Ensaimada reminds me of Christmas. This is one my favorite Filipino holiday food. This however is not soley served or available during the holiday season. You can buy this anytime anywhere back home in Manila. It’s just one of those gifts that almost everyone receives and enjoys the most.

My standard for the best ensaimada is the one sold at The Peninsula Manila Bakery. I discovered this during the late 80’s as this was my go to place for artisan or whole grain breads, they have the best selection then. Mind you this was a time when it’s hard to find decent stores that carry artisan or good quality breads. They have humongous size ensaimada that is covered with sugar and grated edam cheese and comes in two varieties: regular and ham. The ham was my favorite since it has generous ham pieces baked in the ensaimada. Sadly during a visit to Manila in 2013, I discovered that they don’t make it like they used to and the size significantly became smaller.

I researched the best recipe that would recreate the ensaimada closest to the one I remember from Manila Pen.

I got this recipe awhile back, I just can’t remember where so forgive me if I don’t have any credit/source for it.

2 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup lukewarm evaporated milk

Measure into bowl lukewarm water. Sprinle yeast over water. Stir until dissolved. Stir in lukewarm evaporated milk, sugar and flour. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. Cover bowl with a clean towel. Set the bowl into a pan of warm water until the mixture doubles in size (about 20-25 minutes).

5 egg yolks(plus 1 egg white), beaten
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar

Mix the beaten yolks, sugar and flour. Beat well. Add to the above mixture. Knead and shape into a ball. Cover and let rise again in a pan of warm water until double in bulk (30-40minutes).


5 egg yolks (plus 1 egg white) beaten
3/4 cup creamed butter
2 cups bread flour
1/2 sugar
2 cups grated edam or gouda cheese

When above dough is double in volume, add beaten egg yolks and white sugar, flour and creamed butter. Mix. Place in a greased board. Knead until satiny and smooth (about 10 minutes). Shape into smooth ball. Place ball of dough into greased bowl. Cover and let rise double in size (40-60 minutes). Punch down. Divide the dough into seperate pieces. Roll each piece thinly on a greased board. Spread butter and sprinkle grated cheese on rolled out dough. Starting from one end twist to form a cone. Grease molds and put in the twisted dough. Cover and let rise in a pan of warm water until dough has doubled (about 40-60 minutes. Remove from baking molds and let cool for 5 minutes. Top with creamed butter, sugar and grated cheese(if preferred sprinkle with more sugar).

Bake at 375F

Note: I let my dough rise by placing it inside the middle rack of oven with the pilot light on and a bowl of warm water below it

This recipe gives a bread like ensaimada that is dense and not the soft kind that is very popular nowadays. You could say this is the more traditional kind of ensaimada which I personally prefer. I only bake this during the Christmas season since this is really time consuming to make but well worth it.