[VIDEO] Small Batch Filipino Cheese Ensaymada

Ensaymada, soft fluffy rolls smothered with whipped butter and topped with lots of grated cheese.

I miss eating Ensaymada, this is one pastry bread that I truly love eating when I was still in the Philippines. There are a lot of stores now that sells Ensaymada in the Philippines, but for me, nothing beats the one a bakery called Goldilocks. It is super soft, light and fluffy. They come in small or large size (which I often get) and they can be plain or with strips of bacon inside. They are so good one piece is not enough, this is why I always opt for the large size. If you are a Filipino, you probably know what I am talking about, what is this Ensaymada and why we love it so much. For those of you who doesn’t know what I am talking about, let me give you a background about this bread. Hopefully, after looking at these photos and watching the video, you will be convinced to make and enjoy this Ensaymada.

Filipino Ensaymada By SweetNSpicyLiving

What is Ensaymada?

Ensaymada is a sweet bread roll, often baked in a brioche tin pan or individual portion. The bread uses a rich dough, this means it uses ingredients that have fat in it. The fat is what makes the bread soft, creamy and extra delicious. This dough uses full fat milk, egg and butter, so it has all the fat it needs to produce a soft bread worth waiting and making.

The rolls are baked as individual serving portion and it uses a broiche mold. It can also be baked as dinner rolls that are side by side each other. A whipped butter is use to frost the top and grated cheese is sprinkle on top of the bread. This is what makes it especial and what set it apart from other sweet rolls. 

Toasted Small Batch Filipino Cheese Ensaymada

Is Ensaymada an Original Filipino Bread?

We call it Ensaymada, I call it Filipino Ensaymada to be specific. Although Filipinos love this bread so much, and I wish I can say it is originally a Filipino bread, but it is not.  Ensaymada is actually a Spanish bread, called Ensaimada. Spaniards have a very strong influence in  Philippine cuisine and culture and we have adopted numerous dishes and have tweak it in our own way. Ensaymada is common in parts of Europe, Latin America and South East Asia. In Puerto Rico, it is called pan de mallorca. There are several variations and different places have their own take on it. This Ensayamda is my own version, am I truly love it. The bread is soft, fluffy and creamy. The texture is light, and it has a very subtle sweet and salty taste from cheese. I used whipped butter to frost the top, and grated white cheese to seal the deal.

Ensaymada Variations

  • Uses margarine to spread on top and sprinkled with granulated sugar. This version is common to be found in small bakery or from street vendors
  • Uses buttercream frosting on top for a sweeter take
  • Uses sliced salted egg on top (very Asian) which I know will probably raise eyebrow of some people as I have to agree it is quite an unusual unthinkable combination. Filipinos love a combination of sweet and salty so we often do this in a lot of our desserts
  • Addition of bacon strips inside
Filipino Ensaymada

Often times when I was still in the Philippines, I enjoy eating it as it. The store-bought one comes in singles so it is a quick and easy grab and go snack. Since I made this at home and ate it at home, I always toast it. I love how the cheese melts on the top providing a crunchy melting texture and nice soft fluffy bread. If you haven’t tried toasted Ensaymada, give it a try and you’ll know why for me this is the best way to enjoy it.

But in the end, either way, toasted or not, it taste absolutely delicious. Yes, homemade bread is a labor of love, but every minute is worth it. 

How to Make Small Batch Cheese Ensaymada

Tips for a Successful Soft Homemade Bread

  • Liquid Temperature – Yeast grows in temperature between 105 – 110F, so its important to have the water that you are using to “proof” it in this range. If you go lower or higher, the yeast might not proof properly. That means the bread will not rise as much, resulting to a flat and tough bread. 
  • Check Yeast Expiry a Date – you might be wondering how come the bread did not rise when you followed exactly the recipe. Well, first thing first, make sure the yeast is not yet expired. Expired yeast is the common reason for flat and dense bread. If your bread did not expand or rise during the rest period, it is most likely that the yeast is not fresh or the water temperature is too hot or cold.
  • Amount of Yeast – Just because you want a tall bread doesn’t mean you have to put as much yeast in the mixture. Sometimes adding too much yeast can cause the bread to collapse during the rest period. Just imagine putting more air than what is needed in a balloon, the balloon will explode. The same case with bread. 
  • Right Type of Yeast – We’ve discussed the 3 types of yeast above. Make sure to use the right one for your recipe, and make necessary adjustments if you want to swap one from another. 
  • Rest Period – Yeast bread needs time to rise. There are bread that uses less yeast but requires more rest time, the likes of No Knead Bread or Artisan Bread which usually require 8- 16 hours rest period to get the volume and to develop the flavor. There are 1 hour bread like my Rosemary Dinner Rolls which used this same bread dough. The point is, give it time to rest, don’t touch it just leave it in a warm place. The first rest period will normally tell you if your dough is good or not. If it rise and almost double in size, then your on the right track.  
  • Expiration and Quality of the Flour – The quality of the flour greatly affect the texture of the bread. All-purpose flour could differ from country to country although they are all called as all-purpose flour. Sometimes it depends on the brand too. The closer the flour to expiration date or if it is already expired, the flour could tend to be drier, which means it would require more liquid than mentioned in the recipe. This is a common issue of way sometimes the dough tend to be tough and dry. This is why sometimes you have to add few more tablespoon from the suggested flour measurement to get the right texture. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour until it is no longer to sticky to handle. If it is too dry, a small amount of liquid helps provide moisture to the dough. A clean side of the bowl, with the dough slightly sticking at the bottom, a soft, smooth and elastic dough is what You are aiming for.
Small Batch Cheese Ensaymada By SweetNSpicyLiving

