Ensaymada is a Filipino pastry and dessert that is both sweet and savory. Its technical definition is “a coiled laden bread with fat that can either be lard, oil, butter, margarine or a combination of all these”. The bread is derived from the root word saim, which is high-quality lard used to make the pastry ensaimada Mallorquina.
There are different ways of making ensaymada. The original or traditional recipe calls for the ingredients to be bread flour, water, eggs and a starter dough. Cheese is a favorite savory topping that balances with the sweetness of sugar. Egg yolks give the ensaymada its rich flavor and its yellow signature hue. For the bread to be soft and fluffy, making sure that the dough has properly risen is essential to achieve the coil in the middle. Both recipes we’re presenting will show you how to achieve that.
How to Make Traditional Ensaymada
Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes (dough), 2-3 hours (per rise), 5-10 (buttercream)
Freezing Time: 20-25 minutes
Optional: 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Step 1: Activate the yeast by doing the following: In a small bowl, add water, 1 tsp of sugar and 1 package of instant yeast. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes until bubbles form or when the yeast rises. Set aside.
Step 2: In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of shortening, 1/2 cup and 2 tbsps of sugar with 1/4 tsp salt. Use a spatula to mix all the ingredients.
Step 3: Add half of the flour to the mixture together with the activated yeast. Mix for 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 4: Add the rest of the flour and 3 egg yolks. Mix well until the dough becomes yellow.
Tip: Add more flour (until 1/2 cup) if you still find it runny. Mix for another 3 minutes.
Step 5: Cover the dough with cling wrap and store it in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours to rise.
Step 6: While waiting, grease 16 ramekins or tart moulds with 1/4 softened butter to prevent the ensaymadas from sticking.
Step 7: Take the dough out of the bowl and put it on a flat surface with additional flour so as not to stick.
Step 8: Divide the dough into two and with the half dough, cut it into 8 pieces.
Step 9: With a rolling pin, shape the dough with the measurements 8 x 4 inches and brush the top with softened butter. To achieve the ensaymada’s swirl shape, roll the rectangle dough sideways until you achieve a thin log. Bring the end of the dough to the center and wrap it into a coil. You can leave the dough as is or put it in molds to protect its shape.
Step 10: Cover the dough with a cloth towel and leave the dough to rest for 30 to 60 minutes in a warm place until it is double in size.
Step 11: While waiting, preheat oven at 300℉/150℃ and when the ensaymadas are fully puffed, bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. After taking them out of the oven, let them cool for 5 to 6 minutes before removing them out of the mold. Brush the ensaymada tops with melted butter.
Step 12: Prepare the topping by mixing soften butter and powdered sugar for 2 minutes until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy. With a spatula, put some buttercream on the top of the ensaymada and immediately after, the cheese, just enough to cover the bread. Repeat on all ensaymadas. Makes for 16 servings.
How to Make Ube Ensaymada
Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes (dough), 45 minutes (per rise), 5 -10 minutes (filling and buttercream)
Baking Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Yeast Mixture Ingredients
Dough (first rise) Ingredients
Dough (second rise) Ingredients
Optional: 2-3 drops of purple food coloring
Buttercream and Topping Ingredients
1 tsp of ube flavoring
1/2 tbsp of milk
To Make the Dough
Step 1: Combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water, 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 packet (or 7 to 8g) of yeast in a mixing bowl. Wait for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble.
Step 2: Once this happens, add 1 cup of plain flour. Cover the dough with cling wrap or with a piece of cloth and let it rest for 60 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
Step 3: After an hour, remove the cling wrap or cloth and add 4 egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup of plain flour to the yeast mixture. Mix well with a spatula and as it becomes more sticky, use your hands to incorporate the egg yolks and until the dough becomes yellow. Again, wrap the bowl in plastic wrap or with a piece of cloth and set aside in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Step 4: After the second rise, add 1/4 cup of sugar and 4 egg yolks and mix. While mixing, add 1/2 cup room temperature butter in pieces. Add the salt.
Step 5: Continue mixing the dough and add the flour in two batches. Add 1 cup of flour first and then mix thoroughly. When it is fully incorporated, add the rest of the flour (1/2 cup).
Tip: If the dough is still sticky to work with, add more flour, a tbsp at a time.
Step 6: Add 2 more tbsps of flour and mix the dough for 8 minutes until the dough does not stick to your hands.
Step 7: Put some oil at the bottom of a big bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or piece of cloth and let it rest for 45 minutes until the dough doubles in size.
To Make the Filling and Baking
Step 8: Prepare the filling by combining 115g of dehydrated ube, 500 ml of coconut milk or cream, 375 ml evaporated milk and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan. Mix them well on low-medium heat.
Step 9: Add 1 tsp of the ube flavoring and 2 to 3 drops of purple food coloring. Mix until all liquid evaporates and ube mixture thickens and then turn off the heat. Keep stirring to prevent ube from burning. Transfer the ube mixture to a bowl to cool.
Step 10: After the second rise, remove the dough. Form the dough into a log and cut into pieces of 37 g each. Roll each piece into a ball.
Step 11: For each ball of dough, roll it lengthwise and with a spatula, spread a tsp of the ube mixture inside the dough. Pull the sides of the dough together and roll it to form a long string. Take the two ends of the dough and bring it to the center.
Tip: The ube filling should be, at the most, 1 tsp because more filling would risk the dough not baking well.
Step 12: Grease your molds with butter so the ensaymadas will come out easily. Put your rolled ensaymada dough inside the molds. Let the buns rest for 45 minutes to double in size.
Step 13: Preheat oven at 180℃/356℉.
To Make Buttercream and Finishing Touches
Step 14: In a bowl, mix 1 cup of room temperature butter with a spatula until it smoothens.
Step 15: Add 2 cups of icing sugar, mixing in between. You may also add ½ tbsp of milk to add consistency to the icing. After mixing everything until it is smooth, set aside.
Step 16: Whisk the beaten egg and with a brush, put the egg on the ensaymada tops.
Step 17: Bake at 180℃/356℉ for 12 to 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, let it cool.
Step 18: Put about 1 tsp of ube icing on top of the ensaymada followed by a sprinkle of cheese. Makes 30 servings.
A good ensaymada relies on the quality of the dough and the right amount of butter that is mixed into it. In both recipes, extra time is taken to make sure that the dough is well-risen because this process determines the soft center with air pockets and the evenly baked browning of the top. With one bite, it does not take wondering why this is one of the Philippines’ top desserts.