Monday, December 08, 2008

Flaky, Buttery, and Sweet Ensaimada

Where I live, ensaimada is hard to find unless I step inside Goldilocks bakery or a Filipino store that carries Goldilocks bake products. Bakery ensaimada is like a sponge cake with cheese, butter, and sugar on top, wrap individually in a cellophane with a logo. This is what ensaimada looks like to me. I am familiar with another version of ensaimada, Mulach ensaimada, which my friends brought from Canada. Mulach ensaimada is more tastier, probably more eggs and butter than Goldilocks ensaimada.

On a post on traditional ensaimada by Marketmanila and an episode from Jose Made in Spain, I pondered upon my recollection of eating original ensaimada if I had any. I remember my mom used to bring me ensaimada as pasalubong (to go food). This ensaimada is like bread but flaky. Ensaimada is well browned on the outside with a hard crust, smothered in margarine, sugar, and cheese.

Last week I tried to imitate traditional ensaimada. I am happy with the turn out. I got the taste right. The texture is much flakier than expected due to folding and rolling of the dough and addition of cold butter. This recipe is a combination of ensaimada and croissant. It is buttery but not too airy like croissant. One ensaimada is filling and a good portion for breakfast.

I began proofing the yeast for this recipe the day before I baked it. If I were to time how long to make ensaimada, I would say at least 20 hours. I did not rush the process after all baking is a premeditative method of art. I proofed yeast in 70 degrees F temperature. When I left my kitchen and turned off the heater, I put the oven in warm for a few minutes and continued proofing the dough inside the warm oven. The temperature inside the oven was between 80-90 degrees F. The warmer the temperature the faster the dough rises. Warm is better than cold.

About the ingredients, I used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour in this recipe. I have been using whole wheat flour when baking because its healthy and good for the body. Some say to use 7/8 c of whole wheat flour for every cup of all purpose flour. Others say the substitution is 1 is to 1. How much to use and substitute is upon the baker's discretion. The addition of sugar in this recipe leaves the dough with a slight sweet taste but not overpowering other ingredients such as eggs and milk. Also, I used lots of cold butter to produce flaky texture and buttery taste. Cold butter in the oven creates pockets inside the dough that retains its shape as it bakes, creating flaky texture. Lots of butter gives unforgettable rich taste of croissant like bread.

Aside from the above credits, I also studied Joy of Cooking. I owe baking techniques from this wonderful book.

Here's what I developed:

2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1/3 c. warm water 100 F

Let stand five minutes until yeast has expanded.

Add 3/4 c. all purpose flour

Let rise for 6 hours at approximately 70-80 degrees F.

Add and mix for 5 minutes:
1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
3 eggs
3 tb sugar
2 tb milk
1 tsp salt

When consistency slowly pulls away from the bowl knead for 7 minutes with a dough hook or 15 minutes by hand. ( I kneaded by hand just for the experience.)
Then transfer to an oiled bowl and let proof for 1-4 hours or until doubled in size.
Add 12 tb cold butter in cubes. Remember to use cold butter so ensaimada turns out flaky. Try to retain the shape of cubed butter. Like I mentioned, solid cubed butter produces pockets for flaky crust. So butter would not melt, put in fridge for 6-9 hours. To shape the dough, roll like a log about 20 inches long and 1 inch diameter and into a spiral with spaces in between each turn. Place on greased baking sheet and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure room temperature is within 70-80 degrees, you don't want to melt the butter just yet. (picture below taken after 1 hour resting period.) Remove plastic before baking.

Bake in preheated 375 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
I would say that they were pretty squished in here. I did not realize how much space they needed to rise after I shaped them into spirals. So leave a lot of room for yeast expanding.I skipped the cheese only because I feel this recipe is too rich in butter and sugar that I could omit the addition of another dairy. If I were to make this recipe diet friendly, I would reduce the amount of butter into 6 tbsp and add 3 tb veg/olive oil, however compromising the texture of ensaimada but not totally omitting butter. I would not spread butter and sprinkle sugar on top of the baked product. I like this recipe and I think I'll bake it again using low fat recipe.

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