Ensaymada are soft Filipino coiled sweet bread rolls topped with butter, sugar and grated cheese.
This Ensaymada recipe is easy but requires some time to make. Dough is set aside to rest and rise for a few hours before baking.
The Philippines was colonized by Spain for over 300 years, with that said, we have adapted many Spanish cuisine. One of these is Ensaymada or Ensaimada as they call it which originated in Mallorca Spain. Overtime, we came up with our own adaptation by topping it with butter, sugar and cheese.
These sweet bread rolls are well loved by Filipinos and mostly eaten as snack. It is sold in most bakeries in the Philippines. Some are rich and fluffy with buttercream and cheese while others are less buttery with drier consistency and texture.
During the early days, Filipino stores in the US got ensaymada from bakeries in California. When I moved to a different state, I can only have this when I visited San Diego and brought back home a tray of these delicious Filipino sweet rolls.
In 2005, I had an inkling to make it but can’t find the recipes my mom send me over the years. I was determined that I googled it. There was one recipe at that time from a Hawaiian – Asian newsletter.
I made it many times but the recipe was not fool proof. I tweaked the measurements but was not successful. The 1st and 2nd time I made it, I ate the rolls.
In my hopes of getting it right, I was making it every weekend and if the texture was not right, it end up in the trash can. It was wasteful but the ingredients were cheap anyway. Then, I finally gave up and hoping to find my mom’s recipe.
How to Make Ensaymada
My ensaymada recipe instructions are very detailed – Step by Step. Just like myself, I bake but I don’t consider myself a baker.
These detailed instructions will be helpful to people like me or first time bakers who has cravings for these delicious sweet rolls.
Ingredients for Ensaymada Recipe
One thing I love about this delicious ensaymada recipe, it uses basic ingredients. It is bread but in a way it can be categorize as pastry too.
Another reason to love this ensaymada recipe, you can use the same dough recipe to make cinnabon or cinnamon. You can make them at the same. How awesome is that!
(1) Prepare all your ingredients.
(a) Yeast – check to see if it is active.
(b) All-purpose flour – spoon, level and sift. Please don’t dunk your measuring cup in flour bag. You will end up with a very dense mixture.
(c) Egg yolk – room temperature.
(c) Butter – soften in room temperature.
(d) Milk – use whole milk.
(e) Granulated Sugar & Powdered Sugar – you can control the amount of buttercream or sugar topping.
(f) Grated Cheese – To make special Ensaymada, it is common to use Keso De Bola in the Philippines. Use gouda, edam, cheddar or your favorite cheese. You can use packaged shredded cheese but I prefer to use freshly grated cheese.
Over the years, my love for keso de bola has changed. I don’t know if it’s the cheese or my taste buds has changed.
For years, I got the Rembrandt Extra Aged Gouda at Costco which was discontinued. I was so disappointed. I finally found another one to replace it, Beemster Premium Dutch Cheese – Black Label Gouda. Both cheese are made in Holland.
I am a huge cheese lover and I usually eat it on its own.
(2) As much as possible, don’t use expired yeast unless it was stored in the freezer. Yeast is use as leavening to make dough rise.
I prefer to use a packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) of Dry Active Yeast. Yeast is mixed with lukewarm water and sugar, set aside for 10 minutes to activate it. Water temperature should be 110 - 115 degrees F.
Place water in microwave for 10 seconds then 5 seconds increment about 15 to 20 seconds. It should be warm to touch that doesn’t burn your finger.
Note: If liquid is TOO HOT, it will kill the yeast.
You can use instant rapid yeast and add it directly to ingredients but make sure it is not expired.
The benefit of using active-dry yeast is that by blooming it in lukewarm water, you can tell if it is alive. If you add rapid instant yeast to your ingredients, there is no way to know if it is alive. If not, you just wasted all the ingredients.
