July 29, 2009

Majorcan (or Mallorcan) Ensaimada (A Sweet Bread)

Majorca (or Mallorca as the island prefers to call itself) is the largest island in Spain. It is a popular holiday destination for many because of its Mediterranean weather, beautiful locales and relaxed pace of life. The one other thing that Majorca is famous for is its "Ensaimada".

The ensaimada, a typical artisan dessert dating back to the 17th century, is made from flour, sourdough, eggs, sugar, water and lard. The dough is rolled up into a long cylinder which is then wound up into a snail-like shape with two or more clockwise turns. The name "ensaimada" comes from the Catalan word "saim" for pork lard.
Apparently the lard gives it a distinctive taste and texture. Many people now use butter in place of lard while making ensaimada, even though traditionalists still swear by lard.

In fact, Majorca takes its ensaimada so seriously that they have a regulating council which has laid down very definite parameters regarding measurements of the ingredients used to make ensaimadas. Manufacturers of this sweet bread in Majorca have to maintain these standards, for approval by the country's regulatory council, in order to label their product "Ensaimada Malloorquina/ Ensaimada de Mallorca".

Ensaimadas come in many varieties these days, depending on what they are filled with. Two very popular ensaimadas are the "Llisa" or plain ones with no filling, and the "Cabell d’├ángel" or angel's hair which is filled with candied stringy orange strands which found inside pumpkins.

Outside Majorca, another type of ensaimada (spelt ensaymada here) is made in the Phillipines, once a Spanish colony. Here, I understand ensaymadas are made as single serve portions. Made with butter, these ensaymadas are more like brioche and usually topped with sugar and a cheese called "queso de bola".

I made my Majorcan ensaimada according to this recipe at Spain Recipes. This recipe uses butter (not lard) and yeast instead of the traditional sourdough.
I halved the recipe (which is given below) and reduced the butter a bit, otherwise followed that recipe. This bread does take some time to make, but a large part of the time is taken for the dough to rise. Rolling out the dough very thin takes a bit of effort but it's not impossible to do and the bread is well worth the effort.


2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup milk, warmed

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg

1 tbsp olive oil

all-purpose flour, for dusting

50 gm butter, softened,

          and some for brushing after baking

powdered sugar, for dusting

"mise en place"


Dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk and set aside.
Combine the sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour and warm milk mixture. Blend thoroughly. Add the eggs and olive oil, mix well, and knead until soft and well-blended. The dough should be smooth and very elastic.
All this can also be done in the food processor, as I did. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in volume.

Knead the dough again, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin as possible over a floured surface. The thinner the dough is rolled out, the more layers the finished ensaimada would have, and this makes for a bread with more layers. Dust lightly with flour, if necessary, to prevent it from sticking.

It would be a good thing if one can manage to roll out the dough into a rough rectangular shape. Don't worry about an exact shape, as once the dough is rolled up, it doesn't matter.
Brush the entire surface of the dough with softened butter. This bread is supposed to be buttery so go ahead and use the butter stated in the original recipe. It makes all the difference.
I wanted to reduce the butter a bit further. So I mixed 25gm soft butter with 2 to 3 tbsp olive oil and used that on the rolled out dough.
Start rolling the dough from the longer side, bit by bit, from one side to the other (as if you were rolling up a poster). When the dough has been rolled up, allow it to rest for 1 hour.

If you would rather make this bread as smaller single serve portions, then divide the dough into four equal portions. Then follow the same method for rolling and shaping the bread, as mentioned above. Remember to reduce the baking time proportionately. I would suggest about 20 to 25 minutes should be alright, but please keep an eye on the bread after about 15 minutes.

After the dough has risen, coil it loosely leaving a little space between the coils, so that it resembles a snail shell. Once the dough rises and expands, the spaces will be filled up.
Transfer the coil to a greased baking sheet. Cover with an extremely large inverted bowl or bucket, large enough to ensure that the dough will not stick to the bowl's surface when it rises. I used a kitchen towel to cover my dough coil, and the dough didn't stick to it.
Allow the dough to rise for several hours (I let my dough rise for about 6 hours, though most recipes seem to recommend 12 hours!).
You can find detailed instructions for rolling and shaping the ensaimada here.

Bake the dough coil at 190C for around 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. This bread will brown quite a bit as it is a sweet bread. If you feel it is browning too much, cover the top with aluminium foil halfway through baking.
Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Allow to cool. Cut the ensaimada into slices (like you would a round cake) and serve with hot chocolate, as traditionally done, or with coffee or tea. This recipe serves 4.
The ensaimada can be served warm or at room temperature and apparently keeps for up to 8 days. Mine lasted 3 days.

