Ensaimada, or Majorca's sweet bread, is a delightfully light and airy traditional pastry that dates back to the 17Th century. A delicate bread is a culinary gem that identifies Majorca's cuisine. I have never been fortunate to travel throughout Spain, but often travel to great destinations through baking. This weekend I happened to come across a culinary program that was featuring the cuisine of the Balearic Islands in Spain, the show was on PBS, and our guide went into a bakery to show the viewers this incredible treat. I was in awe. The shop was full of gigantic spirals of bread dusted with sugar, racks of ensaimada looked so beautiful in their simplicity, packaged in an octagon box with string, I knew my next baking mission would be ensaimada.
Every recipe I read discussed the pastries difficulty. Not to be deterred by the opinion of someone I do not know, I decided to follow through with my challenge. Honestly, I think that this is so simple to make. Perhaps the television host and a few writers are attempting to place fear in you so that instead of baking your own ensaimada you will travel to Majorca. Obviously a ploy by Spain's travel bureau. I encourage you to try, it is a beautiful recipe and a true delight.
The Recipe (Thank you Spain Recipes)
4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
Melted butter for brushing
Powdered sugar for dusting
Dissolve yeast in the warm milk and set aside
Combine sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour and warm milk mixture. Add eggs and olive oil. Knead until soft and well blended.
Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in volume.
Knead the dough again. Place on a flat surface to roll dough out as thin as possible. Smooth entire surface of the dough with the softened butter. Roll up the dough, much like if you were rolling up a poster. When dough is rolled up allow it to rise for about an hour.
After the dough has rested for about an hour, prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Coil the dough so that it resembles a snail. There should be about 1/2-to 1 inch space between the coils to allow for rising. Cover with a damp dishtowel and allow to rise for about 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Brush the surface with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar.
Slice and serve.