The Mallorcan ensaimada

The ensaimada is one of the best known and most representative sweets of the island of Mallorca. Its name comes from the Mallorcan word saïm (lard), a key ingredient in the traditional recipe.

Although the ensaimada is indisputably Mallorcan, its roots can be traced back to the Arab occupation of the island, which lasted from approximately 902 to 1229. During this period, the Arabs introduced numerous culinary techniques and ingredients that still survive in Mallorcan gastronomy. Some believe that the ensaimada may have evolved from an Arab sweet of the time, although there is no concrete evidence to support this theory.

However, the first documented record of the ensaimada does not appear until the 17th century. It is mentioned in the writings of a Franciscan friar named Juan Amengual, who describes it as a popular food at festivals and celebrations.

The ensaimada is traditionally made with wheat flour, water, sugar, eggs, sourdough and lard. The dough is worked until it is very thin, then spread with lard and rolled into the characteristic spiral shape. After being baked, it is covered with powdered sugar.

Although the simplest and most traditional version is the “llisa” ensaimada (plain, without filling), there are also versions filled with various ingredients, such as angel hair (a sweet made with pumpkin fiber), pastry cream and even sobrasada, a typical Mallorcan sausage.

Ensaimadas are an essential component in Mallorcan celebrations and festivities, and a popular gift to take when visiting friends or relatives. They are also exported all over the world, allowing people from all over to enjoy this sweet so representative of Mallorca.

La ensaimada mallorquina, un placer gastronómico

Flavors of the Mallorcan ensaimada

The classic Mallorcan ensaimada has no filling, its flavor is a simple but delicious combination of flour, sugar, eggs, water and lard. However, there are also variations of ensaimadas that include fillings or toppings. Some of the most common flavors include:

Ensaimada de cabello de ángel: Filled with “angel hair”, which is a kind of jam made from the pulp of certain varieties of pumpkin.

Ensaimada de crema: Filled with pastry cream.

Chocolate ensaimada: It can be filled with chocolate or have a chocolate coating on top.

Almond ensaimada: Covered with sliced almonds and powdered sugar.

Ensaimada of sobrasada and honey: A very Mallorcan combination, it combines the sweetness of honey with the intense flavor of sobrasada.

Ensaimada with cream: Filled with whipped cream.

Fig ensaimada:This version of ensaimada can be filled with fresh figs or a kind of fig jam or jam. Figs are a common fruit in Mallorca and are used in a variety of culinary preparations, both sweet and savory. This ensaimada might be more common during fig season, which is usually in late summer and early autumn.

Ensaimada de Tajadas (or Ensaimada de Carnaval): This is a very special version of the ensaimada that is prepared during the Carnival season in Mallorca. It is called “de tajadas” because it includes slices or pieces of caramelized pumpkin. The pumpkin is cooked in a syrup until it caramelizes, which gives it a sweet flavor and a crystalline texture.

What really distinguishes this ensaimada, besides the caramelized pumpkin, is the inclusion of sobrasada, a typical Mallorcan sausage made from pork, paprika and spices. This sausage provides a salty flavor contrast that perfectly complements the sweetness of the pumpkin and the ensaimada itself.

This variant is a true reflection of Mallorcan gastronomy, combining traditional ingredients from the island in a recipe that is unique to a specific time of year. Although it may seem an unusual combination, the mixture of sweet and savory is what makes this ensaimada so special and appreciated.

Ensaimada de tajadas (esaimada de tallades) recién salida del horno

How are Mallorcan ensaimadas made?

Making a Mallorcan ensaimada requires patience and practice, as the recipe involves a fermentation process and the technique for forming the characteristic spiral can be a bit tricky. This is the basic recipe for the ensaimada:

Ingredients

500 grams of strong flour

175 grams of sugar

175 ml of water

15 grams of fresh yeast

2 eggs

75 grams of lard

Powdered sugar for decoration

Steps:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water
  2. Mix in a large bowl the flour and sugar. Make a well in the center and add the dissolved yeast and eggs. Mix everything until you get a dough.
  3. Mix the dough.
  4. Knead for about 10-15 minutes until a smooth and elastic dough. Then add the lard and continue to knead until it is completely incorporated.
  5. Cover the bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and let the dough rest in a warm place for at least two hours, or until it has doubled in size.
  7. Knead the dough again to remove the air. Then divide the dough into portions (depending on how many ensaimadas you want to make) and form each portion into a long thin cylinder.
  8. Divide the dough into portions (depending on how many ensaimadas you want to make) and form each portion into a long thin cylinder.
  9. Lightly grease the work surface and stretch each dough cylinder until it is as thin as possible. Then, roll it up on itself to form a spiral.
  10. Place the dough spirals on a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving enough space between them so they can expand.
  11. Place the dough spirals on a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving enough space between them so they can expand.
  12. Let the ensaimadas rest in a warm place for about two hours, or until they double in size.
  13. Preheat the dough spirals in the oven.
  14. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake the ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  15. Bake the ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  16. Let the ensaimadas cool on the tray for a few minutes, then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Venta de ensaimadas mallorquinas

Where to buy ensaimada?

There are many bakeries and pastry shops in Mallorca where you can buy ensaimadas, both in Palma, the capital, and in the smaller towns of the island. Here are some recommended places:

Fornet de la Soca: This pastry shop located in Palma is famous for its traditional cakes and breads, including ensaimadas.

Pasteleria Pomar: With several locations on the island, this pastry shop is known for its excellent ensaimada.

Pastisseria Real: Located in Palma, it is famous for its plain, unfilled ensaimada, although it also offers other varieties.

Forn Fondo: This establishment is famous for its ensaimadas and other bakery and pastry delights.

Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo: With more than 300 years of history, it is one of the oldest and best known places to buy ensaimadas in Palma.

Remember that ensaimadas are a very traditional product and each place may have its own version, so you may want to try a few to find your favorite. In addition, many of these establishments also offer the option of sending ensaimadas to other places, in case you want to enjoy this delicious delicacy once you have left the island.

Remember that ensaimadas are a very traditional product and each place may have its own version, so you may want to try a few to find your favorite. In addition, many of these establishments also offer the option of sending ensaimadas to other places, in case you want to enjoy this delicious delicacy once you have left the island.
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