What is ensaymada?
Ensaymada is a Filipino pastry that can be served as a snack or dessert. The traditional ensaymada is made with flour, butter, milk, eggs, sugar and cheese. It often has grated cheese or sugar (sometimes both) topping it. Sometimes it’s filled with a sweet filling like ube (purple yam) or macapuno (coconut). The dough is traditionally kneaded by hand, then shaped into a spiral, covered with butter and baked until golden brown.
This delicious treat has been around for centuries and is still a beloved favorite in the Philippines today. Whether enjoyed with coffee or as an afternoon snack, ensaymada’s sweet and salty flavors will always be a hit.
Making ensaymada from scratch may seem intimidating but with this foolproof recipe, you can have fresh batch of ensaymada in no time!
Ensaymada originates from the island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. It was brought to the Philippines by the Spanish centuries ago, but has been altered by Filipinos to become more decadent as the years have gone by. Layering butter, cheese and sugar on top of ensaymada was not a tradition from Spain, but from the Philippines. Filipinos like to use Edam cheese for the topping, which was brought to the country by Dutch sailors in the 17th century.
Ensaymada is a world-influenced food that has become a signature Filipino treat.
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- ½ cup (100g) + 6 ½ teaspoons (25g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup lukewarm milk (around 105°F/40°C)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature + 4 tbsps (½ stick/55g), melted and slightly cooled
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- ½ cup (50g) grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for finishing
- ¼ cup (30g) sharp Cheddar, Microplaned or grated, for finishing
Note: This recipe is from Filipinx by Angela Dimayuga & Ligaya Mishan.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine together the yeast, a half teaspoon of sugar, and three tablespoonfuls (45 ml) of lukewarm water using a spoon. Cover the container with an absorbent kitchen towel for about 10 minutes until it begins to foam – this is confirmation that your active yeast has begun feeding on sugars and generating carbon dioxide.
- Thoroughly combine the milk, egg yolks, ¾ cup (95 g) of flour and ¼ cup (50g) sugar with the yeast mixture until you obtain a smooth texture. Subsequently cover it with a towel once more and let sit for an hour to one-and-a-half hours until it is bubbling vigorously.
- To the already-prepared mixture, blend in salt, the remaining egg yolks (3), ¼ cup (50 g) of sugar and 2 ¼ cups (380 g) of flour. With your stand mixer’s dough hook attachment ready for use, mix on medium low for 6 to 8 minutes until consistent and elastic. Gradually add room-temperature butter one tablespoon at a time while mixing each addition thoroughly before adding more – you’ll know it’s done when the texture is stretchable without any resistance!
- Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm, sheltered spot for two hours until it doubles in size. If you are prepping your dough ahead of time (up to 12 hours before baking), cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Two hours prior to baking take out from the refrigerator, still covered, and allow to reach room temperature so that when you bake later on it has doubled its original size.
- Preheat your oven to a steady 325°F (165°C). Utilize two 6-cup muffin pans and generously coat the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray, followed by placing 4-inch (10 cm) parchment paper squares inside each cup.
- Knock down the dough and break it into 12 equal sections. Lift 1 piece and wrap the remaining pieces in a towel. Roll out this section of dough to create a 14 by 3-inch (37 by 7.5 cm) rectangle, then brush with melted butter, followed by 2 teaspoons of Parmesan cheese for flavour. Utilising a wooden dowel ½ lunch (12 mm) thick, roll up the rectangular slice around itself until it wraps all around the rod – make sure you’re doing so at an angle towards yourself! Carefully slide the dough off the dowel and onto a flat surface. Gently stretch the tube of dough to 8-10 inches in length, forming it into a coil that resembles a snail-shell shape. Place this coil inside one cup from your muffin tin.
- Take the remaining pieces of dough and fill all 12 muffin cups. Subsequently, cover your muffin pans with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 25-35 minutes until it is puffy. To be certain that you are finished rising, do a baker’s poke test by gently pressing on the pan; if it springs back then you know that you’re done!
- Bake these delightful ensaymadas for an approximate 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top and slightly domed. Once you take them out of the oven, brush with the leftover melted butter and sprinkle with a generous amount of sugar, Parmesan cheese, as well as Cheddar cheese.
Serving and Storing Ensaymada
Ensaymada is best served warm, freshly out of the oven. Toppings can range from grated cheese, sugar or both. You can also fill ensaymada with a sweet filling such as ube (purple yam) or macapuno (coconut).
Ensaymada can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few days. If it’s filled with cream cheese or custard, it should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 1-2 days.
It’s best enjoyed warm, so if you have leftovers, simply reheat them in the oven before serving again!
Ensaymada is a classic Filipino pastry that’s sure to please. With this easy-to-follow recipe, you can make your own delicious batch of ensaymada at home. So what are you waiting for? Get baking!