After 20 years of baking, I still love discovering and baking new breads. This is part of our daily fuel… we test, we try, we bake, we taste… again and again… until the day we reach perfection; therein lies happiness…
The day I met with the delightful Sonia Graupera – travel journalist, adviser, seasoned foodie AND fellow tweeps – She was having lunch in Lung King Heen and we’ve got straight away immersed in food talk. And to the question “what is your favorite thing to do at work?” My answer was baking bread. She then asked me if I knew Ensaimada, native bread from beautiful Majorca. I have to admit, I felt a little embarrassed not knowing about it at all, but again, was so happy to learn about new bread!
Sonia described them so well that I wanted to step out of work and buy some… that would be possible only if there were any bakeries in Hong Kong baking Ensaimadas; but as far as I know, there aren’t any. Thus, the only choice I had was to make them myself; I took Sonia’s question as a new baking challenge!
Our first try was a dough based on poolish with a massive addition of pork fat (lard) directly in the dough. The result was ok, but it was not looking like the photos we saw on the internet; it seemed to be more of a shortcut recipe. A while later Sonia and myself both found the same website showing the making of Ensaimada.
It’s on Las recetas de Sara that we’ve found the right directions to great Ensaimadas.
The most challenging part of the recipe was to translate it from Spanish, even with Google translate, it wasn’t all easy with sentences coming up as “…that summer we are having more weirdo…” ?!?. I took Spanish at school and I now really regret not having paid more attention to the courses! Well… anyway, I somehow figured it out and made up what I didn’t know.
Because different countries have different ingredients, I had to adapt the recipe slightly to match Hong Kong’s flour, lard and other little touches.
I was also happy to learn that Ensaimadas are popular in the Philippines, yet they seemed to be slightly different than its cousins from Spain. The results obtained following Sara’s recipe was indeed very similar to the photos posted on her blog, yet different from the photos of ensaimadas Sonia sent me (see below). In all fairness I believe it’s only a matter of how they are shaped before proofing.
- 30 ml of water
- 30 gm of fresh yeast
- 45 gm of T45 flour
- 1530 gm of T45 flour
- 330 gm vanilla sugar (that’s me tweaking the recipe!)
- 530 ml water
- 45 gm fresh yeast
- 9 pcs eggs
- 100 ml olive oil
And a handful of lard to do the layering, plenty of icing sugar for dusting and your best creme patissiere for stuffing…
For the fermented dough:
- Mix the flour, yeast and water to form a ball.
- Drop it in a bowl full of room temperature water and wait until the dough floats to the surface.
- Mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and knead the dough until nice and extensible.
- Take out the fermented dough from the water bath (it should have been about 20 minutes of fermentation in water) and add it to the main dough.
- Add the olive oil and knead a further 3 to 4 minutes; your dough needs to look very soft and elastic.
- Let the dough rest in an oiled plastic container for half an hour.
- Weigh and form little balls of dough of about 60 grams and let is rest for 15 minutes.
- Oil your working table and dough and roll it as thin as possible. If the dough breaks a little, it’s ok.
- Spread the lard gently with your hands all over the dough into a very very thin layer.
- Fold the dough into a roll and form the snail shape.
- Place the ensaimadas on a tray with baking paper and allow proofing for about 1,5 hours.
- Bake with steam for about 20 minutes at 180C.
- Once baked, allow cooling a little, cut in half and stuff with vanilla creme patissiere.
- Finally, dust with icing sugar and enjoy!!
Traditionally, ensaimadas are stuffed with angel hairs, made from pumpkin, but they also come in several other combinations, or even in an all chocolate version!
An interesting point about the recipe is that in most of all the recipes I have come across, there is no salt. It is a rare occurrence in bread recipe, but I guess it’s part of the tradition.
Ensaimadas are excellent for breakfast or tea time – definitely some serious contender to croissants! :)
Sonia sent me a few photos of different varieties of ensaimadas from Barcelona – they do look delicious!