Ensaymada journey-A A +A
Friday, January 18, 2013
IN ANY corner bakeshop in the country, there is bound to be ensaimada, a sugar-sprinkled bread that came to the country from Spain. Wikipedia says that the bread comes from Mallorca and is “made with strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough and a kind of reduced pork lard named saim,” from which it got its name. It is found in many countries and with many variants, with fillings like apricot, chocolate and cream.
The Philippine version no longer uses mother dough or pork lard. And upscale and home bakeshops have made a creamier, softer version. It is one of the best-selling items in the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel cake counter.
The hotel’s pastry chef, Rodel Galvez, said that the hotel always had it in its banquet menu, but in a small version. When he became the hotel pastry chef in March 2009, he changed the recipe and made the small version available at the hotel’s Café Marco buffets. When the hotel set up a cake counter at the Lobby Lounge in November of that year, he made the bigger version available for it. The basic recipe, he says, consists of “egg yolks, fresh milk, refined sugar and all-purpose flour.” No water, he adds, just fresh milk. The hotel version is topped—actually smothered—with shredded cheese (local cheddar, he emphasizes).
A month later, he introduced the ube (using ube haliya) and mango (using fresh made mango jam) versions. All versions became instant hits, with hotel guests bringing it back with them as pasalubong. The demand became greater when the hotel introduced a special packaging for it: a sturdy, reusable box.
Last December, F&B manager Stephan Wieprich asked chef Galvez to make something festive for Christmas. That was when he came up with the Christmas ensaimada, using glazed fruits, lemon peel, raisins, marzipan and cinnamon and ginger powder. It was a Filipino-tasting ensaimada with a European scent.
According to Stephan, the hotel sold more than 5,000 ensaimadas (all the versions) during the Christmas season. And for Sinulog, he asked Galvez again to come up with something festive, and presto! Galvez has come up with the fiesta ensaimada, a really festive version with macapuno, red and green kaong, strips of young coconut, sweet corn kernels, coated with butter cream, refined sugar and grated local cheddar cheese.
It not only looks festive, it is truly yummy and Filipino.
The ensaimada has really evolved into various delectable versions, not only in Marco Polo, but also in other specialty bakeshops, which have refined the plain version of the ensaimada. Whichever version you take, refined or plain, just enjoy a bakery product with a history!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 19, 2013.