When it comes to classic recipes, my first instinct is to always open my dog eared, faded, vintage Nora Daza cook book before doing anything else. I've been wanting to make ensaimada for ages now so I knew Ms. Daza would teach me how to make it. I have been poring through a number of recipes and was a bit put off by the number of steps and the size of the recipe. I've found Ms. Daza's recipe simple and straightforward and the size of the recipe very reasonable.
Ensaimada, or more correctly, ensaimada de Mallorca, is a a fluffy buttery yeast bun sprinkled with cheese and sugar. It is one of the delightful delicacies we Filipinos have inherited from Spain. The Spanish ensaimada is a bit different probably because the ours has evolved through time to cater to our native taste preference. I find the Spanish ensaimada more like a pastry because they press it on hot plates, caramelizing the sugar topping, crisping and flattening the bun at the same time. The Filipino ensaimada is fluffier and sweeter and is topped with butter, cheese and sugar. More modern versions have different toppings or fillings.
Patience and time are what you need to make perfect ensaimadas. The egg yolks are added to the dough in installments after which it is allowed to rise. It may sound labour intensive and I thought the same myself. Plan something else to do while waiting. Your efforts will be rewarded immensely.
Ingredients A for the yeast sponge:
2 tsps. of yeast
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. lukewarm water
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 c. plain flour
Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir to dissolve. Add the rest of the ingredients then mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place until frothy and doubled in volume.
Ingredients B for the yeast dough:
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. plain flour
You can use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or a strong arm with a wooden spoon attachment for this next step. Add the beaten egg yolks and sugar to the yeast sponge and mix together before adding the flour and mixing again. This will form a sticky dough and there is no point in trying to knead it at this stage. Form into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place until double in bulk.
Ingredients C for the yeast dough:
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3/4 c. softened butter
1/4 c. sugar
2 c. plain flour
Cream the softened butter and sugar together. Beat the egg and egg yolks together. Slowly add to the creamed mixture while mixing. Add the flour and stir until well mixed. Add the previously risen yeast dough and stir together. You can use a mixer for this. When they are combined transfer to a floured surface for kneading or continue to knead with your machine. I can't resist the feel of dough so I always finish by kneading by hand. You should end end up with smooth, satiny and soft (not sticky) dough. Roll into a ball and transfer to an oiled mixing bowl. Roll the ball in the oil to coat all over then cover with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place until double in bulk.
Ingredients for the filling and topping:
about 1/2 c of butter
2 c. of grated mature cheddar or edam cheese
macapuno in syrup
haleya (ube/purple yam jam)
Divide the dough into quarters so that it is easier to handle. Roll each piece into a log and divide into 6 pieces (about 50 gms. per piece). Roll each piece flat, spread with butter and sprinkle about a tablespoon of grated cheese. Make the edges meet and pinch to seal. Form a coil, tuck the end under the coil and put the bun on a brioche mould or muffin pan.
Arrange on a baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter. Leave to rise until double in bulk.
Bake in a pre-heated 350° F/180° C oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Brush with butter. Sprinkle with cheese and sugar. Macapuno in syrup or haleya (purle yam jam) may be used as topping instead of butter and cheese.
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