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Thursday, December 6, 2012


Christmas is just around the corner and I'm pretty sure that some of you will be doing a lot of baking for the holidays. For my family, baking has been part of our Christmas tradition since Clarise (my eldest daughter) was 3. It all started in 2005 when she thought that helping bake cookies for Santa would be a good way to say thank you for the gifts she will get from him. Cherlin (my youngest) was only 2 months old then. Clarise is 10 now, and Cherlin is 7, and the love of holiday baking is one thing that the three of us share. Now it's not just about baking cookies for's more of our bonding time as we help each other make something special for our own holiday feast or to share with our close friends. We've baked all sorts of goodies together for the past 7 years...and I always see joy and excitement in their eyes as they add and mix the ingredients or mold the dough into fancy shapes. It's true that baking with kids can be messy, but I love it! When the baked goodies come out of the oven, seeing the pride on my daughters' faces as they say "We helped make that!" is priceless!

This year, just like the previous ones, we'll be making peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies for Christmas. We'll also be baking a chocolate cake and these lovely treats as per Clarise's request. We call these Ensaymadas in the Philippines. 
Ensaymada is one of those delicious baked goodies that we Filipinos got from our Spanish colonizers. Known as Ensaimada in Spanish, it is a pastry that originated in Mallorca, Spain and is made with flour, water, sugar, eggs, and lard. The Filipino version however is made with butter instead of lard. Some are topped with just butter and sugar, and some have grated cheese (usually aged cheese locally known as keso de bola) and butter cream in addition to the sugar. Ensaymada is popular as an afternoon snack and during the Christmas season, it is considered to be the best match for hot chocolate.

This Ensaymada recipe that I am sharing with you is from the Goldilocks Bakebook which was authored by the founders of Goldilocks (one of the leading bakeshop chains in the Philippines)Milagros Leelin-Yee and Clarita Leelin-Go. This is really a good recipe. I must say that the ensaymadas came out almost like that of Goldilocks. Though I didn't used the exact kind of cheese because I couldn't find it here, the ensaimadas were awesome. I also added more sugar to the dough and used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour...and I guess that made the ensaymadas even better for my family's taste buds! :)

You should try this recipe! If you have kids, I'm sure they will be happy to help. Kneading, rolling and twirling the dough will definitely be fun! 

Yield 24 pcs. ensaymadas
For the dough:
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (softened) plus 1/4 cup (melted)
  • 3 large eggs
For topping:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, creamed
  • 1 cup grated or shredded cheddar cheese (I used white and yellow cheddar)
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine water and evaporated milk and stir until well combined. Add the yeast to the mixture then the sugar, softened butter, eggs, salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the remaining flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 4 minutes more. Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately one tablespoon of olive oil all (vegetable oil will do) around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it is covered with oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and  let the dough rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
2. On a floured surface, punch out the dough and divide into small pieces about 60 grams each. Roll out each piece thinly into 8"x5" rectangles. Brush surface with melted butter. Roll into a long rod and twirl into shape, locking the ends to seal. Place each piece in a greased ensaymada mold. Cover with plastic or wet kitchen towel so the dough won't dry up as they rise. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours). If you don't have ensaymada molds, you can just arrange the twirled dough 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
3. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in color. Remove ensaymada from heat and allow to cool down in molds for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from molds and transfer to a cooling rack. Brush with creamed butter and sprinkle with sugar and grated cheese.