Now’s the time that we’re all off on our summer holidays, which are sadly over way too quickly for my liking. One way to prolong that wonderful sunshine feeling is to bring a little bit of the local taste back with you. 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, 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 ensaïmada, 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, they are now eaten across the entire Latin world.
Although a little time-consuming it is really not all that difficult 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 these recipes. 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.
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. Next turn the dough onto a well oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and manageable.
Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with cling-film and set aside for an hour, or until doubled in size.
After an hour, flour your work surface and rolling pin 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 ensaïmada – 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 loveliness more than made up for an imperfect circle.
Eat and of course, enjoy and don’t forget to follow Dominic on his blog www.belleaukitchen.com