This senorita bread recipe was inspired by the Starbread Bakery's famously warm and sweet Spanish bread. Senorita bread (aka Filipino Spanish bread) is a soft pastry roll with a sweet, crunchy filling. My recipe is (naturally) eggless and dairy free, but no less decadent and delicious.
I like to eat these sweet little rolls for breakfast. They're almost a cinnamon roll and not quite a doughnut. Basically, they're the perfect grab and go vegan breakfast! I guarantee if you make a batch of these, they won't be around for long!
What Is Señorita Bread?
Senorita bread is a Filipino bread roll made from enriched pastry. Traditionally they have a sweet buttery filling and are sprinkled with crunchy breadcrumbs.
In the Philippines these pastries are referred to as "Spanish bread". Some sources say that this is because Filipinos inherited their bread making techniques from Spanish kitchens. Whatever you call them, these sweet treats have gained icon status around the world thanks to a humble bakery called Starbread Bakery.
Senorita bread made it's debut in the USA when Starbread Bakery opened it's first tiny bakery in Vallejo California. Owners Aunt Nellie and Uncle Romie served up steaming trays of piping hot Spanish bread to loyal customers. Soon, word spread and Starbread Bakery had a loyal enough following to expand to Sacramento and Daly City. Today they have five locations across California, but word of their famous Senorita Bread has spread across the world.
I happen to live in London, so alas...there's no bakeries serving up Senorita bread near me, so I decided to make my own vegan version. Let's get baking!
- Almond Milk: I used almond milk in this recipe, but any unsweetened plant-based milk you have on hand will do. Soy milk and oat milk both work.
- Caster Sugar: Caster sugar is the ideal choice for baking. Its fine texture allows it to dissolve more readily than granulated sugar. Caster sugar keeps your baked goods from having a gritty texture. However, granulated sugar will work if that's what you have on hand. Please check to make sure that any sugar you use is not processed using bone char (making it not suitable for vegans.)
- Yeast: Always check to make sure that your yeast hasn't expired before using it. Yeast that's past its expiration date will yield flat and dense rolls.
- Bread Flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all purpose flour, which tends to activate gluten formation. If you want to substitute all purpose flour, you might find that your dough is a bit stickier. Simply add a few more tablespoons of flour.
- Salt: Salt is necessary in bread making, as it reins in the yeast. Without it, the yeast goes crazy eating up the sugar. Don't you love science?:)
- Vegan Butter: Vegan butter keeps your pastry moist and adds a rich flavor to the dough. It's also what we'll be using to make a rich, buttery filling.
- Brown Sugar: Both light and dark will work. Obviously the color of your filling will be darker if you use dark brown sugar.
- Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are part of what makes senorita bread so special. They add a unique crunchy texture that separates these pastries from cinnamon rolls.
- Heat your almond milk to between 105-115 degrees F. You can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave. If you heat your milk in the microwave, only heat it in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval. If you don't have a thermometer, use the finger testing method - if it feels warm to the touch, you're good to go. Too hot, and your yeast will die.
- Add your flour, sugar and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine it evenly. I always recommend using scales for baking. Cups are far too inaccurate.
- Add the melted vegan butter and almond milk / yeast mixture to the bowl. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer or hand-held mixer, mix the dough for 5 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the hook. Transfer your dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times to form a ball.
- Grease a large mixing bowl with vegan butter or vegetable oil and transfer your dough to the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth, and put it in a warm place to rise for 60-90 minutes. The dough should double in size. If it hasn't doubled, let it rise for another hour.
- While your dough is rising prepare your filling. Melt the vegan butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add in the brown sugar and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to simmer gently, until all the sugar is dissolved. Now add your almond milk and flour and simmer for another minute until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in your breadcrumbs and set the filling aside to cool. It will get thicker as it cools.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 325° F (165° C).
- Punch your dough down and divide it into two balls. Roll each ball into a long log shape, and cut each log into eight pieces. You will end up with 16 pieces of dough. Roll each piece into a ball and place them on your baking tray. Cover with a damp towel, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a 3x5 inch rectangle. Add a teaspoon of the filling, leaving the borders clear of filling. Starting from the shortest edge of the rectangle facing you, roll the dough up tightly, pulling the dough gently towards you with your fingers as you roll it up. Seal the bottom seam so that the filling doesn't leak out.
- Put your breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Brush each of your rolls with vegan butter, and roll them in the breadcrumbs. Transfer your senorita bread rolls to the prepared baking sheet, placing them seam side down. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until your rolls are golden brown.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You can store it covered on the counter for 1-3 days, or in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Absolutely! Let the bread rolls cool completely and freeze them in a reusable freezer bag for up to three months. Defrost by letting them thaw in the fridge. Alternatively you can reheat them in the microwave.
I haven't tried it, but I think it would work if you replace the bread flour with your preferred gluten free blend in a 1:1 ratio. You will also need to use gluten free breadcrumbs, or omit them entirely.
There are 215 calories per roll if you follow the recipe exactly. For few calories, I recommend reducing the sugar and in the filling.
Craving More Vegan Dessert Recipes?
Senorita Bread Recipe (Filipino Spanish Bread)
Senorita Bread Dough
- 1 cup almond milk warmed to 105°-115° F
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 package (¼ ounce) or 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegan butter melted
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons almond milk
- 2 teaspoons flour
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup vegan butter *for brushing the senorita bread
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- In a small bowl, combine the warm almond milk, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes or until foamy. *see note 1.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the melted vegan butter and the almond milk yeast mixture. Using a dough hook on a stand or hand-held mixer, mix for 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic but moist and begins to pull away from the hook. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times to form a ball. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand on a clean surface dusted with flour. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. If it's too sticky add a bit more flour.
- Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for one hour, or until double in size. * see note 2.
- While the dough is rising, begin to prepare your filling. In a saucepan, melt vegan butter over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, and allow the mixture to simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add almond milk and flour and stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the breadcrumbs, stir to combine. Set aside to cool. The filling will thicken as it cools.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat oven to 325° F (165° C).
- Punch the dough down and divide it into two balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a log and cut each log into eight equal pieces. You should have 16 dough balls. Transfer them them to the prepared baking tray, cover it with a damp cloth, and allow the dough balls to rest for 15 minutes.
- Roll each dough ball into a 3x5 inch rectangle. Add a teaspoon of the filling, leaving the borders clear of filling. Starting from the shortest edge of the rectangle facing you, roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam so that the filling doesn't leak out.
- Put breadcrumbs for the outer coating in a shallow bowl.
- Brush the outside of the prepared rolls with melted butter and roll each one in the breadcrumbs. Place seam side down on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
- Yeast dies at 138 degrees and above, so it's important that your almond milk is the correct temperature. If you have a thermometer, the correct temp should be between 105-110 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, you can use the finger test. Our bodies are 98 degrees, so the water should feel slightly warm to the touch, but not hot. Don't forget to add your sugar in. Never add salt in at this stage, as it will kill your yeast.
- The best place to let your bread rise is in a warm kitchen. However, this isn't always possible. If your kitchen is too cold , heat your oven to 200 degrees F (93 C). Turn the oven off and put the dough in a heatproof bowl covered with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Put the bowl in the oven for an hour. Your dough should be doubled in size within that time, but if it's not, give it another half hour.