Filipinos love to give unusual names to things, food, and even people. There is a fried fish dish wrapped in banana leaves then deep fried called Pinaputok na Plapla (tilapia) and sweet buns called simply Putok. Putok is the Tagalog word for explosion/firecracker and crack/fissure. I looked online for the recipe and found it in Manang's blog. The putok refers to the star cut on top of the bun and I started to wonder where it originated because I never heard of this bread before. It turns out it is a variation of a bun called Pinagong, which means shaped like a pagong (turtle). It is a bun that comes exclusively from Sariaya, Quezon province and I remember eating those buns as a kid when we visited my maternal grandparents. I still remember it being sweet and dense and milky and had a hard crunchy shell just like another bun called Monay. Sariaya and other nearby cities and towns sell an abundance of various breads. At the time they even sold buns named after popular movie celebrities obviously catering to their fan base. The buns were shaped exactly the same and made from the same dough but they were given different names and sure enough fans bought their favorite's namesakes. I'm not kidding.
The funny thing is I can remember the flavor, texture, and aroma of the pinagong buns but I couldn't recall the shape. I just snipped the top of the buns with scissors before baking. They were already baking when it suddenly occured to me that they should have about 4 or 5 parallel cuts on top and the lower portion is formed to make a tail of sorts to resemble a turtle. Why a turtle, I have no idea.
I adapted Manang's recipe using powdered milk instead of evaporated, omitted the baking powder and soda, and I also didn't let the dough rise the second time to have the hard dense texture that I remember. The buns were baked as soon as they were shaped. When I took my first bite I was transported back to Sariaya. The crunch of the crust...the sweet yellow milky crumb that doesn't need any butter or jam...the aroma...this is the pinagong of my childhood. Sooo yummy.
I don't know the origin of monay, it's great for cheese ice cream sandwiches
putok with coarse raw sugar
wrong shape of pinagong but has the same flavor and texture
I baked a second batch using concentrated evaporated milk and made a proper pinagong shape although the scores should have been a little more shallow. Well, next time. I didn't like the flavor of evaporated milk. I still prefer fresh whole milk or powdered nonfat milk. Maybe I should get the full-cream milk powder KLIM for a deeper milky taste.
the crumb is dense and tight but surprisingly soft
Monay, Pinagong, and Putok
1¼ cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 egg yolks
4 cups bread flour
½ cup milk powder
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In a standing mixer with the kneading hook attachment, add the ingredients in the order as written. Mix on low until combined. Knead on medium for 5 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic film, and let rest on the kitchen counter for 1 hour.
- Lightly knead the dough and divide: monay and pinagong into 4-ounce portions, putok into 2-ounce pieces. Shape into rounds, flatten slightly, and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. If you want dense hard-shelled buns, make star cuts on top of putok, a deep slash right down the middle of monay, and 4 quarter-inch deep slashes on pinagong rounds. Immediately bake in the preheated oven until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- If a softer bread is desired, let the buns rest for half an hour, covered with plastic film, before baking. I don't recommend letting the buns rise for an hour because they will be too fluffy and won't have the right texture.