Ensaimadas with Duck Fat (BBB February 2011 – 3rd Anniversary)

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summary: Choosing a favourite; recipe for Ensaimadas for the Bread Baking Babes’ 3rd anniversary; Catching up on the BBB’s 2nd anniversary; information about Bread Baking Babes and how to become a Bread Baking Buddy;

BBB 3rd anniversary Bread Baking Babes (BBB) 3rd Anniversary

To celebrate the Bread Baking Babes’ third Anniversary, we decided that we’d make our favourite from what has come out of the BBBs’ ovens so far. How beautiful they all are!!

Now, I’m a little embarrassed. I still haven’t baked all the bread that the rest of the BBBabes have baked. And it didn’t seem right to choose my favourite of the few that I’ve baked so far. (If I were going to choose a favourite from those, I think it would have to be the Royal Crown Tortano….)

I’ve been meaning to bake them all. Really I have.

Initially I was going make the BBBs’ first anniversary bread: Pane ai Cinque Cereali con Nod (5-Grain Walnut Bread). But as I looked again at the list, the Ensaimadas began calling and calling to me. Here’s how the conversation went:

ensaimadas: You have duck fat in the fridge.

me: But what about the walnuts?

ensaimadas: Walnuts, schmalnuts. There’s duck fat.

ensaimadas Of course, they’re right. Duck fat trumps walnuts….

Not to mention that I had every intention of making Ensaimadas the last time that we had duck fat in the fridge….

Oooh, these look delicious! And we have both pork lard AND duck fat in the fridge. And olive oil too. Oh, oh. Which shall I use; which shall I use?

-me, 21 February, 2010 at 12:12 AM

Elizabeth, really… I need to tell you? A third with each!!!! Then you can do a taste test. – I recommend a red to help wash them all down.

-Katie, 21 February, 2010 at 05:06 PM

Thanks for setting me straight, Katie. We’ll go to the wine store today to get a suitable Spanish red. (Although, I’m guessing that an Argentinian wine might be okay too?)

-me, comments to Thyme For Cooking, Ensaïmadas; the Bread Baking Babes do Mallorca, 22 February, 2010, 04:48 PM

So here it is only one year later…

We have both duck fat, olive oil and pork lard. As well as butter, of course. (I’ve seen that some people have substituted with butter.) I’d love to try Gretchen’s idea of using the candied squash too but we just ate the last squash we’ve been hoarding from the fall. Next time…. Remind me!

Ensaimada Diary:

After reading the others’ posts and seeing that the dough was quite sticky, I made an executive decision to use only one egg. And because I find that bread made with only all-purpose flour is a little dull, I added a small amount of durum atta. And a little bran too because the atta is so finely milled. And then for good measure (and because Tanna had already set the precedent), a little ground flax seed as well.

Naturally, as I was kneading the dough, it seemed just a little stiff. So I added about 2 Tbsp of water (heh. An egg is about 4 Tbsp of liquid. Clearly, I was wrong wrong wrong to exclude that extra egg. :lalala:) It’s rather chilly in our kitchen these days (around 14C) so I put the kneaded dough into the oven with only the light turned on and waited for rising to occur.

Now, here it is, a little after noon the day before I’m supposed to post the anniversary results and the dough looks exactly the same as it did when I put it into the oven. Oh oh.

About an hour later: Quel relief!! The dough has doubled, proving the maxim that watched breaddough doesn’t rise. And just before beginning to roll out the buns, I popped upstairs to the computer to read through Karen’s instructions.

Aha!! Isn’t reading a wonderful thing?

I was saved from ruining things by noticing that I’m supposed to divide the risen dough into ten equal(ish) pieces and form them into balls which are to be left alone for 30 minutes. Done!!

This is great because it means that I can actually take the time to look at some rolling tips

Whoa!! Now wait just a minute there. That YouTube guy is speaking Spanish! Remarkably, I managed to understand some of it!!

Oh oh. I’m not sure that the dough I made is nearly as elastic as the dough this Spanish fellow made. Wow, I wonder if I’ll be able to stretch the dough that thinly….

Roughly thirty minutes later: It’s a miracle. Am I really learning how to read?? AND retain what I’ve read???

