Holiday Ensaimadas…


It doesn’t really seem like the holidays unless we produce at least one generous batch of ensaimadas in the Marketman household. One year we gave them away as Christmas presents and we baked over 100 of them which was rather exhausting, so never again on that scale… But New Year’s Day had come and gone and several queso de bolas were still in the fridge, screaming to melt into and top an ensaimada, so we finally baked up a batch for a merienda a few days later…


Our guest of honor was an old classmate from highschool who has lived in France for 17 years doing volunteer work for a Christian theatre group. She grew up in Manila and still comes to visit family. We made a batch of Marc Medina’s “hinayupak” ensaimadas with a few alterations to the recipe and they turned out absolutely wonderful. These are less work than the recipe I featured here, but the results were still delicious. We served them with tea, coffee or hot chocolate and to our surprise, it was the first time our friend had ever tasted a homemade ensaimada. Her initial reaction? “It’s like a brioche with cheese!” Which is so true! And yes, we like it a golden color, not the blond lightness so prevalent in many commercial ensaimadas these days…


64 Responses

  1. thick hot choco is, as rachel ray always says, YUM-O! or if I were to remain faithful to the real version of my favorite childhood ensaymada pairing, I would go for milo!

  2. I love ensaimadas… Particularly the one from Bellevue, the one with ube in the center… Damn great tasting ensaimadas… But Mulach’s Quickmelt would do…

    Really a great pair with hot chocolate…

  3. What kind of alterations did you make? I remember you made the Medina family recipe once before, but I think you followed the Saveur recipe exactly that time.

    I’m anxious to try making ensaimada again, but I’d love to try an easier version of the Medina one. I don’t have a stand mixer, so all my kneading will have to be done by hand–any shortcuts would be appreciated!

    I just got back from the Philippines where I did a taste test of four different home-baker ensaimada (Pasteleria de Mallorca, Medina, Pampanga, and Dulcelin–all were very good, but Pasteleria de Mallorca edged out the others by a notch. My personal favourite was the Medina one, though. Unfortunately, Pamanga sold out so we couldn’t add them to our test!), and now I have a craving for ensaimada all the time. I love ensaimada! (thought my waistline doesn’t!)

  4. I made Marc’s ensai too, but not hinayupak size anymore. Made them muffin size, then froze them non-slathered w/ butter. I rebaked when needed to eat some, straight freezer to oven.
    They lasted about a month from pre-christmas to just before new year. Still okay, but really better freshly made.

  5. I am itching to bake something this weekend. Ubos na ang stock ng mansanas sa basement at sawa na rin ako sa apple cake. It is so nice to rediscover ensaymada; paborito kong merienda sa alas tres ng hapon noon…Sana ay ma-achieve ko rin ‘yung “brioche-ish” texture and quality—SANA! (I am rubbish when it comes to baking, hehehe, my first attempt at something always ends up in the bin—all of the consequent attempts are borderline crap/edible that I am the only one who wants to eat them. But I pat myself on the head for trying, huh.) Love this post, MM.

  6. Today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to myself!

    I’m going to treat myself to a couple of ‘ensaimadas’ and a cup of hot cocoa.

  7. I am all “ensaymada’d” out now, MM! But I still don’t know how my boys and y relatives can still inhale ensaymadas no matter how many I make!!!!!

    Miimi…next time…try this so you have fresh baked ones….after coiling or shaping them into a knot, lay each coiled dough on cookie sheet, single layer and FREEZE. When frozen rock hard, put it ziplock bags or air tight bags….UNBAKED! Then when you want some , take them out of the freezer, put them in your moulds and let it defrost in the fridgeovernight covered with plastic wrap so the top does not dry out. Next day, take them out of the cooler and continue to proof. Doing it this way, saves you time and effort and omit steps 1, 2 and 3 each time.

    Happy Birthday, Tonito!

    MM….have you heard from Apicio? I know he is probably in his cubby hole somewhere in Rio this time of the year BUT He hasn’t made any cmments for nearly 1 year? I hope is is OK! …..and so is Silly Lolo…I hope you are OK, Silly Lolo!!!!

