The travel guides we took with us to
Ensaimadas are the traditional breakfast fare of
Sarah and I actually found ensaimadas to be great, light starts to the day – not as heavy or unhealthy as their lard-based recipe suggests. They’re like a cross between a croissant and sweet bread, puffy with a slightly crisped outside, but melt-in-your-mouth sweet and soft on the inside. They were a nice local replacement for my morning croissant and bagel – and perfect with a strong cup of coffee.
The pastry uses simple ingredients - strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, and lard. The trick to making perfect ensaimadas, though, is in the kneading and rising stages of the recipe. I wasn’t lucky enough to see any master pastry chefs work their manual magic, but I did my best to collect some tips from local bakers. A variant is served with thick cream in the middle, but I’ll stick to plain ensaimadas (my favorite) to keep things simple. And, for the more health conscious among us, I’ve also substituted butter for the traditional lard. If you have any advice or modifications to what I suggest in the recipe below, please share them!
4 tspn dry yeast
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 tspn salt
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tbspn olive oil
1 ½ cup butter, for coating
sugar for dusting
½ cup grated
Directions 1. Warm milk slightly in microwave. Dissolve yeast in the warmed milk and set aside.
1. Warm milk slightly in microwave. Dissolve yeast in the warmed milk and set aside.
2. Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour and warm milk mixture, interchanging each. Blend thoroughly. If using an electric mixer, mixture should just separate from sides of bowl.
3. Break and beat eggs together lightly in a separate boil. Mix in olive oil. Add egg and oil mixture to flour mixture, mix well, and knead until soft and well-blended.
4. Cover with a damp cheese cloth or paper towels and leave to rise in a warm place (just above room temperature) for about an hour, until dough doubles in volume.
5. Remove cloth, knead the dough again. Dust a clean, flat counter surface with flour to prevent dough from sticking. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin as possible over a floured surface (1/4 inch thickness). Brush the entire surface of the dough with softened butter. Be generous!
6. Start rolling the dough, bit by bit, from one side all the way to the other, as though you were rolling up a sheet of paper – fairly tightly. When the dough has been rolled up, allow it to rest, covered again, for 1 hour.
7. Remove cloth and coil the risen dough loosely horizontally, making a snail shell shape. Transfer the coil to a greased baking sheet.
8. Cover one final time with an extremely large inverted bowl, large enough to ensure that the dough will not stick to the bowl's surface when it rises. Allow the dough to rise for 3-4 hours.
9. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Uncover and bake the dough coil for around 45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Add cheese if desired.
10. To serve, cool slightly till warm and cut into cake-like slices. Serve with a great cup of coffee!