Roughly another hour later: Ha. The answer to the above questions? I think not. I have just finished shaping the buns – had great fun doing it too. While I was rolling the second piece of dough, there was a bit of duck fat on the board. This handily made the dough cling to the board so that it was much easier to roll out very thinly. Then, because of the duck fat (duck fat rules!), it was equally easy to release the dough from the board.

So, I slathered and rolled and coiled and put the shaped rolls onto two parchment papered cookie tins. I covered them and stuck them into the oven with only the light turned on to rise. I imagined that I’d be baking them tonight. And just to be sure I’d done everything correctly, I re-read Karen’s instructions:

Place about five Ensaimadas on one baking sheet, making sure to leave enough space between them. Lightly brush with lard and cover up again.

The final rise is supposed to last overnight, yet I baked mine in three different batches (with rising times of 1 hour, 4 hours, 13 hours) and we preferred their look and taste with shorter rising times (1 and 4 hours). But do as you like.

-Karen, Bake My Day: Bread Baking Babes bake Ensaïmadas!

Oh oh!! An overnight rise?? That’s not going to work at all. I’ll never be on time for the anniversary celebration at that rate!

Luckily, Karen kindly gave me permission to do as I like… thank you, Karen!! :-)

I’ve got my fingers crossed that a 2 hour rise is all that’s required. I’m also hoping that it doesn’t matter that I didn’t slather the snails on the outsides with duck fat.

About three hours later: Aaaugghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! Black bottoms!!! We have black bottomed ensaimadas. Along with the phrase “I have no sympathy for you.”

Yes, that’s right. I knew that there was a fair amount of sugar in the buns and still put them on the second to top shelf of the oven instead of the top shelf.

ensaimadas I KNEW they should go on the top shelf, but when I was moving the rack, it just seemed too close to the top of the oven.

I also know in retrospect that the oven should have been set at 375F rather than 400F.

And auauauauahhhhghhhhhhhhhh, I can’t read!! I can’t read!!! I only noticed now that these were to bake for only 15 minutes. I glibly assumed they would take 30 minutes. Because all bread, no matter how large or small, takes 30 minutes to bake, right? :stomp: The only reason that they weren’t burnt to a crisp is that at the 15 minute mark, I was going down to turn them around in the oven.

Goodness how sad.


Not a very good sign for anniversary bread, is it?

I have an audio virus now….

when will they ever learn? (Seeger)

ensaimadas In spite of the black bottoms, the buns are still very good. Here’s what I did…

based on Karen’s recipe for Ensaimadas (which in turn was inspired by Eliza’s recipe)

makes ten buns

  • 7 gm (~2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 50 gm (50 ml) lukewarm water
  • 40 gm (~⅓ c) skim milk powder ¹
  • 200 gm (200 ml) additional water, hot ²
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 450 gm (~4½ c) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 45 gm (~½ c) durum atta (whole wheat)
  • 5 gm (~2 Tbsp) wheat bran
  • 13 gm (~2 Tbsp) flax seed, finely ground
  • 5 gm (~½ tsp) kosher salt
  • 130 gm (or so) duck fat, room temperature ³
  1. Mixing Pour lukewarm water into a small bowl, add yeast and whisk well til smooth. Set aside.
  2. Pour hot water into a large mixing bowl and whisk in milk powder, olive oil and egg. Add sugar, flours, bran, flax seed and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix well. Check the mixture on your wrist to ensure that the temperature is at baby bottle temperature. Add the yeast mixture and using a wooden spoon stir it together as best you can. It will look a bit like porridge. Cover the bowl with a plate or tea towl and allow to rest about 20 minutes.
  3. Kneading Put the dough onto an unfloured board
  4. Hand wash and dry the mixing bowl. (Yes, this step is important. It prepares the rising bowl, gets your hands nice and clean AND allows the dough to rest a little.)
  5. Knead the dough by hand until soft and smooth- about 10 minutes. If the dough seems dry (mine did) knead in a couple of tablespoons of water. Use your dough scraper to keep the board clean. Add a tiny bit of flour if the dough seems sticky but try not to add too much – the dough should be soft.
  6. First Rise: Put the kneaded dough into the clean mixing bowl (no need to oil the bowl!) Cover the bowl and leave in the oven with only the light turned on until it doubles. (should take an hour or two or three – depending on the temperature in your kitchen)
  7. Shaping: Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Cut it into 10 equal pieces and shape them into balls. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. After the resting period, rub a little bit of oil on the board and place the ball on the oiled board and roll it out very thinly into a long square-nosed oval. The dough should be quite elastic. Keep rolling until it is rectangular.
  9. Generously smear the top with fat. Roll the rectangle like a long jelly roll, then coil the roll so it resembles a snail. Place the shaped bun onto one of two parchment lined cookie sheets. Repeat the process with the other 9 balls, placing each bun well apart.
  10. Proofing: Cover and allow to rise until doubled. (about 2 hours)
  11. Turn the oven to 400F.
  12. Baking Bake on the TOP rack of the oven at 400F for 15 minutes.
  13. When the buns are done, remove to cool onto a footed rack. Wait until they are completely cool (the bread is still baking when hot out of the oven) before eating.