    Rona Y: most ensaymadas doughs are really soft…that is you do it by hand, your tendency will be to add more flour which is a no, no!!!! Can you not invest in a stand up mixer? If you were here, I will give you the one I am using. My boys gifted me with a brand new Kitchenaid for my birthday while hubby gifted me with a much BIGGER Kitchenaid as well that I can set up a cake shop in the basement!!!! Another plus buying a Kitchenaid….it can really stand the TEST OF TIME! I had one that is over 20 years old and not once did I have it serviced!!!!

    And no. I do not work for Kitchenaid or Hobart!

  8. @betty_q, oo nga po, hindi na madalas ang appearance ni Silly Lolo mula noong lumpiang hubad post. I hope he’s alright. He’s one of my favourite characters here in Marketmanila, saka ikaw.

  9. No pain, no gain, that’s the bottom line with ensaimada making. There is no short cut that doesn’t have drawbacks. It’s very easy, it’s just time consuming and drawn out. Why bother making ensaimada if you aren’t going to do it right .
    I personally prefer a very long rising period (24 -30 hours refrigerated) instead of large amounts of yeast which gives you a fluffy end product but an obnoxiously yeasty smell. Kneading by hand is not a hassle and actually requires very little energy once you have mastered the technique.
    And yes, it isn’t Christmas without a stack of ensaimadas!

  10. i haven’t tried making enseymadas at all. i just buy from red ribbon
    and they’re perfectly fine with me. the real thing i missed really is
    the pure tsokolateng batirol with gatas ng kalabaw……..

    happy, happy birthday, tonito!!!

  11. Am finally in Manila !!! and the traffic is oh so choc-a-block…I guess the only time to move around in the city is between 4-5 early morning…Enjoyed Manila Bay sunset from the BelleVue at the Diamond Hotel.

  12. The ensaimadas look delicious! I guess it doesn’t help that I am pregnant, always hungry, and EVERYTHING looks good. . .

    Betty- what kind of KitchenAid mixer did you get? I got one for Christmas, too. Mine is the Professional 600 in the pearl metallic finish. It’s so beautiful, I admire it every time I walk into the kitchen LOL. I still have my other KitchenAid mixer (12 years old, works perfectly, and never serviced).

    Mimi- the stand mixers are definitely an investment but well worth the cost, in my opinion. I scrimped and saved every penny I had when I was a poor college student so that I could buy my first KitchenAid mixer. I’ve never regretted it.

  13. Oh BettyQ, alas, no ensaymadas for me this holiday season . My newly bought Kitchenaid perished in the garage fire as well as the tin molds, and I haven’t even gotten my $20 rebate yet, grrrrrr.

  14. For those wanting to try their hand at ensaymada making and find that the dough is rather soft and unmanageable …to achieve that flaky texture much like croissant…CHILL that balls of dough first once you have portioned them making them easier to roll and spread the butter thinly and roll into a baston. It will not stick to your counter and you will not need to add bench flour to your counter.

    That is why as Sister said, making ensaymadas is labor intensive but worth well the effort!

    Oh, no Doc! Ok….my sister is heading back home (again!) in Feb. I could ask her to bring back more moulds if MM hasn’t depleted the Divisoria or Landmark inventory!….just kidding, MM!

  15. Your ensaimada’s look so delicious! After reading some of your older threads, it seems like you are quite familiar with the New York City/New Jersey area? Do you recommend any filipino bakery’s in the New York/New Jersey area that sell ensaimadas & other filipino delicacies. Thanks again for your fun & informative blogs!


  16. I’ve never tried baking anything – and wouldn’t venture into that world. My sister is the “baker” in the family – I’ll forward this post to her & maybe she’ll bake me some ensaimada when I go visit!
    BettyQ – you are as amazing as MM!

