The bread turned out the way I remembered it. Soft. Luxuriously soft bread sticks coiled like croissants. Beautifully browned. Buttery and sweet.

The delicate grit of sugar crumbled between my teeth as I took a bite. A ridiculously huge bite, I am embarrassed to admit. I brushed the sugar off my cheeks and took another hefty helping. Before long it was gone and I helplessly craved for more. With my sugar-stained fingers I picked up another piece. This time, I promised myself to relish it and not to rush.

Spanish bread, the popular Filipino sweet bread stick typically enjoyed for breakfast or mid-day merienda, is very similar to the snail-shaped, brioche-like ensaimada but coiled in a different way. The dough is rolled into a sheet, brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs and sugar, then rolled into a stout stick like a Mexican bigote (bread shaped like moustaches). Why the roll is called Spanish bread is unclear. There is nothing obviously Spanish about it. Its similarity to the Mexican pan dulce and the Spanish sugary ensaimada may very well be the reason it got its name.

I dunked my second piece in the pool of black coffee. Or was it my third? I certainly wasn’t counting. Coffee sloppily dribbled down my chin but I didn’t care. Instantly, I got lost in the coffee-soaked bite. I savored the butter, sugar, and coffee. Truly gratifying. There was no other place I’d rather be than in my kitchen, next to a pot of hot coffee and warm, homebaked Spanish bread.


Spanish Bread


Spanish Bread Recipe
Recipe adapted from The Best of the Maya Kitchen: The Complete Guide to Baking, makes 16 rolls

For the dough

2 tsp or 1 pack instant yeast
1/4 cup tepid water
1 teaspoon sugar

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs

For the assembly

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sugar

Dissolve yeast in tepid water, which is water with a temperature anywhere between 100 and 110 degrees F. To proof yeast, add 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume then yeast is active.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the milk, melted butter, eggs, and yeast and combine well. On a clean surface dusted with flour, knead the mixture into a smooth elastic dough. Add more flour, if necessary.

Let the dough rest in a bowl greased lightly with canola oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until the size doubles, about three hours.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape each part into a log and divide into eight equal parts with each piece weighing about 2-1/2 ounces. Roll each piece into a 3- by 5-inch rectangular sheet. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and sugar, and roll the sheet like you would a jelly roll. Start from one corner and roll towards the opposite corner. Then sprinkle the rolled dough with more breadcrumbs and sugar.  Place the pieces with the seam-side down on a greased baking sheet. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Spanish bread freezes very well. Toss a frozen roll in the microwave and reheat for 30 seconds.


Spanish Bread

Spanish Bread


Filipino Bread Recipes


Ensaimada Recipe

Imagine this. A soft brioche bun lavished with melted butter and a flurry of sugar. Flour, butter, sugar, yolks, and milk are blended together and formed into a deep yellow dough that’s rolled and twisted into a beautiful coil, and then baked until its crust turns into a radiant hue of golden brown.


Pan de Sal Recipe

Pan de sal is the classic Filipino bread. It is actually not Spanish in origin, but Portuguese. Pan de sal means salted bread but it is actually sweeter than it is salty. It is traditionally served as a breakfast roll — buttered and dipped in coffee — but it has made its way to the dinner table.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Maria for writing. I’ve never tried doubling the recipe but I don’t see any reason it will not work if you did. I think this is one of those recipes whose size can be increased by simply doubling or tripling the ingredients except the yeast. Scroll down to the bottom of this link to read more about doubling bread recipes: Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • MariaD

    Hi Jun, I ended up making 2 different batches, both turned out delicious…just not as pretty as your pictures. I will have to practice my rolling. Thanks again for another great recipe. Your tocino and kare kare recipes are now regular menu. So far we are 3 for 3.

  • Jun Belen

    Happy to hear it worked out and you enjoyed the recipe. The dough is very versatile. You can fill it with coconut, butter, and sugar to make pan de coco or with ube jam to make pan de ube. Thank you for following the blog, Maria!

  • Mae Flores

    Hi SIr Jun..i tried this recipe 5x already and it’s good. But im just wondering if its the same measuring cup for the dry and liquid ingredients?

  • Jun Belen

    Hi Mae, the measurements for both dry and liquid ingredients are by volume. You measure the flour, for example, using a dry measuring cup whose top you can level off using a butter knife. You measure the milk using either a dry measuring cup or a liquid measuring cup with a spout. Either one is good to use. I hope this helps.

  • Rafaela Christiana ⚓

    Hello I was wondering if you could use panko bread crumbs? Because I can’t find any other brand here :)

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, you can use panko breadcrumbs but give it a whirl in a food processor or coffee grinder or even mortar and pestle to make them finer. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

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  • C Marbella

    Hello! Made this recipe for the first time today, and am sure it will be the first of many! The weather must be perfect (in NJ) today because the dough only took an hour to double in size (covered in plastic, in the oven). They didn’t come out as perfectly rolled as yours, but they are yummy. Thanks for the recipe!

    I enjoy reading your blog .. wish you continued success with it ..


  • Chuchee

    Hi!! Baked this recipe today,,and it’s so perfect says my hubby… :) thank you so much for your recipe.. God bless!!!

    Chuchee :)

  • Maria

    I make this recipe twice a week or more. My Arab husband and 5 year old son absolutely love it. They are very hard to please with Filipino cooking but this one is definitely a winner.

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  • Anonymous

    I used your recipe on my blog and “transformed” it into German & metric. Thx for sharing!

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  • verna lanier

    Your Pandesal is the best so far I can find. Thanks!

  • Oksana

    What kind of breadcrumbs do you use for this recipe?

  • Jun Belen

    I use the regular breadcrumbs you find in the grocery stores without any kind of seasoning.