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Sure, man can't live on bread alone but the pan de sal, along with other panaderia goodies, have always found their way to the Pinoy breakfast or merienda at least once. The local bakery or panaderia is a familiar sight in many Manila neighborhoods, with its glass counters and the warm aroma of bread drifting from the ovens at the back. The bread sold here are simple, almost crude, but comforting.
The panaderia started out as the royal bakeshop of the Spanish government in the 17th century. In The Governor-General's Kitchen, food historian Felice Sta. Maria writes that The Royal Bakery in Intramuros catered to Spaniards who longed for bread from their homeland. The wheat flour were sourced from China and baked by Chinese bakers.
By 1880, nine bakeries were established in Intramuros, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, and Binondo. It grew to 23 all over Metro Manila by 1921. The panaderia sold breads, biscuits and crackers alongside pies, cakes, pastries, and candies–a diverse selection that fully utilized the skills of the master baker or maestro.
Native tuba wine was substituted for sour dough. During the American period, baking powder and yeast were introduced, as well as the use of baking sheets and automatic slicer.
The breads we have now come to love reflect the creativity of local bakers, for not only could they create a multitude of breads out of a single recipe, they could also recycle unsold breads into puddings and fillings for the next day's wares. For both panaderia and buyer, it's convenient and economical.
Herein lies the charm of our local panaderias. We never seem to get bored by the same old stuff, tried and tested by time, market demand and the Filipino penchant for all things sweet and doughy. We give them naughty names like monay or evocative ones like putok. We're happy to dunk them in our coffee or Coke. Here's our list of 10 best local panaderia finds:
The Bread: The ensaymada is a brioche-like bread. This coiled bread is light, fluffy and sweet. Butter is spread on top then sprinkled with sugar and grated cheese. Cheap ensaymadas tend to be dry and topped with margarine, sugar and stringy cheese.
Origin: It is derived from ensaimada, a yeast bun made in Majorca, Spain with pork lard. It is traditionally baked for festivals and celebrations. Also known as Pan de Mallorca in Puerto Rico.
Interesting crumbs: Sta. Maria notes that the original ensaymada was merely dusted with powdered or granulated sugar. Grated queso de bola was added before World War II. The combination of salted duck's egg and cheese were introduced later on in the ensaymadas of Malolos and Barasoain, Bulacan.
The Bread: This is a yellowish soft bread with the traditional split in the middle. Some commercial monay no longer have the suggestive marking on top and are pale in color.
Origin: Monay, according to Gilda Cordero Fernando in Philippine Food and Life, was originally called pan de monja (or nun's bread). It "evolved into the racier monay," which in colloquial Tagalog refers to a woman's privates.
Interesting crumbs: The mother of most Filipino breads, the dough for monay transforms into different breads, depending on the water content, proofing (rising of the dough) and baking time. A master baker can whip this dough into different forms and degrees of softness–from the hard monay, pinagong, putok, soft and chewy monay, and the soft and fluffy kind you can slice and make as sandwiches.