  17. I have worn out at least 5 kitchen aid mixers in the last 40 years and my dream machine has always been a 20 qt Hobart for all that fruitcake. Should have bought it when it was only $2000. for the last time I inquired it was past $5,000 and I’m not going to live long enough to amortize the cost. For those who have a 6qt KA I hope they have worked the kinks out, mine was replaced twice by KA the first year, gratis, and it no longer works. It’s a real lemon. Mostly it does not scrape the bottom of the bowl and needs a more powerful motor. Stick with the 5 qt. and forget about the 41/2 qt. as well which has a seriously weak motor.Ktcihen Aid 5 qt. are readily available under $200. on sale and well worth the investment if you bake a couple of times a month.

  18. yummo! looks so good.
    I stumbled across your site very recently and added it to my google reader. FYI for some reason your photos don’t load in google reader.

  19. tonito, it’s my son’s birthday also today. he’s 20 years old. anyway,
    enjoy and have fun on your birthday!!!

  20. Thanks for the tip, Sister. I’ve kept my 5 qt. KA “just in case”. I’ve been told, though, that the depth of the beater is adjustable (so it can get to the bottom of the bowl). We’ll see. . .for my sake, I really hope KA worked out the kinks from the 6 qt. model.

  21. i was holding my breath while reading sister’s comments about kitchenaid’s kinks. then i almost shouted yahoo when she mentionted that the 5 qt seems to be the best of the lot. i just received my kitchenaid in the balikbayan box last week and mine is the 5 qt!!! really, i am thrilled that i made the right choice in the size of mixer that i bought. thanks sister! btw, this kitchenaid is one the major investments i have bought for myself and i am really pleased that i found out about this site some 4 1/2 yrs ago, learning about good kitchen tools that really makes sense including good pans, the cast iron pan which has been so useful, the plethora of ingredients and its sources. the wealth of information i have gained is try immeasurable.

    back to saving for my future staub. =)

  22. I am one of the lucky ones , I guess, that has no problem with the 6 qt. mixer given as an anniversary present by hubby years ago. But if you have the flat paddle problem not scraping the bottom of the bowl, Kitchenaid came up with an attachment to put around the flat paddle and you should have no problems when creaming the butter and sugar.

    Angela, my 6 qt. mixer…the attachments are just like my 5 qt. mixer…plastic coated and not burnished steel. Hubby said he bought it about 4 or 5 years ago at Sur la table. I need to look for the box for the model or edition…My niece’s attachments came with burnished steel so it could be the different editions…different material?

    Sister, ….I have a very dear friend who owns a bakery and would let me use her ovens and mixers should I need use them. Is there a bakery close to where you are and the owner is your “kabagang as they say?”

  23. I’ve tried doing ensaymada once about 10 years ago and it was indeed labor intensive,I haven’t done it again ever since.But I have to agree that home made ensaymada beats all commercial ones available.Maybe I should try again this time with all the queso de bola in the fridge!and use the Queensland butter in cans for best flavor.

  24. Sister, what is the model of your 6 qt. mixer? I know it comes in a Custom edition and Professional series. i think the Professional series has the burnished steel attachments. What my husband bought a few years ago was the Custom edition. It had the white plastic coated attachments. He said when he bought it, the saleslady talked him into buying that instead of the Professional series and I am very grateful that he listened to her for I have no problems whatsoever with my 6 qt.

    Angela, did you buy yours at Sur La Table?

  25. How’s everyone here? I haven’t checked MM’s post recently, yummy ensaimada….lucky for me I received 2 boxes as Christmas gift..sabayan mo ng kape..uhmmm..NAMIT GUID YAH!
    You guys ready for more of MM’s Post for 2010??
    Me,too…Market Manila, our kitchen is ready for you. :-)

  26. @betty q.–thanks for the kind offer! I’ve been living in Japan for the past 6 years (where KA mixers run more than $1000 if you can find them), and am about to move back to Canada at the end of March. It’s on my list of things to buy, but I have to figure out where I’m going to live first! But if you’re in Canada, I’ll be happy to buy your old mixer from you! I can store it at my mother’s house until I figure out where I’m going. :-)

    @sister–you’re so right. Sometimes, however, laziness gets the better of me. :-) Have you ever considered Electrolux Magic Mill DLX mixers? An acquaintance from an online group swears by them, and she does a lot of heavy-duty bread baking (she used to be a caterer, too). It holds up to 28 cups of flour. More expensive than a KitchenAid, but cheaper than a Hobart!

