Holiday Pastries! Mallorcan Ensaïmades

As you might now be aware, I had a really great holiday on Mallorca…but there is just one little niggle…

…you see, they have a rather amazing-looking pastry over there – the ensaïmada – which is a sweet, enriched bread, formed into a coil and dusted with icing sugar. The problem? Well, they are made with a good lump of…lard.

Indeed, the clue is in the name – “saïm” is the local name for a type of reduced lard, so they translate roughly as “lard things”. So a case of “look, but don’t touch”.

For better or for worse, I found this out before I went, so of course, once I was out and about, the things were everywhere. Ensaïmades beckoning from every bakery, every café, every shop. Kids wandering the streets munching on the things. I was even handed one in the airport wine store as a souvenir. So it’s very, very lucky I have a will of iron.

Now firmly back in the UK, and with all the excitement of the Royal Wedding behind us, I decided that I would give these a try myself, but make a vegetarian version of them. So I’ve replaced the lard with butter and a bit of olive oil. So maybe not exactly healthy, but heck – I resisted for a week!

The process for making them is pretty easy and quite good fun, but it just takes a while. You start off making a dough, which I did by hand (and ended up with very sore arm muscles in the process). Once the dough has risen once, you knock it back, then roll out portions as thin as you can, brush with soft butter, then roll them up and form into spirals. I’ve done a little research, and I have concluded that lard probably works best, so if that’s your thing, then go for it. However, my butter version is still pretty darned nice, if not quite as flaky as the authentic Mallorcan version.

And the shaping process is also important – the dough needs to be as thin as possible, so when they bake, you get maximum puffiness and volume. And you need to let the rolled up dough rise first, then carefully coil it loosely afterwards – you really want the breads to be big but quite flat, rather than a round dome shape. Make sense?

Once they were kneaded, brushed, shaped and risen, they went into the oven, and emerged puffy and golden. I gave them a quick brush with more melted butter (yay!) and a dredging of icing sugar later, and they looked absolutely perfect.

But looks are not everything – finally I was going to get to taste an ensaïmada.

Happily, I can report that mine were delicious. Rich, slightly sweet and very, very buttery. The process for making them means that they are a delight to pull apart as you are eating them too, so perfect for people who are partial to playing with their food. I like to do that.

To make 12 ensaïmadas:

For the dough:

• 4 teaspoons dried yeast
• 240ml milk, boiled and cooled
• 100g white sugar
• 450g flour
• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 40ml olive oil
• 170g butter, softened

To finish the ensaïmades:

• 25g butter
• 50g icing sugar

To make the dough:

By hand: Combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons of white sugar and warm milk and allow to sit for 15 minutes until frothy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and remaining sugar. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and mix as much as you can (it will be very dry). Add the eggs and olive oil, and work until you have a smooth, soft, elastic dough (about 10 minutes). Once the dough is made, cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm until doubled in size (around 1 hour).

By machine: Combine the yeast, 2 tablespoons of white sugar and warm milk and allow to sit for 15 minutes until frothy. Put the yeast, flour, salt, remaining sugar, eggs and olive oil into the bread machine and run the dough cycle.

To form the ensaïmades:

Knock back the dough and knead again for a minute. Divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll each portion as thin as possible (as in – really, really thin). Brush each generously with softened butter. Roll up the dough (Swiss-roll style) and put on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and leave until doubled in size (around 1 hour).

Next, take each piece of rolled-up dough, and form into a loose coil (gaps will be filled when they rise again). Transfer each coil to a well-greased baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth or a piece of oiled cling film and leave until – you guessed – doubled in size.

To bake the ensaïmades:

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Put hot water in an ovenproof dish and put in the oven to create steam.

Bake the ensaïmades until they are golden brown (about 15 minutes). Once cooked, remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes, then brush lightly while still warm with melted butter and dredge with icing sugar.

Worth making? They might be a lot of work, but they are fun and taste really good. I will be making these again, more likely for a special occasion than for an everyday breakfast, but a nice way to bring a little Mallorcan sunshine to the early mornings. If you’re so minded, you can also change them with a dusting of cocoa powder in the filling, or add cinnamon or raisins.


Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

11 responses to “Holiday Pastries! Mallorcan Ensaïmades

  1. Pingback: Holiday Time – the Island of Mallorca | LondonEats

  2. Carina Claire

    These look amazing! Love the last picture – the dough still being rolled up inside the the ensaïmades…if that makes any sense 🙂 But do they bake fully through? I kind of hate soggy breads/cakes – like cinammon buns that aren’t cooked fully through in the middle….shudder…

    • Thanks Carina – you get that “rolled” effect from the liberal use of butter. And they do cook completely, as they go into a very hot oven. So don’t worry about an uncooked centre. If you’re making them, I hope they work out well.

  3. Those look delicious, and I bet they were much tastier than the ones in Mallorca! I worked there for a bit, and was so excited to try ensaimadas, but was bitterly disappointed with the icing sugar coated pig flavour. Must bookmark your recipe.

    • Thanks Mary – they were delicious, I think using the butter made them more like a breakfast pastry than all that lard (!). It was quite a bit of work to make them by hand, but they were worth the effort. If you’ve got a bread machine, then it’s even easier!

      (And i LOVE your personalised cookie stamp on your blog – wherever did you get that? It would make a great gift for a few people I know).

  4. Glauber Rocha

    Hello, thanks for the recipe. I’m doing them right now. Where does the sugar go? First or second bowl?

    • Eek, hope this reaches you in time! The 100g of white sugar goes in the first bowl with the yeast to get it going. Best of luck!

      • Glauber Rocha

        Thanks for your answer. That’s what I did but the dough didn’t raise as much as it should have (or too slowly). Then I read somewhere that if a the dough is very sweet it may hamper the raising process. Maybe the 100g sugar should be split between the 2 bowls… Anyway, they’re going to the oven just now.

        • That’s a very good point! If in doubt, I would add just a little sugar to the yeast, then put the rest into the flour. I’ll add a note to the recipe about this if that’s OK. Maybe the issue is the yeast? I used dried (but not instant) yeast, and I had a good result. Hope yours work out well.

  5. I have never made this because it has a lot of work, but I have tasted a autentic “ensaimada mayorquina” and it’s really yummy.

    • You’re right – these were A LOT of work! It is really the sort of thing to make at the weekend, when you have lots of time and can let them sit and rise in a warm place. I think they would work better with lard (as is traditional) but these versions were still pretty tasty.

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