Where to Rest and Rise Dough – Do this before you start making your dough
(3) This step is optional. If your house has centralized a/c or it is cold in your house, the best place to rest and rise dough is in the oven with the door shut. Fill a medium pot with water half full and boil.
At the same time, set oven to its lowest temperature of 170 degrees F for 4 minutes. When done, place uncovered pot of boiling water in oven. This will create a warm temperature for your dough to rise.
Otherwise, dough can stay in room temperature in a warmer area in your house covered with cloth.
Make Ensaymada Dough
(4) When yeast is ready, combine bloomed yeast, egg yolk, sugar, salt, butter and ½ cup milk in stand mixer with whisk attachment at lower speed (#2 KitchenAid) for about 2 minutes.
Change whisk to dough hook attachment. Add flour in 3 batches and remaining milk. While adding flour, set speed to low (#2) then adjust to medium (#4 - #6). Every time you add flour, scrape the sides and bottom of mixer. This process takes about 5 minutes. Do not overwork the dough.
Dough will get very sticky. It will slightly pull away from the side of mixer but still sticky with some dough sticking at the bottom of mixer.
Once flour is fully incorporated in mixture, lightly flour spatula and your hands and detach dough from mixer. Flip mixer bowl upside down until dough falls. Form dough into a ball and transfer to a floured or greased bowl covered with cloth. Place in room temperature or in oven. If placed in oven, no need to cover bowl.
(5) Proof or prove the dough for 1 ½ - 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. Look through your oven glass door and see dough rising quickly. If yeast is active and you have dough in a warm place, you will not have any issue rising it.
Like I said, it is easy to make ensaymada but proofing the dough takes a while.
(6) Once dough has doubled in size. Punch down dough with fist to deflate or it will release air on its own once you remove dough with spatula from bowl. Again, lightly flour the spatula, working area, rolling pin, cutter and your hands.
Once dough is in working area, no need to knead. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon flour on dough surface for easy handling. Avoid adding too much flour to dough. Shape it evenly into a log. Cut dough into 3 pieces, then divide each piece into 6. This recipe yields 18 medium sized ensaymada.
Note: You can use a kitchen scale, I don’t. If it helps, use a ruler.
(7) Use a floured rolling pin, flatten dough with hand and roll out into a rectangle (8 inches x 4 inches). Lightly brush surface with butter. Add grated cheese in the middle, if you like but optional. Make sure cheese doesn’t stick out the edges as it will burn when baked.
Roll dough into a log then coil tucking ends in the middle. Place in a lightly greased mold. If using non-stick mold, no need to grease. If using a paper liner, grease with butter.
Note: You can also use a baking pan and line up your ensaymada rolls with space in between.
Just like some commercial ensaymada, you don’t need to coil it. Form dough into a log, flatten and brush surface with butter. Roll dough into a log, divide into pieces and place in mold or baking pan.
(8) While coiling dough, boil water in pot and place in the oven. Once all rolls are done, place mold in oven or in room temperature for 1 hour. It will rise a bit. For super soft and fluffy dough, it requires a total of 3 hours proofing the dough. Remove mold from oven.
(9) Preheat oven and bake at 350 degrees F between 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
(10) As soon as you can, remove rolls in mold and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
How to Apply Topping on Ensaymada
(11) (a) Brush top of ensaymada with soften butter, sprinkle some granulated white sugar then top with cheese.
(b) The other option is buttercream. Cream equal portions of soften butter and powdered sugar. Brush top of ensaymada with buttercream then sprinkle with grated cheese.
Note: You don’t have to apply topping right away. You can do it when you are ready to eat it.
(1) If you don’t own a stand mixer, knead the dough but it is very sticky. Flour your hands but don’t add too much flour to dough.
I have an 8 cup Cuisinart food processor and I have used it to combine ingredients to make ONLY ½ of the recipe. It cannot handle the full recipe. Once combined, I knead the dough for a few minutes.
(2) To save time, I have left butter to soften in room temperature overnight.
