No other product is more typical or famous of the Illes Balears. This sweet, spiral-shaped bun has become the breakfast not only of Mallorcans and visitors; its consumption has spread to bars and bakeries overseas.
Many visitors arrive on these islands with a very special request from their relatives and friends; to take them back one of the rich ensaimadas which
are made here.
That is why, in the airports and ports, it is very common to see tourists carrying the typical boxes jealously guarding all types of this very special sweet bun, ranging from the traditional ensaimadas, to those filled with cabello de ángel (pumpkin jam) or custard cream.
Its name comes from ‘saim’ which means lard and is one of the ingredients. However, its origin is much disputed. Some consider that the ‘fathers’ of the ensaimada were the Arabs, who introduced it in the year 909 and that is why its shape is reminiscent of their turbans. Other believe that it derived from the ‘bulema’, a very similar roll which the Jews used to make in the past.
Filled or plain
The ingredients to make the dough for this sweet bun are flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, milk and pork lard (although the latter can be substituted for olive oil). The dough is rolled up like a coil and then wound around in a circle until it takes on its characteristic spiral shape. When it has been baked, it is dusted with icing sugar.
The traditional ensaimada is made with just the dough, without anything inside. But over the last few years it has also been filled with an assortment of variants, all equally delicious: pumpkin jam, custard cream, chocolate, cream. These filled ensaimadas are larger and are usually eaten as a dessert at get-togethers with family and friends. The small ones are made without any filling and are a delicacy for breakfast.
A few years ago, this product was granted its own Denominación de Origen or Guarantee of Origin and is controlled by a regulating Council, which guarantees the quality of the ingredients and its production.
According to popular tradition, the ensaimada was passed from Moor to Christian, from Christian it became Mallorcan and from Mallorcan … a food for all the Christian world.
The ensaimada is a product which can be eaten in practically all the bars and cafeterias in the Illes Balears. Many bakeries and cake shops make them in their own ovens.