How do I Know if I Made the Bread Dough Correctly?

  • Activating the Yeast –  This is the first thing that you should get right, otherwise do NOT proceed. After 5 – 10 minutes you should see a foam forms on top of the water, this is an indication that the yeast is alive. If you do not get this, either the yeast is old or the liquid temperature is too hot or cold. The temperature should be 100F, lukewarm but not hot.
  • Clean Bowl After Kneading – The sides of the bowl should be clean, while the bottom is slightly sticking to the dough. This means that amount of liquid to the flour is correct. Enough to make a clean bowl and still make a slightly wet dough.
  • Soft Dough – Soft dough means the amount of flour to liquid is enough. Too much flour could make the bread dense and heavy, and too much liquid could make it too wet. Both will affect how the bread rise in the rest period. Try to push your fingers in the dough, it should leave a “dimple” on the dough and should gradually disappear.
  • Smooth Dough Surface – Again, this is a sign of correct flour to liquid ratio. A “bumpy” surface could mean that the dough is dry and tough.
  • Elastic Dough – A soft dough is usually elastic. If your dough is dry and tough, it wouldn’t be as elastic when you pull it apart.
  • First Rest Period – The dough should almost double in size. This is a sign that the activation of the yeast work which is crucial to making a soft and fluffy bread. This also means the yeast is alive (not yet expired) and the liquid temperature is correct. I always use baking thermometer to check the temperature of the liquid.
  • Second Rest Period – The bread dough should be really puff up. This is crucial and the final state of the bread before baking. If you are able to make it puff-up, that is a good sign that there are air trapped inside which will make the bread fluffy.
Small Batch Filipino Ensaymada By SweetNSpicyLiving

Why is My Dough too Wet or too Dry?

Don’t get frustrated if your dough did not turn out immediately as what you see in the photo or video. Most likely It is not because you did not follow the recipe. When it comes to bread making, the amount of flour and liquid is not always 100% precise. This is why often times you will encounter recipes that says, if your dough is dry, add a bit more liquid. If your dough is too wet, add a little bit more flour. This instructions are not meant to confuse you, they are meant to guide you on how to adjust as you work through your dough. The reason for this is that  although the measurement of water and flour are specified in the recipe, it still could slightly vary depending on many factors. For instance, all-purpose flour could very from country to country, or even from brand to brand. Don’t be surprise if you find that some brand tends to require a bit more liquid as the others. On top of this, the amount of liquid is also affected by the state of your flour. How old is the flour that you are using? Older flour nearing expiry tends to be drier and this requires more liquid. Humidity also affects baking. The more humid it is, the more likely the dough will be sticky and wet. Bread making requires patience, and practice. Once you learn how to feel the right texture of the dough, everything will be quick and easy. You can instantly tell if you need to add more water or flour to get the dough in right state.

What If I Do Not Have Brioche Mold?

Do not worry, you can still make Ensaymada. There are several ways that you can make it

  • Bake it as individual rolls like you would bake dinner rolls. Shape and swirl the dough and arrange it in a baking pan. The difference is that Ensaymada baked in mold produces a thicker bread because there is no room to expand and spread. but do not worry, it is still good even if bake like dinner rolls.
  • Bake it as dinner rolls and arrange it in a rectangle pan. Divide the dough into 6 or 9 and roll each portion like a ball. Arrange in the pan side by side. This will look like more pull-apart style.
  • Bake it in large muffin pan. Divide the dough into 6 or 7. You can shape it like when you are baking it in a brioche pan, or you can shape it into a dinner rolls.

