Friday, 20 July 2012


... if you've ever been to Mallorca you will most definitely have seen many a tourist and the occasional teary-eyed abuela carrying a large, most often hexagonal shaped, flat box... no, this doesn't contain the thinnest hat in the world, it holds what can only be described as the most glorious Mallorcan treasure - the ensaimada... a traditional sweet baked, spiral-shaped bread that has a wonderfully light yet doughy texture a bit like a chubby croissant... they are delightful and although hailing from this small island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea they are now eaten across the entire Latin world...

a little time consuming but really not as difficult as it sounds to make... it's a really sticky dough though so watch out when kneading... be patient... it will come to you... tradition also states that you should use pork lard to make this recipe, which whilst I can imagine how incredible this would taste I just couldn't bring myself to do it... so have substituted butter instead, something i am told is most commonly used nowadays... i'm using the low-knead method here but you can just get stuck i and knead for 10 minutes instead...

8fl oz milk - warmed
4 teaspoons active dried yeast
20oz strong white bread flour
4oz sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs - beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
6oz butter - softened enough to brush with

- add the yeast to the warm milk and set aside for 5 minutes

- using a very large bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil and then pour on the milk and combine fully with a rubber spatula or your hands... once it's all together in a sticky shaggy mass cover with a tea-towel and set aside for 10 minutes

- after 10 minutes pour a small amount of olive oil onto your kneading surface and then scrape the sticky dough onto the oiled surface - very quickly pour a little oil into the bowl and swish it around the line the bowl with your kneading hand

- knead the dough 8 times, so that's: 8 times stretch / fold / turn and then plop the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes, repeat again 3 times.  By the second time you will already begin to feel how soft and airy the dough is and I promise you'll never go back to regular boring kneading again!

- after the 4th low-knead pop it somewhere cosy for an hour or until it has doubled in size

- flour your work-surface liberally and then roll out the dough as thinly as possible

- brush the entire surface of the dough with the softened butter and then roll it up like you'd roll a newspaper

- take a very large flat tray and roll the tube into a spiral shape so it resembles a snail shell then cover with a large bucket or similar - something that is much bigger than the rolled ensaimada - and let it rise for at least 4 hours

- remove the bucket and bake for 30 - 40 minutes on 160C or until golden and risen

- let it cool, then brush with butter and sprinkle with a generous cloud of icing sugar

as you can see mine didn't quite come out as a perfect spiral but what the heck... not bad for a first attempt and it's soft billowy lovelyness more than made up for an imperfect circle...

eat and of course, enjoy!



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