Recent Posts

Archive for 2012-12-23

Homemade Special Ensaymada


             It's been a while since I last baked. Well, the last time I got my hands dirty (in the kitchen sense, of course) was more than 4 months ago, give or take. When I was in high school, I would bake almost every week trying out different recipes, from cookies to breads to cakes. After my attempt at making rainbow bread, which didn't turn out the way I hoped it would - it was colorful but tough to chew (my baking skills were rusty at that time), I was looking for a sweet and tasty bread recipe to try. After rifling through several different recipes, I settled with ensaymada. That was the first time I tested the recipe. Not only does it have a historical background, it also is a favorite among Filipinos. Originally eaten in most territories in Spain, the ensaymada dates back to the 17th century and was eaten mostly during celebrations. It has a distinct coil shape and is dusted with sugar. They are soft, sweet, buttery and make the perfect partner for a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Some variants make use of queso de bela for a more extravagant pastry experience. 

                     Since my mum and aunt were slaving in the kitchen cooking our Christmas eve dinner, I wanted to bake something different instead of cookies or bread pudding. So, I didn't blink twice and  primed all my ingredients, sifted the flour and set my pans aside. Plus, ensaymada is always a great way to end a Christmas meal. Hence, the puffed up sweet bread you'll see a couple of photos down this entry.

       Yes, that's me kneading the bread. I know my hands look kind of stiff but my fingers were being worked to the bone. The dough looks a lot bigger than it appears on the photo so I guess it's safe to say that my hands had a quick workout. 

They look like fingers, don't they?

            I decided to make two batches of ensaymada - one in big tin molds and the other in muffin pans. That way, one recipe could yield more than enough to feed my hungry family.

Buttered baby ensaymadas right before they hit the oven. 

           I was worried they wouldn't rise, but after just several minutes inside the oven, they started to inflate like a balloon eager to burst!


       When these little numbers finished cooling, my lola was so proud with the outcome of the special ensaymada. My lola is the ultimate baking doyenne in our family, I think that's how my fascination with the craft started. Back in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, my lolo and lola owned a bakeshop called Sugar & Spice. They would make all sorts of pastries and breads - from ensaymada, to brazo de mercedes to hopia and all sorts of delicious cakes. Hearing my lola commend me is as fulfilling as winning an award at an ambitious pastry making contest in Europe.  

     The regular ensaymada is usually just topped with butter and sugar, but this batch is extra special since smothered with butter, dunked in a generous amount of sugar and finished off with cheese. I think I'll call this Extra Special Ensaymada

The mini and regular sized ensaymada. 

Have a wonderful and food-filled Christmas everyone! :) 

Cake Fest Birthday Special!


           I know this post is two months late, but I wasn't going to carry on writing about eatables without expressing thanks to my very generous sponsors, Angela Villoria and Cukay Viray of Cinq and Cukay's, respectively, for the wonderful cakes they gifted me with for my birthday. If you've read my previous posts, you'll see that I featured their pastries on my blog here: 

         A couple of days before my celebration, I dropped by Alabang Town Center to visit Cukay's stall at the New Wing. You can imagine the huge smile that was plastered on my face while I was walking around the mall with two big boxes of Cukay's Red Velvet Cake and Banoffee Pie. I felt like Carrie from Sex & the City, gliding down the streets of New York with oversized sunglasses and painfully high heels, except that  my "shopping bags" were filled with food instead of clothes. Before I began blogging, the red velvet craze had already surfaced and as I read more about different home bakers and looked into current food trends (yeaup, fads don't just apply to fashion now), I came across several articles, tweets and comments tagging Cukay's as having the best red velvet cake out on the market. Although I haven't tried everyone's version of the famed colored cake, I will say that it's currently at the top of my list. I recall eating more than 2 slices of this the day after my birthday and every bite was guilt-free to me. 

It's tough to put your own spin on something that's selling like hotcakes and at the same time make it likeable by consumers, but it seems like Cukay worked on perfecting her winning number. It's moist, filling and the thick layer of cream cheese on top and in between is, what I believe to be, faultless. 

When you try it for the first time, you'll think that a single serving is enough..until you finish one slice and find yourself cutting another piece.

Red Velvet Cake (small round), P420

My second destination was Angela's house at Palm Village in Makati. Most of her orders are for pick-up for obvious reasons - her cakes are as delicate as a baby. So, when I held the cake box in my hands and took a peek to see what it looked like, I wasn't sure if I wanted to even take it home cause I wanted it all to myself - it was this incredible round number covered in a glistening glaze. I say the top layer was glistening because it literally was - it's as if fairies sprinkled some of their magic dust onto the cake to make it more bewitching than it already was.

Angela Villoria wows again with her aesthetically pleasing creations. Oh, and did I mention that it tastes good too?  This is what I call an incredible edible. Even though it's been two months since I had a taste of this heavenly cake, I still find its design so overwhelming and captivating. It's like it was made to mesmerize and not be eaten. Adorned with a lavish berry selection on top and  surrounding the bottom, the fruits spell out a festive mood and quickly catches my attention while my eyes study the cake with such awe. All three berries sit on diplomat cream, which is a mixture of pastry cream and whipped cream. It has a custardy texture to it but is little lighter than the former. The white chocolate shaped like wings on the side lead me to believe that angels sent me this. Feast your eyes on more photos of the cake before I continue further, yes?

Alright, that right there was a classier version of food porn. Now, let's get back to the food talk. Notice how even the blueberries look like small constellation balls? I don't know Angela does it, but I do know her dessert boutique Cinq is on its way to making a long-lasting impression on the minds and tummies of people. Clearly, her cakes have made their mark. This one in particular doesn't have a name yet, and I jokingly told Angela to name it after me. Okay, I wasn't joking...maybe just a little? 

              Divine, isn't? This one definitely takes the cake! It is almost literally the queen of all cakes. If this dessert took the form of a woman, she would walk about with such fine elegance and carry around a crown of fruit. This is not to bash the date bar in any way, although I believe that the title "Food For The Gods" should be entrusted to this multi-layer chocolate truffle cake. The white layer, known as almond dacqiouse, holds another blanket of fruit. Dacquiose, which is French for "of Dax", a town in southwestern France, is a cake with layers of almond and hazlenut meringue and whipped cream and is normally accompanied by fruit. One taste of this and you will find yourself whisked off from higher ground and into the heavens. I'm not kidding when I say this, but this cake was praised like a goddess by my family and I.

       The chocolate truffle layers beam with a mix of sweet and bitter tastes attributed to the dark chocolate that was used to lift the level of sophistication of this cake. Marrying the flavors of chocolate and fruit bring about a rich and luxurious treat. You have the tartness of the berries combined with the bittersweet taste of the truffle layers, all you need is a glass of wine and you'll find yourself dining in the splendiferous areas of France.

          Do check out Cinq's Facebook page to see what other exquisite cakes they offer. Contact Angela Villoria through any of the following numbers to order your very own piece of heaven: 0917-625-2611 / 890-6858. 

Thank you once again to CINQ and Cukay's for making my birthday extra special! Our tasetbuds and hips were very much pleased. 

Happy Holidays everyone! :)