‘Tis the Season for Baking

10841236_1562463310637249_388944230_nMy mom has many sisters and brothers. One of my favorite aunts (well, they are all my favorites – no feelings should be hurt in the making of this blog) is my amazing Aunt Zuzu. She goes by many names, but I like calling her Aunt Zuzu. She is the sunshine and glue that keeps family together. I have always been amazed at her ability to do a thousand things at one time – including coordinating the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Big Christmas Bash every year. Not an easy task with over a hundred family members to invite.

I don’t see her often but like to think of her when I make ensaymadas using her recipe. Spanish in origin, ensaymadas are sweet brioche buns topped with grated cheddar cheese and sugar. Yes, another one of those crazy Filipino desserts. Who puts sugar and cheese together? We do. So be it.

It may sound time consuming, but it’s actually very easy once you get the hang of it. Plus it’s a great way to spend a lazy Sunday. Or why not put on some Christmas tunes, get other family members to pitch in and make it an entertaining afternoon . Essentially that’s what Aunt Zuzu is all about – food, family and fun!

DSC09815Aunt Zuzu’s Ensaymadas

This is actually half of her recipe so feel free to scale up if necessary.

Makes 12 buns

For Dough

6 tablespoons lukewarm water, 110℉ (anything above 120℉ will kill the yeast)

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated white sugar

1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons dried yeast

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

3 egg yolks, room temperature, slightly beaten

3 cups all purpose flour (sifted, measured and sifted again) + 1/2 cup extra, if necessary

For Filling

1/4 cup butter, melted or at room temperature

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

For Top

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

DSC09950In a bowl, combine water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Allow to proof for 5 – 10 minutes, until frothy.

DSC09948In a small pot, combine evaporated milk, water, butter and sugar. Heat to dissolve sugar but do not let come to a boil. Transfer to another bowl and cool to 110℉.

DSC09949In my humble opinion, using egg yolks (not whole eggs) are the secret ingredient to fluffy ensaymadas.

DSC09956In a large bowl, add sifted flour. Make a well in the center. Add milk mixture, yeast mixture and slightly beaten egg yolks. Mix together. If you have a stand up mixer, you can use the dough hook to mix.

DSC09963If the dough is too sticky sift in a few tablespoons flour at a time, up to 1/2 cup in all.

DSC09965Knead for about 6 minutes or until smooth and supple.

DSC09968Place a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a bowl. Coat the dough with oil, cover and set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, or until double in size.

DSC09976After rising, punch dough 4 times to allow air out. On a lightly floured surface, take half the dough and roll into a log. Using a bench scraper, cut into equal portions to make balls.

DSC09978Take one ball of dough. Use rolling pin to flatten into a thin, round circle. Spread butter and cheddar cheese in the center, leaving a border.

DSC09979Fold the round in half. From long end, roll into a rod. If necessary, brush edge with butter to seal.

DSC09986Using your palms roll into a thin, long rod.

DSC09982Then shape into a spiral.

DSC09990Tuck ends. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise 1 hour, doubling in size. Preheat oven to 325℉ (convection oven).

DSC09995Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

DSC00004Brush with butter, roll in a bowl of sugar and grate cheese generously over.

DSC00021Fresh out of the oven, they are super light and fluffy. Perfect for snack time or as we like to say, “merienda”.



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