    I took a bread baking class where we made some pretty wet (and rich) doughs, so I think I may be able to do ensaimada by hand. I would have to scale the Medina recipe down by at least half, though. There’s only one of me, and I only have 10 weeks left here! (And no! I’m not sharing! At least not if it’s good. . . )

    Does anyone ever use instant yeast when making ensaimada? I prefer instant, and I also prefer overnight rises, but I’m not sure how little yeast I can use in this case. The usual substitution is 3/4 tsp instant per 1 tsp active dry. The Medina recipe calls for 3T of active dry for their dough. I’d like to cut it down to no more than 1T if I’m doing an overnight rise, but would that be enough oomph for the 22 egg yolks and 2 cups of butter?

  27. betty_q. thanks for the tip, next time I will try it this way. for now, I am also ensaí’d-out. have a new baby so experimenting in the kitchen has taken a backseat. my cookie doughs – crinkles, lengua and choc chip – are still in the freezer waiting to be baked. need to clone myself to have a cooking me and a yaya-ing me…hahaha.

  28. My mom bought a kitchen aid in 1976 and i still use it to this day! Ensaymadas are labor intensive but worth it!

  29. @Jing_Bacolod–are you in Bacolod now? I just spent two weeks there!

    Sad to say there are no good ensaimadas in BCD. My Lola Ding (not really my Lola, but a relative of an in-law) used to make the best old-style ensaimadas and pan de sal, but she passed away many years ago, and no one uses her recipes now. Must go to Manila for good ensaimada!

    Darn good chocolate cake there, though!

  30. I agree with MM, Sister and Betty q. ensaymada is very labor extensive…the reason why I only make it during the christmas season. And it really is worth the effort. I grew up eating homemade ensaymadas and when I got here to the US and my mom passed away, it took awhile before I got the knack of making it. Commercial ones where the only resort to having ensaymada during the holidays…and then I really had that craving for the real ensaymada… for 6 yrs now, since I got married…ensaymada is part of the menu…

    Thanks MM, maybe I’ll give your recipe a try…might be a bit easier than my mom’s recipe.

  31. hello everyone!!! have not been able to visit the site for a few days. i miss reading everyone’s comments. was thinking of buying a KA this Christmas, glad i held back and read the tips/comments. will keep those in mind. thanks guys!!! have not made ensaimada in a LONG time. maybe it is time to try again.
    @bettyq– was in your neck of the woods this past weekend.

  32. Rona Y….your friend’s Electrolux mixer used to be the Bosch Mixer in the 90’s. Back then it costs $700! And yes, my wonderful hubby gifted me also with one of those. Some wives get “bling” for anniversaries…I get MIXERS!!!! I dare not say anything…I still have it and it is like brand new for I only used it in the baking classes I gave when we were up North. What he gave me was the all in one machine….which included a blender, a food proceesor and the giant mixing bowl….which is why it costs $700!!! The only thing I didn’t like about it is the “tilt head” mechanism much like the Classic Kitchenaid mixer. I prefer the ‘lift bowl type” maybe that is what I am accustomed to since my apprenticeship days using the big Hobart mixers.

    So, you see now Angela why i can really set up shop in the basement? I can hold baking classes and each student have a mixer she can use while here at home!!!!!

  33. Betty. . .I have the Professional 600 which was purchased at Crate and Barrel. (It has the burnished steel attachments) I’m really hoping I won’t have problems with this mixer. I’ll probably break down and cry if I have to return it.

    Like you, Betty, my husband gifts me with kitchen stuff for anniversaries and birthdays. Next on my list are Shun knives :) Email me your phone number and I will call you when I make it to Vancouver; I am in dire need of baking lessons.

