Today, I’m going to share with you one of the best things I’ve learned in baking school: How to make ensaymada [en-say-mah-dah].
I’ve been making all sorts of Filipino bread since the beginning of the class. But it was ensaymada, the Filipino version of brioche, that really captured my heart. I can still remember the first time I made ensaymadas, seeing those wonderful pastries looking so perfect fresh out of the oven. I told myself, “My, my, I am not only cute but I am also a good baker!”
Making ensaymada always excites me. So much so, I can’t help smiling and feeling proud each time I bake one. It feels like an accomplishment knowing that I created something so beautiful and truly close to home. Introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish during colonial times, ensaymada is one of the favorite Filipino meriendas today. Each bakeshop in the Philippines offers their own version of this classic delicacy, with flavors including ube, cheese, potatoes to name a few. That’s how popular ensaymada is in the Philippines. Old-timers remember them as a flat concoction –not the puffed up, muffin-like versions of today.
The traditional ensaymada was merely dusted with granulated sugar just like the Majorcan version. Grated queso de bola was added before World War II (legend has it that Pampanguenos were already using cheese even way before). The combination of salted duck egg and cheese were introduced later on in Malolos, Bulacan.
Personally, I love my ensaymadas brushed with butter or margarine and sprinkled with sugar. I like them fluffy and soft, which is how they should be. The butter should not overpower the tastes of the margarine, sugar and cheese toppings. There should be a harmony of flavors.
Did I mention that ensaymada is a popular pasalubong, a Filipino tradition wherein the traveling relative brings some food or non-food items to loved ones as a homecoming gift of sort?
In my case, it always feels like December whenever I get a box of ensaymadas from the Philippines. When I was young, my aunt used to give us these treats whenever she visits in Christmas. Sweet memories.
Here’s how to bake these little goodies:
Storage: The rolls will not spoil for about two days at room temperature. Refrigerate to make them last for up to five days and simply reheat before
eating if desired. Remember that bread is best eaten fresh.
Dissolve yeast in warm water with a temperature anywhere between 100-110°F (38°C). Proof yeast, add one tablespoon sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. If the mixture doubles in volume then the yeast is active. It is very important to make sure that the yeast is active. Water that is too hot kills the yeast so make sure that the water temperature is around 100-110°F (38°C). Remember also to be patient. Let the bread rise and you will be rewarded. Trust me.