small ensaymada

ensaymada, a filipino sweet bread, is one of the many pastries derived from spanish origins. ensaymada in fact are very much the same as their european counterpart, ensaimada, which are a pastry specialty of the balearic islands, most notably mallorca (majorca). although it is a spanish specialty, the origin of the ensaimada can theoretically be traced to the arabic occupation of the ibizan peninsula from 740 to 1235 AD and the explorations of the arab world by the spanish and portuguese. one belief is that the pastry may have been castilian, as the root of the name, saín, is the castilian medieval word for lard, from which the sweet breads are commonly made today. however, the arabic word for 'butter' was saim, which seems to be a better fit for the name, and for the pastry, which was known to be made originally with butter. it is thought that the mallorcan pastries only were made with lard when the catholic church encouraged the use of pork products to eradicate the arab indocrination of the region and to drive jews and arabs from the region altogether. controversial stuff, this.

however, by the time it got to the philippines, the recipe had reverted to its butter-based origins. the original sweet bread is one large snail-like coil dusted in sugar, but today individual sized cakes are more popular throughout the country. they are soft, buttery, milky and rich, and with the added slather of butter, sugar, and cheese, a sinful pillow of extravagance for your breakfast or tea.


3 1/2 to 4 teaspoonfuls of yeast
1/3 cup of lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoonfuls of white sugar

1/2 cup diluted evaporated milk or undiluted whole milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
3 egg yolks
2 1/2 to 3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour (after measuring sift flour)

grated mild white or yellow cheese, white sugar, softened butter for top or filling

dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and 1 1/2 teaspoonful of white sugar. mix, then set aside until bubbly. mix everything together until well incorporated and smooth. transfer dough into a greased bowl, let rise for one hour, then form into a log, flatten out and fill with cheese and butter (optional), or just coil into a snail shape in a greased pan. if you are making individual cakes, divide the dough in equal pieces, roll into logs and coil or knot and place in greased muffin tins. let rise for another hour, then brush with butter and bake in a preheated 300˚F oven for 25 minutes or until lightly brown. cool completely, slather with butter, dust with sugar and top with grated cheese, if desired.

mini ensaymada


Hi Ate, where did you get the recipe? We used to have a hometown special ensaymada, most probably dating from the Spanish colonial period. These were baked only for Christmas but the family who used to do so has discontinued the practice. My mom's cousin asked them for the recipe a month ago and sadly, they don't have it anymore. It died with one of the uncles. Never written down...

But your ensaymadas look tempting, as usual. What a way to commemorate Magellan's landing, yesterday. :-)

hi ate! i got the recipe from one of the santos cousins, tinette, who had a bakery for awhile. i don't think the recipe is very old, or actually, it might be old, but from another family. whoever ran the commercial baking classes at the culinary arts school she attended :-) this recipe is good, much better when you make a big one and let it rise for a long time. it reminds me of muhlach megamelt ones or whatever they are called. very soft and melt-in-your-mouth. mmmmm :-D

Praise the Lard.

Much as I wish we could all get along, if there's going to be trouble it's probably best it's with sweet bread at 30 paces rather than crossbows.

Great stuff.

anthony-san--it's a wonder why we all don't have more food issues with the way that food was historically used against people, huh? well, i suppose that continues today, but what a bitch. i can imagine fathers slathering their daughters' necks with lard to discourage a little interracial nookie, or like, making chastity belts out of bacon. yeah, i put it out there, don't think about it too hard or you'll never eat breakfast again.

Indeed bacon covered women - so bad, it's just mmmmmmmmm.

It is quite common for Perth fathers to cover their daughters in vegemite when a US warship docks and Japanese parents have been known to feed their daughters natto to protect them from foreign devils.

Hi Santos! Thanks for the recipe. i think the girls and i may give it a try. We haven't had ensaymada in a while :-)

just to let you know I copied this recipe
I just buzz you when I bake this..


i will surely try this..it looks yummmmm!we don't have it here in aussie. goodluck to me! yemah

sha, your version turned out wonderfully!

yemah, good luck!

Hi,I'm from Mallorca, where the original ensaimada comes from. I love them. I recently tried the Filipino variation and I think is a great variation too. Ensaimada or ensaymada, butter or lard, it's the best pastry in the world!

hi! i'm really keen on trying your recipe. can you tell me what kind of yeast you used? there's only one kind that i can find here - dry yeast which comes in 7g packets. i hope it's the right one. your photos are really gorgeous and the ensaymadas look so yummy! thanks!

hi anon, that's the one! i'm not sure how much 7g measures out to, so you'll have to remeasure in teaspoons.

wow,,,made these recently with some revisions (added one more egg yolk, flour, milk and less yeast) with success. My uncle and cousin are usually the ones who make these for our parties but I think with this recipe, the job will now go to me...yay

hi anon! glad it worked out! i haven't made these in awhile, i think i'll add more yolks to recipe too.

how long is the overall preperation time?

hi nica, it depends on the weather and your proficiency with working with dough. it usually takes about 10 minutes for the yeast to get all bubbly, then 45 minutes to an hour for the dough to rise in warm but not humid weather, and if you are doing individual-sized portions, maybe another 30-45 minutes to cut, shape, butter and sugar everything....so that'11 be roughly 2 1/2 to 3 hours total.

oh okay thank you.

im planning on making mini ensaymadas, in cupcake molds, would that be fine?

hallooo--sorry went xmas shopping :)

yes, perfect, actually--cucpake mold keeps them neat and pretty. i think you'd only need to bake them for 20 minutes or less if the molds are small.

