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How to Make Ensaymadas (Fluffy, Creamy, Cheesy Filipino Bread)

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Kerlyn loves to share her passion for Filipino food with others so that they too can delight in delicious Southeast Asian cuisine.

Talk about bread and Filipinos will think of round, soft, sugary, and rich ensaymadas, a popular Filipino bread that is so well-loved in the Philippines it can both be bought at neighborhood bakeries for ordinary folks and served at high-end restaurants for well-heeled patrons.

Yes, ensaymada can go from ordinary to extraordinary.

Either way, it tastes yummy!

Ensaymada Recipe

Preparation time: about 5 hours
Baking Time: about 20 minutes

Bread Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup plain butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon plain honey
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk (preferably full-cream)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened

Cheese Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cheese, Edam or queso de bola, grated
  • 1/2 cup white sugar


Notes before starting:

  • It is best to mix the dough the night before. That way, it will have ample time to proof.
  • Baking can take place the next morning.
  • To make other versions of ensaymada, you can replace the cheese in the dough with ham, sweet chorizo, ube paste, or macapuno filling.
  • Some alternatives to butter for the topping are buttercream, salted duck eggs, or even chocolate spread.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add water.
  2. Add in the honey.
  3. Add flour.
  4. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Add cheese.
  6. Mix everything thoroughly. It is best to use hands for this step.
  7. With the exception of the softened butter, add the rest of the ingredients.
  8. Knead for about five minutes. For this step, it is best to use a mixer turned at low speed.
  9. Transfer mixture to a bowl.
  10. Cover the bowl with plastic.
  11. Set aside for 1 1/2 hours.
  12. Punch down dough.
  13. Divide into servings weighing 60 grams (a little over two ounces).
  14. Roll each piece with a rolling pin.
  15. Pat the middle of each piece with softened butter.
  16. Close up the piece over the butter like an envelope, pinch long edges together, and roll it with your fingers into a rod shape.
  17. Coil each rod into a rounded snail shape (see the video below)
  18. Place each roll on a tray.
  19. Place in a refrigerator for eight hours or a warm room for four hours. If you have a proofer, then place the dough there for 1 1/2 hours.
  20. Preheat oven.
  21. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
  22. Remove from the oven.
  23. Cool.
  24. Pat with butter, sprinkle with sugar, and place grated cheese on top.
  25. Serve.
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You're done! Share and enjoy your homemade Philippine ensaymada with everyone!

Many Varieties

The classic ensaymada is usually made of swirled and baked sweetened dough, patted with butter or margarine, and sprinkled with sinful white sugar.

The out-of-the-ordinary ensaymada, on the other hand, might contain chocolate, or it might be stuffed with ube (purple yam paste), macapuno (syrupy coconut), or chorizo sausage, patted with buttercream, topped with ham and/or salted duck egg, and sprinkled generously with queso de bola or Edam cheese shreds.


Who Eats Ensaymadas?

Almost all Filipinos eat ensaymadas, because not only does it appeal to all income ranges, it appeals to all ages. Sweet-toothed Filipino kids adore sugared ensaymadas.

Filipinos who are past their sweet-loving phase prefer the more subdued taste of the cheesy, sweet-and-salty version of this Filipino bread.

Coffee goes well with ensaymada.

Coffee goes well with ensaymada.

When to Eat It

Whatever flavor they choose, Filipinos love to chomp ensaymada for merienda or mid-afternoon snacks. Since it is sweet and creamy, it is best paired with hot coffee or even plain water. Some push their sweetness threshold by eating it with hot chocolate or even soda.

Not only is this bread great for afternoon snacks, but it also makes for a well-thought-out pasalubong or homecoming gift. Traditionally, Filipinos return to their homes at night, or to their hometowns during holidays, toting a present, usually food, that everybody can share. Thus, ensaymadas in the Philippines are often individually packed and placed together in big boxes that can be trimmed with a band—much like a gift! In fact, ensaymada is a very popular gift, especially during the Philippine Christmas season.


Just like many other foods in the Philippine menu, ensaymada—although now made in a very Filipino way and suited to the Filipino palate—was originally a Spanish food. The bread called ensaimada or ensaymada originally comes from Majorca, Spain, but has spread throughout the Philippines and many places in South America.

© 2012 kerlynb

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