|Sure, there are three
steps, but the first step is
easy and the last two
steps don't require any
work at all!
March 31, 2012
Ensaimadas predate most other modern pastries, originating on the Spanish
Mediterranean island of Majorca in the 17th century. The traditional dough
is pretty conventional, with some sugar and eggs, but is then slathered with
pork lard. Dough is rolled out in a circle, brushed with lard (or butter),
rolled up and shaped into a snail. Variations include the use of butter
instead of lard (popular in the Philippines), and fillings such as pumpkin,
cream or chocolate. A well made ensaimada offers the palate the texture of
fat layering between dough, reminiscent of Danish or a croissant. As with
many pastries, whole grain variations add a richness and nutty flavor that
make the pastry even better. Using my spelt pastry dough makes for an
exceptional ensaimada. Since I am partial to all things chocolate, I tend to
make the chocolate version.
Though frowned upon in modern culinary circles, lard can add a unique
flavor to breads and pastries and is not known to be any more unhealthy
than other saturated fats. I think the main problem with lard these days is
that the commercially produced lard found in supermarkets is over-refined
and loses some of the flavor and richness that the old hand rendered lards
used to lend to breads.
Start your ensaimadas by mixing up the chosen pastry dough several hours
before shaping the pastries and refrigerating it until ready to use. As with
any pastry, using refrigerated dough makes the rolling and shaping much
easier. If I’m serving ensaimadas on Saturday morning, I’ll typically mix
the dough up Thursday night or Friday morning. I’ll keep the dough
refrigerated until I roll out the dough and make the pastries Friday night.
Once the pastries are shaped and placed on baking sheets, I’ll cover the
sheets with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Saturday morning I’ll
pull the pastries out of the refrigerator while the oven warms up then
proceed with the baking. What better excuse could you have to buy lard?
These pastries are a favorite on the Spanish Mediterranean island of
Majorcan, and typically are a larger 12 inch or so roll. I resized the rolls in
this recipe to make individual servings. For families with vegetarians,
melted butter can be substituted for the lard with only a slight change in
flavor (the Philippian version uses butter on a routine basis). Use the
ensaimada dough or a whole grain dough for the recipe.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half if making a
double batch. On a floured surface, fold the dough a few times, then divide
the single batch into twelve equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round
roll, then use a roller to flatten each piece out into a very thin circle, about
1/8 inch thick and 8” or so in diameter.
Brush the circle generously with the softened lard, then fill with filling
(chocolate chips, pumpkin, or cream, if desired). Roll each circle up like
one would roll a soft tortilla, then extend its length by rolling it out more
with your hands, until the length is 16" or so.
Bend each rolled up circle into a loose spiral, leaving a bit of space between
the spirals for dough expansion. Place each spiral on a baking sheet
covered with parchment and brush again with softened lard, then cover
loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for about an
hour or place in the refrigerator and allow to rise for 8-24 hours.
Remove the pastries from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 450
degrees. Place the pastries in the oven and turn the oven down to 400
degrees. Bake for 16-18 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a wire
rack to cool for about 5 minutes then coat with powdered or granulated
sugar. Serve while still warm.