1.) Milk Powder: Obviously, actual milk can be substituted; simply replace the water with milk. Some people think that milk should be scalded first. But because almost all milk (certainly any of the milk we buy at the supermarket) is heat treated already and the enzymes that inhibit yeast development are already dealt with.

2.) Hot Water In the winter, I use hot water to drive up the temperature of the flour that is stored in our rather chilly kitchen (it’s generally around 15C). When hot water is mixed with cold flour in a cold mixing bowl, it quickly bring the temperature of the ingredients to around body temperature. Of course, I heat cold tap water in a kettle. I NEVER use hot water from the tap. (Ewwwwww…) Cold tap water is fine to use though – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. For lukewarm water, heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

3.) Duck Fat Apparently, ensaïmadas are traditionally made with pork lard. I used duck fat because we happened to have it on hand. But any fat will do: goose fat, butter, olive oil….

4.) Burning Baking Because of the amount of sugar in the dough, it’s essential to bake these buns on the TOP shelf of the oven. (Do you think you can remember that NOW, E??? :lalala:) It might be a good idea to lower the temperature to 375F too.

5.) If you want warm bread If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 500F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven directly on a rack for ten minutes. If the bread happens to be is a little stale, put it into a paper bag first. Spray the bag liberally with water and place it in the hot oven until the bag is dry (about 10 minutes).

ensaimadas This morning, I carefully carved away all the burned bottoms (using our wonderful $2 Swedish bread knife) and put one of the buns into the toaster oven (that I KNOW has a rotten thermostat) to warm up.

Augghagh ahhh hhhhagh gggghggggggggg ggggggg ggggghhhh hhhhhhhhhhh!!!

I seem determined to have blackened ensaimadas. :lalala:

Luckily, the ensaimada was delicious inside. So delicious that I will definitely be making these again. I like the idea of filling them too. I bet caramelized onions (NOT blackened) would be delicious!

See? I KNEW they would be a favourite. (Not the blackened part)

ensaimadas We’re planning on having UNblackened ensaimadas tonight with lentils and home-made smoked sausage. Mmmmm.


Bread Baking Babes 3rd Anniversary

BBB 3rd anniversary As part of the 3rd anniversary celebration, Lien (Notitie Van Lien) created a brand new colourful badge for us.

Whoohoooo! Let the partying begin! And even though she does not yet have a working kitchen in her new house, Tanna (My Kitchen in Half Cups) is hosting this month.

Even though I haven’t yet made all the bread (I will; I will!!) so far, I think my favourite BBB bread so far has to be

  • Royal Crown Tortano

closely followed by

  • Italian Knot Bread
  • Mary’s Dark Onion Rye
  • Naan
  • Taralli
  • Pita
  • Challah
  • Brunkans Långa
  • Cornucopia

T loved the cornucopia bread so much that he insisted I make it several times (no. not the basket part – the little buns filling the basket).

