Finally I baked my own ensaymada, the Filipino sweet bread that taste like brioche, that is topped with creamed butter and sugar. When I was growing up in a small town, we did not snack on ensaymadas. Our merienda (snacks) was boiled or fried bananas, corn, boiled cassava or sweet potatoes, sometimes freshly dug peanuts, and the Cebuano binignit.
Binignit, is banana, yam and other tubers cooked with coconut milk.
Having baked goods for snacks was too posh for a kid like me, who grew up in a place full of coconuts, bananas, corn, cassava and yams.
But I was exposed to another kind of merienda when we would spend school holidays at the capital to be with my mother’s family.
In Manila, our merienda was completely different. I remember it well my grandmother would send me to the bakery to buy monay (another sweet bread), ensaymada, pan de Sal and a 100 grams of butter or margarine.
For you non Filipino readers in the Philippines you donâ€™t need to buy a block of butter, you can get say 100grams at small stores or at bakeries.
For years I have not eaten ensaymada, to think we have left the country in 1984.
In summer of 1999 my work took me to Palma, Mallorca, Spain.
I was walking in town when I saw a familiar shape of bread. It was ensaymada, am not surprised if I found it in Spain.
Ah the Spanish influence on Filipino food. Read more about it here…
It was scrumptious.
Since then I have bought ensaymada in UK, France and here in Athens.
But its always too dry, too flat, too chemical tasting, too yellow.
What finally pushed me to bake was I had enough of yucky ensaymadas. Last week I was in Ambelokipi,
(part of Athens where most Filipinos reside). There are 2 kinds of ensaymada there. The Goldilocks, which has travelled a thousand miles , thank you very much.
The grated cheese looked so sad.
Goldilocks by the way is a bakery chain in the Philippines and some shops here import their products.
And the one locally baked but in commercial scale.
After a bite, I gave up. It was so yellow (colouring??? ) so dense (did they proof the dough) and the you can a strong smell of yeast. Argh I really wasted 4â‚¬!!!
So armed with curiosity with a sense of adventure for trial and errors, I dug archives of fellow foodies blogs.
The recipe at The Scent of Green Bananas is easy to follow and her photos just told me â€œam the recipe you want!â€
I made 2 kinds. The small ones were just topped with creamed butter and dusted with sugar.
The bigger ones, I flattened them, added grated Gouda and butter, then coiled.
The cheese was incorporated into the dough.
As soon they came out I made tea, cooled down 2 pieces so I could add butter and sugar.
But the one with cheese, I added grated cheese immediately so they melted a bit.
The sharpness of the Gouda goes well with the bread.
I savoured the bread with a huge grin on my face.
No preservatives, no colouring, not margarine but real butter.
Mine was rich, light and has a great texture, the way a ensaymada should be.
Thank you Santos