Home RecipesBreads Ensaymada (Filipino Sweet and Buttery Rolls)

Ensaymada (Filipino Sweet and Buttery Rolls)

by Paula

I return, my dear readers, from the abyss (aka work), armed with a recipe for the popular ensaymada.

Ensaymada is the Filipino answer to Puerto Rico’s pan de mallorca. Both are equally sweet, rich, buttery breads and they share the same coiled shape.

Ensaymada is the Filipino answer to Puerto Rico's pan de mallorca. Both are equally sweet, rich, buttery breads and they share the same coiled shape.

The Ensaymada

I’ve talked about the curious culinary similarities between the Philippines and the other Spanish colonized countries. The maja blanca is an example, and we can add the ensaymada to that list as well.

The Spaniards brought their cuisine as they expanded their territories. These were assimilated to the local tastes and spawned near enough versions across the globe. While the original ensaïmada and the pan de mallorca were heavily sprinkled with powdered sugar, we Filipinos stepped up our toppings game and threw in butter, sugar, and cheese.

A truly delicious overkill, in my opinion.

Toppings include butter, sugar, and grated cheese

As with my pan de coco recipe, I used the tangzhong (water roux) method to give the ensaymada recipe softness. The tangzhong method calls for cooking some milk and flour before adding to the dough. It’s an Asian technique for yeast breads that many bakers swear by for keeping the bread soft, even after a few days.

Freshly baked, the bread waits for the chosen toppings

I used my specially imported ensaymada molds, but you can use any mold that you have. The ones I got were about 4 inches in diameter. Most of the ensaymadas sold back home are even bigger!

I think the challenge for this recipe is shaping the dough into coils. Speaking for myself, I’m not very adept at rolling things and such. I find that the dough either slips or unravels, hence the uneven ensaymadas. My cinnamon buns and babkas aren’t the most picturesque either.

Ensaymada topped with butter, sugar, and cheese

But in any case, it’s the taste that matters right? Imperfectly coiled ensaymadas pair off quite nicely with a cup of coffee or hot tsokolate, in my opinion.


Ensaymada with coffee in a cup
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Ensaymada with Cheese Toppings


  • Author: Paula
  • Prep Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Yield: 16 pieces 1x



For the tangzhong:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsps flour

For the dough:

  • 4 cups (480 grams) flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 110 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, large
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 57 grams (1 stick) butter, softened

For the filling:

  • 57 grams (1 stick) butter, melted

For the toppings:

  • 57 grams (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 220 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 100 grams grated cheese


For the tangzhong:

  1. Mix flour and milk in a small saucepan.
  2. Over low heat, whisk the mixture until it thickens like paste and slightly pulls away from the pan.
  3. Set aside to cool.

For the dough:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. 
  2. Carefully add the tangzhong and the eggs. Knead slowly until somewhat combined. Cover with plastic and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the milk while kneading. The dough will be very soft and sticky. 
  4. Add the butter and continue to knead the dough until smooth and shiny.
  5. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Let it rest for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, take it out of the bowl and punch it down to remove the air.
  7. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F.
  8. Take 1 piece and form it into a ball. The rest of the dough pieces should be covered with a damp towel.
  9. Flatten the ball with a rolling pin and shape it into a roughly rectangular shape.
  10. Brush some melted butter. Roll the dough tightly, with the long side facing towards you.
  11. Once the dough has been rolled into a rope, coil it around, tucking the ends at the bottom.
  12. Repeat with the rest of the dough pieces. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  13. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  14. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. 
  15. Brush the tops with softened butter. Generously sprinkle sugar and grated cheese before serving.


  • You can also add some sugar for the filling.
  • I didn’t use any egg or milk wash before baking.
  • Most local panaderias in the Philippines use margarine, instead of butter, for the topping.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Filipino

Keywords: Ensaymada


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Chec del Mundo May 23, 2020 - 11:17 AM

Hey Paula your story is inspiring! Thanks for sharing your recipes, I was wondering… can I use the tangzhong method for pandesal?

Paula May 23, 2020 - 11:21 AM

Hi! You definitely can use that for pandesal. Good luck!


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