  34. MM, wonderful ensaimadas. Must make them soon. Been wanting to do this before the holidays. Now I must do it. bettyq, from your tip above, I think I got now what I did not do before to make my ensaimadas flaky. the BUTTER brushed before rolling into a baston. Thanks so much. I still have to look for my aunt’s recipe. It is somewhere in my stash of recipes. I have not baked for a few years now. Yes, I did give these for Christmas presents one time and never again,>). We must meet up one day, okay?

  35. Been dying to try to make Ensaimada but it looks like to complicated, the last time na nakakain ako ng ensaimada was 2 years ago when a friend from Manila gave me a small box from Manila na home made daw na binibilihan nila.
    Tried making the banana cake recipe ni MM and it came out very good, now ensimada here i come (huwag sana ako unahan ng takot). But have to buy those fluted cups pa.

    BETTY Q – Tried the Cuchinta and chocolate cake recipe and “to-die-for” sila, If by chance your sending your recipes thru e-mail puede ba ako makasali?

  36. @betty q.–I didn’t know Electrolux and Bosch used to be the same! They’re separate companies now. I’d love a DLX, but I think it’s too big for what I need. I can’t bake too much, or I’ll eat it all. :-) The next time I’m in Vancouver, I’m going to attend your ensaimada baking class!!!

    I only bought 5 or 6 ensaimada moulds (bought during this last trip) so I wouldn’t make too many at once!

  37. BettyQ, I remember the first time I made your ensaimada and it was mostly by hand. I then got a KA mixer, which made the process so much easier. I didn’t have time to make ensaimadas this past holiday season — but, with this post, I am thinking I should take that KA out. I will freeze the dough as you recommended above. My brother just got back from the Philippines and brought tableas for me. Ensaimada and hot tsokolate – yum!

  38. Betty Q, There are commercial kitchens in NYC you can rent for a day aimed at private caterers. No food made at home can be sold legally in NYC unless donated to a charity, for example church or school bake sale. I have baked in school or church kitchens and love the commerciasl equipment. The 6 qt KA is buried in the closet and it is the one with the burnished beaters from the professional series. It makes an awful lot of noise. Mostly I keep 2 five qt. mixers going at the same time for holiday baking. The fruit and batter for fruitcake I mix by hand. Ensaimad or otgher sweet breads I knead by hand because mostly I don’t measure and relie on feel.. I think I’m not buying any more mixers in the near future. I dream about the 60 qt. KA which I often see vheap at kitchen auctions. Now that’s some machine.

  39. Like Sister and her 60qt. mixer, my mixers and the basement classes are just wishful thinking! I have already been advised by my wonderful hubby and his electrician friend that NO WAY are we going to have the house rewired!!!

  40. Pale ensaimada’s just look so unappetizing. I have a 5-qrt KA but it’s back home in the Phils. Sigh.

  41. For Rona Y, Japan —–hi there, yes im a resident here we have an in-house pasty maker and she makes really good ensaimadas and ensaimaditas (the cute ones) and its really yummy. Yung parang croissant sya na pag kina-in mo soft talaga and smells good pa. Then yung cheese tska sugar blends well sa taas….are you from here? if you want bigyan kita. Gift kasi yun ng boss ko last christmas eh. i always check MM’s blog…so hope to hear from you…

  42. Rona Y, Japan —-yeah chocolate cakes fave ko din, Bob’s and Calea’s are great…and the one in CL Montelibano Avenue, Bascon Cafe….there’s a new coffee and tea shop (yata ..) at 6th Street Lacson…Felicia’s they sell miniature cakes and there macaroons are great! You can try them the next time you’re here…

  43. Sorry about all the typos, didn’t bother to edit last night, I was very tired. Betty Q, Jusdt built a shed nearby and have your cooking school!

  44. Jing_Bacolod–my mother is from Bacolod (the ancestral home was in Silay, actually). We live in Canada (though I’m in Japan now), but she spends several months in BCD every year to help manage the family sugarcane farm in Talisay (or maybe in Silay. . .I can’t remember now). I actually spent a year in BCD when I was ten (went to St. Scho, even!). This past Christmas was only my second time back since I lived there.

