My personal search for a more old-fashioned style ensaimada as opposed to the lighter, cakey, sweet mall versions topped with sanded cheese is a long-running one. I have written about ensaimadas for at least 3-4 years and I am always thrilled to find more artisanal style versions for sale, more often than not, home-cooked with an abundance of ingredients of the finest quality and baked by a kindred soul… someone who bakes to please themselves or close family and friends. In the past month alone, I have received and tasted two such ensaimadas and I am really encouraged by this apparent “resurgence” of interest in the “older” version of the delicacy. First off, the ensaimadas of Des Rodriguez-Torres. I wrote about ensaimadas three years ago, and at the time, could NOT identify the source of a very good ensaimada that our landlord used to send us for Christmas. It arrived wrapped in wax paper in a specific way and placed in a nondescript white box. I think now it was sourced from the the kitchens of Des or her near relatives…
A little more bready than cakey, Des’ ensaimadas have a light topping of butter and grated queso de bola. It is rich but not excessively so, and sweet but not overly sweet. This is similar in style to the Medina ensaimada with ONE HUGE difference… I don’t think this one has queso de bola worked into the dough, so it isn’t as salty and oily as the Medina one. You can get these ensaimadas at “Pamangan” the stall of Des at the Saturday Salcedo market where she features not only this family recipe, but other Capampangan Family Recipes & More. Now I have two sources of an older style ensaimada at Salcedo market (Marc’s and Des’) in case I am too lazy to make my own. Thank you Des for making this available for all to enjoy! Pamangan/Des Rodriguez-Torres 0917-5399861 or email@example.com
A week later, I was the recipient of this box of incredible goodies, three types of ensaimadas, from Artisan Chocolatier, while on a business trip to Cebu. I don’t think he sells these commercially, but he texted me to say he was trying out an old family recipe so of course I agreed to taste test. The first thing that struck me about these ensaimadas was the size and shape of the large central piece in the photos. This is a coiled piece, baked flat on a sheet pan, and this represents a style more reminiscent of the 1950’s and 1960’s ensaimadas in Cebu and elsewhere in the archipelago. Actually, it is closer to the shape of a classic Mallorcan ensaimada as well. Artisan’s version is notably more Cebuano in the sense that it is less rich, more breadlike and doesn’t have much “toppings” on it in the sense of cheese or butter or sugar. The Visayan aesthetic of “less is more” clearly shines through in a nice way with this version. Not sure who moved the ensaimada to the “truly over-the-top coated in cheese, butter and sugar version”, but these ones were truer to a less flashy era… These would be brilliant with some good butter and homemade jam.
Artisan also sent smaller bun like versions and one that I believe had chocolate worked into the dough that was interesting as well. A huge thank you to Artisan for letting me taste these, and I hope that more folks will get curious and seek out the older fashioned ensaimadas, if only to understand the ancestors or predecessors to the versions more commonly available today… Suki, Cebu Veterans Drive, Nivel Hills, Apas (drive towards and past Marco Polo Hotel from Lahug, Suki is about 300-400 meters beyond the hotel).