Ingredients (5 Pieces):

  • 1/3 cup warm Full Fat Milk (110F) – microwave 15 seconds
  • 1/4 cup granulated Sugar (Divided: 1/2 teaspoon for the yeast, remaining for the flour)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast or 1 teaspoon Instant Yeast
  • 1 large Egg – room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour (plus 2 tablespoon ONLY as needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoon softened unsalted Butter
  • 2/3 cup White Cheddar Cheese – grated

Whipped Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted Butter – softened
  • 3 tablespoon Icing Sugar


  1. Activate the Yeast: Set aside 2 tablespoon of milk in a measuring cup. Pour the remaining milk is the mixing bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar and stir. Add active dry yeast, stir and leave for 10 minutes to bloom.
    • If using instant yeast, mix the yeast with the dry ingredients. No need to activate it.
  2. Add Wet Ingredients: Mix the egg with the 2 tablespoon of milk and add half of the mixture to the yeast. You can add the remaining gradually later.
    • Bread Making Tip: Adding the liquid gradually will help you monitor the consistency of the dough better so you can stop adding more liquid once you notice that the dough it getting too wet already. You may or may not need all the mixture. Your aim is a smooth, soft, elastic dough that is slightly stick at the bottom of the pan
  3. Add Dry Ingredients: Add the flour, salt and remaining sugar Knead for 15 minutes.
  4. Gradually add remaining egg and milk mixture, until the dough comes together and is still slightly sticking to the bottom of the bowl. If you notice that the dough is dry, add 1/2 teaspoon of milk at a time and continue kneading at least 3 minutes after every addition of additional milk. I often end up with 1 tablespoon egg and milk mixture leftover.
    • To Check: The dough should be smooth, soft, elastic and slightly sticking to the bottom of the bowl
  5. Add the softened butter and knead for another 15 minutes. When you add the butter, you will notice the dough will break apart and it will look like it is too wet. Do not panic, this is expected. Continue mixing (even if longer than 15 minutes) until the dough comes together completely (it will), the side of the bowl is clean and the dough is slightly sticking at the bottom of the bowl. Do not stop mixing until you get to this stage. It takes time to fully incorporate the butter to the flour mixture, so be patient.

6.Let Rest 1st Time: Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or warm towel, and then let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled. (Rising time is dependent on the temperature of the room; let rise until the dough is doubled).

L-R: Dough After Kneading, Dough Before first rest, Dough after first rest

Trick: Pre-heat the oven to 110F then turn it OFF. Put the covered dough inside for 1 hour.

7. Shape the Dough: Punch the dough down very well, and gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into 5 portions. Rodd each piece to about 12 x 3 -inches then spread some softened butter on top. Roll into a rope about 20-inches long. Start pressing back and forth from the center to slowly bring it to 20-inch length. Hold one end with your hand, and hold the other end with your other hand and start moving in a circular motion until it looks almost like a cinnamon roll. Transfer in an individual brioche mold. Cover with warm towel or plastic wrap.

L-R: Before 2nd rest, after 2nd rest, after baking

8. Let Rest 2nd Time: Place in a warm place to rise for 60 minutes. They will be puffy when ready, if needed extend until the bread is fully puff-up.

9. Pre-heat the Oven: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F in the last 10 minutes of 2nd rest time. If you are using the oven to rest the dough, do NOT forget to take the dough out before pre-heating.

11. Bake for 18 minutes, until deeply golden brown. Turn the tray half way though for even baking.

12. Cool: Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes then remove and transfer in a cooling rack. Do not leave the bread cooling in the mold as this could create steam that will make the bottom soggy.

13. Make the Whipped Buttercream: In a small bowl, add the softened butter and mix just to break it apart. Add icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. If you prefer a sweeter whipped butter, add 1 tablespoon more of sugar

14. Finish-up – Spread the butter on the cooled Ensaymada. Generously sprinkle with grated cheese.

15. Serve: You can serve this as is, but I LOVE toasting this before serving. The cheese melt and some area will be crunchy, and it just taste so good. Give toasting a try, it is a game changer on how you eat this Ensaymada.

Makes 5 pieces

How To Serve Ensaymada

Small Batch Filipino Ensaymada

Well it is a sweet bread rolls (but more attractive and delicious than plain rolls) so you can serve and eat it as in. I suggest adding the whipped butter frosting and grated cheese on top just before you serve it, or at least few hours before. This makes the grated cheese stays moist. Grated cheese when exposed for long time in open air tends to dry out and the moisture is reduce. You can prepare it an have it on the counter away from direct sunlight. This is good as it is, and there is really no right or wrong on how to eat or serve it. But just to let you in to my world, I would suggest try toasting it before serving it. The cheese will melt and will be crunchy when it cools down, and the bread will be nicely warm inside and out. Take my word for it, it is the BEST say to east this Ensaymada. She how the cheese on the top melted and crisp up? So delicious

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