I am looking for a ensaymadas recipe like the one I had at Philippine Mary Grace bakery. Can any one tell me is this recipe of ensaymadas taste close to Mary Grace's ensaymadas? They are the best,100 times better than Goldilock.

Help! I tried the recipe last night. It tasted good but it looked a mess (not appealing) and was very sticky when I tried to roll it!? Any ideas why?

oh no! it might be too humid where you are. also, make sure all the ingredients are roughly the same temperature. i don't know why this makes a difference but it does. the dough is very sticky, but if it is too sticky to work with, add more flour (a couple of tablespoonfuls at a time) until it is at a point where you think you can handle it. try not to handle it too much after rolling (i know, it sounds impossible, but heat from handling will also make it difficult). if it's just too sticky, stick it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then roll it on a floured surface.

hope that helps!

hello there!would really like to make this but i dont have any all-purpose flour, is it ok to use self-rising flour instead?

thanks and more power!

switduchess, i wouldn't. self-raising flour has baking powder and salt in it, and i'm not sure how that would react with the yeast in the recipe. if you use self-raising flour without the yeast, you might have a nice cake-like product which would taste similar, but not the same consistency.

Hi Santos
I tried the recipe and it was great. May I have your permission to post the recipe on my blog at www.mycookingescapades.blogspot.com

ginny, sure!

Hi Santos,
I'm familiar with ensamadas from Hawaii (because I've devoured them), the Filipino version and they are so good. I'm wanting to make some this weekend so I'll try your recipe.
The history you provided for the food is so interesting. Did you get the info. from a book or from a person? I'd love to know.

Thanks Santos. I have received many emails requesting for the recipe.

hi aah-eden, i can't remember the name of the book i was reading at the time, it was a history of filipino food, possibly cocina sulipeña which focuses on regional pampangan cuisine. i gleaned some info about the history of european explorers in the region, along with some idea of what pastries and cakes were first made in the area. the information about european ensaimada i took mostly from the 'net, although i honestly couldn't tell you which sites! the thing about the lard and the catholic church? weirdly, i knew about that since i was a kid; we read some interesting stuff back then!

hi rusti, i hope it worked out for you!

Thanks Santos, I'll put that book on my list of cookbooks I need. Maybe I can get it at the library too.
I was wondering if I could get your ensemada recipe printed in the little food column I have in an Oregon newspaper. I would credit you however you like and if you wanted, I'd send you a copy.

I tried the recipe you provided last weekend and it was manageable for me to make and very yummy. I plan to post the column for printing this Monday. It's totally cool if you don't want to have it printed or if you never answer this at all! Thanks no matter what!
if you're interested though, my e-mail is zjacket54321@yahoo.com.

Hi Santos

I tried your recipe and my kids love it! We're (Filipinos) in Canada and I felt I had to put the dough in the oven to rise as it was taking too long - could it be because it's snowing outside? Anyways, I read that after proofing most dough are punched down - should I do that with this recipe?

By the way, I saw a photo of your library ans also your cut-outs in your other blogs. I have to say how impressed I am at how artistic you are. Thanks for sharing with us!

Mom of 5

hallo! i'm glad your kids enjoyed it. i think doughs are punched down if there is a second rising when it is en masse, but since the second rising occurs after the ensaymada dough has been portioned out and shaped, then punching isn't necessary as all that manhandling should do the trick :)

Hi there! I have never ever tried baking ensaymada nor bread in my whole life as I always prefered to buy finished product. However, as I am not in the Philippines anymore, and my cravings for ensaymada stays, then I guess I ve got no choice but to make one for myself and for my husband.
So wish me luck! And hope this experiment would be better than Red Ribbon's. :)

Btw you may come and check out my blogsite: www.mystique2008.blogspot.com

the muhlach megamelt is a travesty to the ensaymada. it is nothing more than cheap bread slathered in cheap margarine and cheap cheese. you will notice that when you eat it (i tried it once, spat it out and threw the rest away), it sticks to the palate, stubbornly. the mark of cheap bread.

next time you're in the philippines, try MARY GRACE or even RED RIBBON. to me, MARY GRACE is the best commercial pinoy ensaymada. try to make a trip to their pastry shop in serendra or trinoma and taste as many variations as you can manage.

hai! im nirmal...wow...i had to see this blog because i do my laundry in a mall with a little filipino shop. i'm an indian woman, but it doesn't matter much....the little shop owners are so sweet. they are amazed that i can pronounce the items, and that i like trying them. anyway, one of the things i found was an ube ensaymada n i must say i like them alot. the grated cheese was a bit of a surprise as im not used to grated cheese on my sweet pastries, but it was welcome. i am glad to have also found ur recipie so i can try to make it. thanks again!

Hi! my mom ask me to bake ensaymada for her, my first attempt from a magazine turns out like a bread and never tasted close to ensaymada. while i was looking for a good recipe, i've been reading reviews and a blog from one who tried it. I woke up at 6 this morning and made the stuff and done before noon. I used bread flour (that's what i have) instead and add another yolk. Yes it is sticky to handle so i add a few tablespoon of flour while rolling individually. Thank you for the recipe.. it taste great! my mom loved it! ;-)


I love ensaymada, Philippine style of course. I have yet to try the mallorcan version.