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’àngel” 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.