This delicious, very soft and buttery ensaimada is my contribution to Zorra's Bread Baking Day whose 22nd edition is being hosted by Stefanie at Hefe und mehr. This sweet bread is also being YeastSpotted!
This month's theme at the food photography event Click is Bi-colour. I'm sending in the "Mise en place" as my entry, as this picture features white and yellow.


Divya Kudua said...

Majorca,Mallorca,Ensaimada..all sound Greek..er..Spanish to me.But the bread looks heavenly..and very pretty too:)

Nags said...

beautiful pics and an even more beautiful recipe :) ur breads rock!

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

The bread looks WOW! look at those spirals!! :) Good Job!

And the click pic... A big WOW!! that is really a classy click A! :)

Parita said...

Nice click, bread looks yummy!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

The names are like Greek to me!! But the bread looks great, the spirals seem perfect!! And LOVVEE your entry for CLICK, an amazing picture!!

Mishmash ! said...

Took some time to read the title :P

your mise en place pic has got some magazine quality :)

Pari said...

I am quite unfamiliar with all the spanish names you have mentioned but love the bake. It has an eye appeal which will make me try it. Thanks for sharing.

bee said...

love the CLICK entry!!!

Pavithra said...

I always adore ur bread baking skills..i have bookmarked it dear

Soma said...

Aparna.. the Click picture is so Beautiful... it stole my heart & it is going to remain with me for ever!

A_and_N said...

Love the pictures. And when Manisha said you were grounded, I thought to myself : that's just the perfect word for you! :) Never thought of a word per se, but you fit in!

I'mgoing to try this for sure.

lata raja said...

Hi Aparna, Please accept the award I would love to pass on to you. Kindly pick that up from my blog post.

Elra said...

I've been meaning to make Ensaimada for a long time, but discourage by the amount of lard it uses, and having a hard time to find the recipe for squash jam. Yours look really great and delicious!

Helene said...

I learn something new today, I've never heard of that bread. Looks delicious.

KALVA said...

looks great.. like the spirals

Simran said...

Sounds great!

farida said...

I would absolutely love to try this recipe one day. The bread looks soo good.

Curry Leaf said...

Wow,can't take my eyes off the perfect bread.No words to describe it.Looks great and I too would like to try this one day.

Manggy said...

I've nver had Mallorcan ensaimada, but it looks great. I have the Pinoy version a lot-- it is such a treat! :)

Happy cook said...

Hi aparna
I am still on summer break, but seeing that pic for the click I had to coment, that is one beautiful picture you have clicked.
Love that pic.

rekhas kitchen said...

OMG look at that bread great job Aparna looks awesome.....

Kitchen Flavours said...

That's an awesome bread...... very gorgeous....love those layers...layers...layers....

Mihl said...

Thank you for this recipe! I was shocked when I found out about the lard as I had eaten ensaimadas a couple of times when I was a vegetarian. I wanted to make my own for ages. Your recipe looks fantastic ans seems easy to veganize.

Prathibha said...

oh thats a super n yummy bread..looks very nice..

Madam Chow said...

So interesting! I lived in Hawaii for many years, and it has a large Filipino population. The ensaimadas they make ARE single servings, and they are coated in butter and sprinkled with sugar. Mmmmm!

Mimi said...

Your bread is pretty and looks very tempting

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Gorgeous, and thanks for the background info on ensaimadas!

Aparna said...

Appreciate all your kind words very much, especially about my Click entry. I was kinda happy with this picture, myself. :)

All of you who thought this was Greek/ Spanish [;)], if you are into making bread, please try this. Its definitely worth the effort.

N, thanks for that. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what you and manisha mean! :)

Lata, thank you for the award.

Elra, I am assuming you mean "cabell d'angel" when you say squash jam. Zorra has a good recipe for it, on her blog.

Mark & Madam Chow, I shall be trying out the Pinoy version too.

HC, this comment means a lot to me. Appreciate it. :) Have a great vacation.

Mihl, that happens sometimes. I never knew marshmallows had gelatin the first (and only) time I had them!

Stefanie said...

It looks great! The recipe is already added to my to do list!

Lisa said...

Aparna - I LOVE ensymadas, and used to stop at this Filipino bakery on my way home from work and pick up a bag of the large ones topped with sugar and cheese! Your take on it is mouth watering, and much prettier than any I ever bought (love the swirl from the butter and olive oil)! Glad I have a good recipe for it now :)

Aparna said...

Thanks, Lisa. Never having even seen an ensaimada till I made this one, I appreciate your comment. :)