“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

James Beard (1903-1985)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

BBB - Ensaïmadas

It's odd. I've baked for years and never once remembered to bake ensaïmadas. Even worse, I never once thought about ensaïmadas until I saw this month's Bread Baking Babes challenge, posted by Karen. As soon as I saw the title my memory took me back to the time I lived on Mallorca, during the late seventies.

I had a friend named Cora Guiscardo with whom I often hung out after school. Cora, her two sisters and I would treat ourselves to tender, flaky ensaïmadas that we'd rip to pieces and dunk into our cups of hot creamy chocolate for our afternoon merienda. We'd sit on the balcony of their parent's apartment, close to the Palma harbor, and enjoy the beautiful view, wondering what else was out there beyond the horizon.

Well, there's plenty out there and sometimes I wonder if I've seen it all. So I have no hesitation to bake myself back into my early teens and memories of the company of three dear friends on a sunny balcony in beautiful Spain. Let's go!

Give them plenty of time to rise
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup milk, warm
2 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 tablespoons of soft butter (the traditional version uses lard)
1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

Mix 3 cups of flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and add 3/4 cup of warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top, stir once or twice and cover. Let sit for five minutes, then stir in the rest of the milk, the eggs and one tablespoon of olive oil. Knead into a soft and supple dough, adding flour if needed. Place in a greased bowl, cover and rest for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Not for the faint of heart....
Use the second tablespoon of olive oil to grease the counter. Take the dough out of the bowl, weigh and divide into 6 equal parts. Roll each into a ball, set aside and cover. (If you have an untreated wooden rolling pin like I do, rub a little bit of olive oil into the wood before you start rolling, it will avoid tearing the dough). Roll each ball into a thin circle, then use both hands to carefully stretch the dough thinner. The dough will grip the oiled counter, allowing you to stretch really thin. Spread the soft butter onto the dough, then carefully roll the dough into a tube, starting from the top. Here's a video that shows you how to do it: much easier then me trying to verbalize it!
Coil the now rolled dough onto a baking sheet prepared with parchment. Leave some space in between the individual circles so that the dough can fill this up when it proofs. Cover and rise in a warm kitchen up to 4 hours. Heat the oven to 350F and bake the ensaïmadas golden brown in about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar: eat and grin!

Saïm stands for "lard" in Mallorquin. Ensaïmada therefore means something like "covered in lard", or "larded" (Is that a word?).  I guess mine should be called "enmantegadas" (mantega = butter) which doesn't half sound as yummie.

As for the chocolate recipe: melt one 8.8 oz bag of Dove chocolates in a small saucepan with 1/ cup of milk and 1/4 cup of whipping cream. Pour in a pretty cup, tear a piece of pastry off and dunk :-). Yeah, it's not healthy but it sure tastes good!



  1. Nicole, these look wonderful! Funny, I *just* wrote you an email to ask if you made these! So glad to see that you were able to participate!

  2. Now thát's the combination! What fun to hear you lived in Mallorca, food -and scents- are great things to transport you back to happy memories. So glad you baked them, they look soft and all yummy!

  3. now that's a coincidence that you even lived in Mallorca! This is a wonderful breakfast on a plate... or lunch or in between snack... did I say it just looks wonderful?!

  4. You lived on Mallorca! with three friends! as a teen! What wonderful memories.
    I love how blogging can bring me up short with such pleasant memories and beautiful foods as this one!
    So glad you baked with us!

  5. Wow. They look just like all the pictures I googled! And the cup of chocolate to accompany... sheer heaven. Yummy picture!

  6. Mine should be called "enmantegadas", too, because I didn't use lard, either. Didn't have any on hand - should have checked the recipe BEFORE I went grocery shopping! ;-)

  7. Oh my, so perfect with the cup of Dove chocolate!
    Absolutely wonderful.
    Thanks so much for baking with us this month! :)

  8. Awesome bread perfect. Love to try them.