pan de leche

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Milk Buns. Milk bread is the literal translation. Not that there is a lot of milk in it; there is only 1/2 cup. But it is soft and white and reminiscent of milk. panleche6

I like how soft and fluffy these are. You can probably make this without the vital wheat gluten, but it may get harder and staler faster. Vital wheat gluten is basically wheat flour with most of the starch taken out, so it’s concentrated protein that makes the bread chewier and fluffier. It kind of feels like cheating, but this bread would get stale much more quickly if I didn’t add this. The difference between vital wheat gluten and a dough enhancer or improver is that a dough enhancer has vital wheat gluten among other additives and chemicals. Ascorbic acid is just vitamin C.

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These would be great for sliders, whether for pork or hamburger sliders. I guess I made sandwiches with them back when I was growing up, but we never called them sliders. I grew up maoing down on these, usually after school, either with cheese, or butter, with a slice of fried spam and egg, or just by itself. Damn tasty little things!

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These always make me think of my childhood. And watching ’70s and ’80s sitcoms after school, for some reason. My mom was so good to always have these on hand for us. Store bought, of course, but still very good.

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pan de leche (based on Annie’s Chamorro Kitchen here)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon white, granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup milk (whole, low-fat or skim, it’s your choice)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (2 ounces, or half a 4-ounce stick)
1/3 cup white, granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (start out with 3 cups; you might not use it all)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1/2 stick melted butter (for brushing the rolls before and after baking)

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method:

Warm up the pineapple juice slightly to 110 degrees F. This should feel lukewarm, like a comfortable warm bath. Add tablespoon sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast to this mixture and let bloom for about 10 minutes. This should be frothy and bubbly.

Heat milk slightly and melt butter, either on stove top or microwave. Transfer to bowl and let cool if needed to lukewarm. Add the 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, and egg, and beat or whisk slightly.

In bowl of mixer, add the flour and salt, and vital wheat gluten, (if using), and whisk to mix. Salt is a natural enemy of the yeast; it slows the growth and can kill yeast, so you don’t want it to be concentrated and the salt needs to be dispersed thoroughly in the flour.

Add milk/egg mixture and pineapple juice/yeast mixture and using the dough hook on medium speed, let mixer run for about 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic, and also slightly sticky/tacky. Place in a clean, greased bowl and turn to coat the dough with some of the oil. Cover in plastic wrap or a towel and leave in a warm place without a draft until doubled in size, about an hour, depending on how warm the place is.

When dough has doubled in size, punch it down by placing your fist in the center of the ball of dough. This disperses any excess air and helps redistribute the yeast and ingredients.

At this point, you can divide dough into 24 equal pieces of dough. The easiest way to do this is to use a scale and divide the total dough weight by 24; that will be the weight for each individual roll. Shape each piece into a sphere, tucking into the bottoms, pinching the bottom closed, with smooth, round tops.

Butter a 13 X 9 X 2 rectangular pan and place rolls in four rows of six. Cover with plastic or a towel and let sit until almost doubled again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rolls are ready when almost doubled in size, and if you press a roll gently with your finger, it creates an indentation that only slowly goes back to it’s shape. if it bounces back too quickly, the dough still needs to expand. This second sitting of the dough did not take as long as the first sitting for its initial expansion.

Brush tops of rolls gently with melted butter both before and after baking. Bake in center rack for about 15 minutes until golden brown on top. Enjoy!

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5 thoughts on “pan de leche

    • So nice to hear from you!! I like your blog a lot. Brings back memories of my childhood growing up in 70’s and 80’s in Guam. Thanks for having a good reliable source online for Chamorro food! And Happy Easter!

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  1. Sounds delicious except for juice. Not fond of sweet rolls with a meal. What’s your thought of subbing perhaps buttermilk or just milk? I’m a roll freak and my girl uses them for sandwiches in her school lunch. Thanks!

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    • Hi Tracee!
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think this is definitely not set in stone. I’ve made yeast dough before where I just used water with sugar as the liquid to help the activate the yeast. I imagine milk plus a little sugar would be perfectly fine. The juice isn’t enough to really be detected, imo. In fact, I went to a health food store for the ingredients, (just because it was the closest store), and since they only had a large container of pineapple juice, which I didn’t want to buy, I bought a smaller jar of pineapple/coconut “juice” and used that instead. Couldn’t detect that either. In fact, I thought of using milk, since pan de leche translates to you know what. I hope that helps!

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