(3) I have to agree with my mom. After storing ensaymada after two days in a sealed container in room temperature, ensaymada made with butter is drier than one made with shortening. But the one with shortening seems denser. So it’s up to you to decide, experiment with both and see what works best for your taste.
During the early days (my grandparents time) pork lard and shortening were used to make ensaymada dough. It was easily accessible to them and cheaper while margarine or butter was used as topping.
Now a days, most people use butter as it is widely available and no longer pricey.
Note: My mom’s recipe calls for shortening and 5 egg yolks. I have switched to butter and reduce egg yolk to 4.
(4) I prefer to make these Filipino sweet bread rolls with all-purpose flour as it yields super soft and fluffier rolls but if you have bread flour that will expire soon and would like to use it, swap 1 cup of all-purpose flour to 1 cup bread flour and add 1 more egg yolk.
Bread flour is denser than all-purpose flour.
Try Other Delicious Bread Recipe
Super Soft Ensaymada Recipe
- 1 packet active dry yeast 2 ¼ teaspoons
- ¼ cup water lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Ensaymada Dough Ingredients
- 1/3 cup butter soften (can be replaced with shortening)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg yolk room temperature
- 4 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- ¾ cup butter soften
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup cheese grated
Extra flour for Hands and Kitchen Tools
- 2 – 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Activate yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl with whisk attachment, combine soften butter, sugar, ½ cup milk, salt, egg yolk and activated yeast. Whisk at low speed (KitchenAid #2) for 2 minutes.
- Replace whisk attachment with dough hook. Add flour in 3 batches.
- Add 1st batch of flour and beat at low speed (#2) until combined. Scrape the sides of mixing bowl, add the 2nd batch of flour and the remaining ½ cup of milk. Beat until combined at low speed. Scrape again the sides and add the last batch of flour, beat at low speed until combined. Adjust the speed to medium (KitchenAid between #4 to #6 speed) beat until well incorporated. This process will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Don’t overwork the dough.
- Dough will be sticky. Once dough starts to clump up on dough hook and pulls away slightly from the sides, flour spatula and hands. Remove dough and form into a ball.
- Transfer dough in a floured (1/2 teaspoon flour) or greased bowl covered with cloth.
- Rest and rise dough at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until it doubled in size.
- Note: I proof dough in oven. Before mixing the dough, I boil water in a medium pot half full and I turn the oven to the lowest setting of 170 degrees F for 4 minutes. When done, place pot in oven with door shut. This will create a warm environment for dough to rise. This is best done when your house has centralized a/c or cold in the house. No need to cover bowl.
- Lightly flour spatula, hands, work area, rolling pin and cutter. Avoid adding too much flour in dough. Remove dough from bowl using spatula. It will deflate on its own without punching the dough.
- Place dough in floured working area. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon flour on top of dough for easy handling. Watch my video (coming soon) to see how I do it.
- Form dough into a log, divide into 3 pieces. Cut each piece into 6 rolls a total of 18 rolls.
- Use a floured rolling pin, take a dough and roll out the piece into 8 inch x 4 inch rectangle. Lightly brush surface with soften butter.
- Roll dough from it widest area into a log, coil and tuck the ends in the middle.
- Place each roll in a greased ensaymada mold. No need to grease non-stick mold.
- Let it rise in room temperature or place mold in oven with oven door shut for 1 hour to rise. Note: Pot of boiling water should be in oven.
- If you are using oven to rise dough, remove mold from oven.
- Preheat oven and bake at 350 degrees F between 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
- Remove ensaymada from mold as soon as possible and transfer to a wire rack to completely cool.
- Prepare buttercream. Combine soften butter and powdered sugar. Brush top of ensaymada with buttercream and sprinkle grated cheese. Or you can spread soften butter on top of ensaymada, sprinkle some granulated sugar and grated cheese.
- If house is cool, store ensaymada in a sealed container up to 2 to 3 days in room temperature then transfer to fridge. Enjoy!