And the Coccodrillo that everyone else raves about? I just don’t get it. Every time I’ve tried has been a miserable failure. I may just try it one more time but then again, maybe not. :stomp:

Karen (Bake My Day) was the host kitchen for the BBBabes’ 2nd anniversary. She wrote the following:

The sweet little bun we’re going to make this month is called Ensaïmada and it’s said that the origin dates back to the 17th century. […] An inconspicious looking pastry-like bun which will reveal it’s little secret once torn (or bitten into). Why this choice? Purely coincidence. At the time I was reading a book called “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

-Karen, Bake My Day, “Bread Baking Babes bake Ensaïmadas!”, 18 February, 2010

Hey!! I’m reading The Shadow of the Wind right now too!! No wonder I chose to make Ensaïmadas! (Hmmmm, I wonder if one of the characters caused me to burn the bottoms….)

Which bread are you going to make to join in the celebration? If you’re having trouble choosing – or even if you’re not – please do take a look at which breads the other BBBabes chose.

And after you’ve baked your bread, send a note or comment to Tanna so you can get your 3rd special anniversary BBBuddy badge.

Happy Baking!!

For complete details about the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

For those on Facebook, the BBBs have also created an FB Group Bread Baking Babes and Friends for discussions on bread related matters.


Yeastspotting - every Friday (wordle.net image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:


On his way out, he passed Fermín, who was returning laden with a bag of steaming-hot buns. Fermín saw him go off in the dusk, shaking his head. He left the buns on the counter and offered me an ensaimada just out of the oven.

-Carlos Ruiz Zafón, “Shadow of the Wind”, p 193

BBB: Three Years
BBB collage 2008
Let’s Get Baking; Royal Crown Tortano; Coccodrillo; Sullivan Street Potato Pizza; Poilane-Miche, Mary’s Dark Onion Rye; Tribute to Sher; Whole-Wheat Pita; Sûkerbôlle; Challah; The Rosendal Knackbröd; Yule Wreath
BBB collage 2009
Croissants; 5-Grain Bread with Walnuts; Pane Francese; Ethiopian Injera; Italian Knot Bread; Asparagus Bread; Beirut Tahini Swirls; Russian Black Bread; Chinese Flower Steam Buns; Peruvian Bread Babies; Brioche Mousseline; Viennese Striesel
BBB collage 2010
Naan; Ensaimadas; Gluten Free; Potato Bread with Chives; Tunisian Spicy Breads; Korni; Yeasted Sprouted Wheat Bread; Sweet Portuguese Bread; Brunkans Långa; Broa; Cornucopia; Taralli


This entry was posted in anniversaries, baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes, whine on by .

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4 responses to “Ensaimadas with Duck Fat (BBB February 2011 – 3rd Anniversary)

  1. katie

    Finally – and, yes, duck fat rules!
    (BTW – I sent you en email on Monday about your comments not working – is your email not working either?)

    Lentils and sausages sound like a good match – and a bit of red????

    Yes. Finally. But of course with a bit of red. (You have to ask?) I seem to remember it was Italian though. I hope the border police don’t come after us! And thank you for the email about the malfunctioning comments. But why oh why didn’t you also email to remind me to make Ensaimadas sooner? -Eeeheeeheeeelizabeth

  2. Sara

    Oh poor little buns with their black bottoms! Ah, I know with a bit of trimming they’ll be delicious. Babe Power!

    You’re right, Sara. They are! They are!! Ensaimadas are my favourites! -Elizabeth

  3. Carol

    Hmm, seems like nothing was meant to go well with that batch of rolls. I’m not much into baking but have a father who is. Maybe I can get him to make them. And, at the risk of sounding like I’m rubbing salt into your wounds, I like reheating things in the toaster oven and don’t have a problem with it. Keep up your efforts.

    t o a s t e r a n d c o n v e c t i o n o v e n s [dot] c o m

    I shouldn’t have had a problem reheating the rolls either, Carol. All I had to do was set a timer! :lalala: Do get your father to make ensaimadas. They’re fabulous – even with black bottoms. Without black bottoms, they’d be divine. -Elizabeth

  4. Gosia

    The dinner combination sounds divine… home-made smoked sausage – you say? I must try the einsaimadas next, blackened or unblackened, they call my name.


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