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Ensaimada 3.jpg
Place of origin Spain
Region or state Balearic Islands
Dish details
Course served Pastry
Serving temperature Cold
Main ingredient(s) Pastry

The Ensaïmada is a pastry product with great tradition on Majorca, which has been continuously made and eaten on the island for a very long time. The first written references to the Majorcan ensaïmada date back to the 17th century. At that time, although wheat flour was mainly used for making bread, there is evidence that this typical pastry product was made for festivals and celebrations.

The "ensaïmada de Mallorca" is made with strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough and pork lard. The handmade character of the product makes it difficult to give an exact formula, so scales have been established defining the proportion of each ingredient, giving rise to an excellent quality traditional product. The name comes from the Mallorquí word "saïm" (taken from Arabic), which means pork lard.

A lot of variants of the ensaïmada exists, mainly adding some extra ingredient. The most common of them are:

  • Llisa (translated from Mallorquí as plain) with no extra ingredient.
  • Cabell d'àngel (translated from Mallorquí as angel's hair), the stringy orange strands found inside pumpkins are cooked with sugar to make a sweet filling that is rolled inside the dough.
  • Tallades (translated from Mallorquí as slices) covered with Sobrasada and pumpkin, obtaining a bittersweet taste. It is typical of Lent days.
  • Filled with sweet cream, chocolate or turrón paste.
  • Covered with apricot.

Ensaïmades outside the Balearic Islands of Spain usually taste very different, mainly because pork lard is not used outside the Islands. To tell whether pork lard has been used, if one can't tell by taste, a true ensaïmada must stain a piece of paper with the pork lard (which when heated has a similar texture to oil).

In the Philippines, a Spanish colony for nearly 400 years, the Majorcan ensaïmada (commonly spelled ensaymada in Tagalog) has evolved over the centuries. There, the ensaymada is a brioche made with butter instead of lard, and topped with grated cheese (usually aged Edam, known locally as "queso de bola") and sugar. Upscale versions of ensaymada are also topped with butter cream. It is extremely popular throughout the islands, especially during the Christmas season, when it is often, although not always, eaten with hot chocolate.

In Puerto Rico, another Spanish colony until 1898, the ensaïmada is called a mallorca and is traditionally eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

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