    Felicia’s is owned by my relatives, so I’ve tried their cakes! Their sans rival is really good, but we really like their fruitcakes and the turron de pili. I didn’t try their macaron, though. They didn’t have any flavours I wanted to try. Aunt Sony passed away last year (many of the recipes are hers, and she was an awesome baker), but her daughter is doing a great job carrying on. Unfortunately, another tragedy has just hit them, but I hope things settle down again.

    I tried a lot of chocolate cakes (including two from Felicia’s), but my favourite was from a home baker (who is also a relative). She wouldn’t give me her recipe, but she gave me two miniature cakes to take home with me! Lucky me! 21 carries her chocolate cakes if you want to try them.

    No one told me about Bacson Cafe! It will go on my list for next time!

    And if your in-house ensaimada maker wants to sell to outsiders, I’ll let my mother know. Then she can bring me some when she visits me in March! :-) I tried two ensaimadas in Bacolod (one at Felicia’s, and the other was from a cafe, but I can’t remember which), and neither warranted a second try. Actually, I don’t even think I finished either. One bite and I knew they didn’t meet my standards.

  45. Oh, Sister!…maybe in another lifetime!

    But if your little brother would like to open one, maybe I can relocate and volunteer…maybe as a taste tester!!!! I call first dibs, Lee!

  46. Ensaymada making 101,,,i think i’m already in class 505, thanks to BettyQ. KA mixers will cut down the labor in half, I think it’s mostly the waiting that makes the process longer (rising and proofing process). Also when you try making it, make at least one batch (about 18-24 pcs) on your first try, and make sure you have enough moulds for it. Lastly, you need a marble or granite slab when flattening your cold dough so they won’t stick and you can get it thin enough you can see through it ( i think that’s the secret for having the ensaimada flaky when baked).

    I was able to get from a different company a KA plastic paddle attachment with rubbers on the edges that will scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl while it’s spinning, really great attachment. I also have the plastic coated dough hook attachment, a lot better than the burnished aluminum one.

  47. KA plastic paddle is only good for cake or cookie dough and not strong enough for bread dough which uses the hook for kneading. My main objection to the 6 qt KA is that it is very noisy and one qt more is no big deal, easier to knead 10 lbs of flour on a board.

  48. Angela, when you go up north to Vancouver, let me know so we can go meet up with Bettyq at the same time and have our baking lessons then. That is, if it is ok with Bettyq. I am going to make my ensaimadas pretty soon. I think I have all the ingredients already. I hope my humble KA can handle the kneading.

  49. @Rona Y ——hi ron….bacolod is so small talaga….i want to let your mom try our ensaimaditas if she wants…can u gv me your email add? thanks and hope to see you.

  50. @Jing_Bacolod–my e-mail is prasantrin at yahoo dot ca. Hope she can bring some to me, and thanks!

    Back to ensaimada, my mother’s cousin says there’s an esaimada place in Manila that’s very popular now. Home baker, I think, who does ensaimada the old way. They’re not big like Mallorca, Medina, etc. ensaimadas, but are smaller. She’s going to find out if the home baker still makes them, and perhaps order some for my mother to bring over for me. I’ll report back if they ever make it here!

  51. Question for SISTER: I live in Valley Stream, NY and would like to know if there are any commercial kitchens that are for rent in Long Island? Thanks

  52. This was an extraordinary blog and I learned so many dessert that I don’t even know exits. I am impressed to say the least.
    I know, you just don’t give out email addreses without asking the person involved of their permission first, I do understand that. Can you asked her for me please.
    It perked my curiosity when Betty Q, says that he (Ted) has taken her classes on Ensaymada online. I’d like to take that class too. What are the qaulications to take Betty Q class? I am in California. Thank you,

  53. carolina, bettyq does not give classes on line, I think that thread relates to a recipe she describes in an earlier post. There are several recipes for ensaimada on the blog, so you may wish to try some of those…

  54. Thank you for your expedient reply. I have another question, the ensaymada mold that I got from home has so nany ridges. is it correct or should I settle with the one from here, (french made). I love to cook and cooking is my passion. Thanks again.



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