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How to Make an Irresistible Filipino Pastry

Phoebe Fry

July 25, 2019

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Photo: Justin Walker

Why decide between sweet and savory when you can have both? Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad teach us how to satisfy both cravings simultaneously with this recipe from I Am a Filipino, a 2019 Beard Award nominee for International cookbook. Ensaymada are pastries topped with frosting and grated Edam cheese—the ultimate treat for fans of all things salty-meets-sweet. Adapted from the lard-enriched ensaimada of Majorca in Spain, the Filipino iterations of these golden buns swap pork fat for cheese. Other than this difference, ensaymada and ensaimada are much the same: sweet, flaky indulgences with a salty element and coiled shape. Ensaymada embodies Filipino cuisine with its Spanish influence and bold, addictive flavor. 

Ponseca and Trinidad start by making the frosting—a simple combination of butter and sugar. Next, they prepare the dough, enriching it with egg yolks and shortening before letting it rise in a warm place for up to 2 hours. Once the dough has risen to twice its size, they form spirals, which get covered for a second rise before being deemed ready to bake. Finally, they top the rolls with a little frosting and bake until golden brown. When removed from the oven, the buns receive another layer of frosting and a generous sprinkle of grated cheese. Enjoy these decadent delicacies while still warm and melty from the oven! Get the recipe.

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Phoebe Fry is the media intern at the Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.