.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly, and serve.
Super Easy Homemade Ube Halaya
454g (about 3-4 purple yams) peeled, and chopped into large 2 inch chunks
1 can (12.5 fl.oz)(10 fl.oz) evaporated milk
1 can (10 fl.oz) condensed milk
50g (1/4 cup) white sugar (optional, my mom likes to leave this out)
60g (1/4 cup) butter, unsalted
- In a large pot, cover the ube in cold water and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Let it boil for about 30 min, or until you can easily pierce it with a fork.
- Drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of liquid to help with mashing.
- Place back into the large pot, and mash with a potato masher with the liquid, and then add the evaporated and condensed milk.
- Place back over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the halaya thickens up. About 20 min. Take off heat, stir in the butter until completely melted and combined, and then place into a large heat-proof bowl to cool.
- Can be enjoyed alone or in an ube cheese bun.