Pan de leche is a Filipino sweet bread that has many regional variations.
As far as I know, any yeasted bread baked with milk and sugar can be labeled pan de leche, but I have a very specific idea of what it is supposed to be like. It will be dense and feel heavy for its size. The crumb will be dry but fluffy. The glazed soft crust will have the slightest hint of chewiness.
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1 ounce active yeast
1/2 pound melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1.) Preheat oven to 375*F.
2.) In a bowl, mix all ingredients until evenly coordinated. Place in a large greased bowl, cover with a towel and set aside in a warm place. Allow to double in size, about 30-40 minutes. This forms the sponge.
3.) Knead it for about 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should feel smooth and elastic. Add more flour or milk to achieve this consistency.
4.) Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet. Using a rolling pin, shape and flatten the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick. Allow to rise again for 30-40 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the egg wash.
5.) Just before baking, score the dough lightly with a knife to make a checkerboard pattern of rectangles 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Bake at 375ºF/190ºC for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
6.)Allow to cool. Cut in half to make 2 approximately 1-pound loaves.