Are you kidding me??? Thatâ€™s it??? THAT IS AN ORIGINAL MALLORCAN ENSAIMADA?!? This was not only my initial reaction to the ensaimadas we found in Spain but my lingering personal opinion after tasting a few of them. I have rarely, if ever, disparaged an â€œoriginalâ€, and I am perhaps stepping out of bounds by doing so, but I was greatly disappointed with the original ensaimadasâ€¦they were nice and fluffy and delicious and all, but nothing like I would have expected. Normally, you would expect that the original would far outshine its evolved or is it mutated relativesâ€¦I simply donâ€™t think that is the case here. After several man days testing the ensaimada recipe I put on the blog several months ago, and all of the discussion from dozens and dozens of readers, I think we should CHANGE the name of our ensaimada and make it uniquely our own. Yes, we can acknowledge its ancestry, but no, no, noâ€¦ ours is no longer anything like the original and we should baptize it again. Frankly, I think the ensaimadas we make from the 1950â€™s or 1960â€™s are far superior to the original and hereâ€™s whyâ€¦
First, what did I find in Spain? Okay, I will admit I was in Barcelona and NOT Mallorca. However, the larger ensaimada photographed here was purchased at the food hall of El Corte Ingles and you would expect that they would carry a decent version of the delicacy. It was also quite pricey at say Euro 9 for the box or roughly PHP600!!! It came in a big octagonal box with a packet of powdered sugar to sprinkle on the top. It had a custard filling. The second version I found in a suburban patisserie and they baked it themselves and sold them in these more individual sized servings, already sprinkled with powdered sugar at perhaps 2 Euro or PHP130. Let me describe the smaller version in detailâ€¦ it was incredibly fluffy, and had probably been left to rise for at least 8-10 hours (though this great write-up suggests that the best bakers leave it to rise for 24 hours!). It had a little bit of custard or pastry cream baked within and it was in a single coil and rather lightly baked. It was also quite flat and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was light, sweet, airy, cottony and didnâ€™t seem as lardy as I would have expectedâ€¦ It would be a terrific breakfast bread with a nice cup of hot chocolateâ€¦ The larger ensaimada was more substantial and was baked to a â€œtannerâ€ complexion. It was soft, and doughy and I will admit that since it was several days old, must not have been the best incarnation of the breadâ€¦
The ingredients list sounds pretty straightforward – flour, water, eggs, “mother dough” (with yeast and flour and sugar) and lard. And the process of making it sounds pretty easy albeit takes 24 hours to rise as described in this interesting source. I suppose thatâ€™s it. Thatâ€™s the original version. Our Filipino ensaimadas, on the other hand fall into two broad categories: the â€œolderâ€ version that is more bready, larger, richer, denser and more substantial or more like the 1950â€™s version that I tried to approximate with this recipe, and the more â€œmodernâ€ version (commercial ensaimadas) that are nothing like the older version or the original from Spain in that they are far more cakey, sweeter, airier and saltier due to the copious amounts of cheese placed up top. I think the easy solution is to rename the delicacy so that we can be proud to call it our own and take the credit for possibly having improved on the original!