Everybody has a favorite ensaymada. You can’t call yourself a true-blue Pinoy if you have not eaten this sweet, coiled bread in your lifetime. It’s so much a part of our food culture and heritage — dating back to centuries of Spanish rule. These days, the accolade of “best ensaymada“ in Manila is still a hotly-contested title. There are staunch supporters of Hizon’s Ensaymada (from an old bakeshop in Ermita), loyal fans of Cunanan Ensaymada (a homebaking business from Valle Verde in Pasig) and, of course, the much talked-about ensaymada from The Diamond Hotel. I’ve tried them all plus a lot more, and I must say each has remarkable qualities that merit the coveted title. But since taste is subjective, I do have my personal favorite ensaymadas and while they don’t usually make it to the “best lists” I love them to bits just the same. I’m no purist, so my favorites are what many people would call “updated” versions of ensaymada. They make my tummy deliriously happy — who cares if they’re not the old-fashioned kind?
Number 1: The Manila Hotel’s Ube Ensaymada (P35/small; P70/big)
I’ve only discovered it in March last year but I’ve already consumed tons of this purple delight! Every time my husband has a business meeting at the hotel, I’d ask, nay, beg him to buy some ube ensaymada for me. The taste is pretty simple but what makes it so special is the ube halaya (purple yam jam) filling that’s really yummy. The small bread/pastry is great for dessert while the big one is ideal for breakfast or merienda. And here’s a tip: buy the ensaymada from 7:00 p.m. onwards at half the regular price.
Number 2: Cafe Mary Grace’s Grilled Ensaymada with Caramel Sauce and Toasted Cashews (P109)
Yes, it’s too costly for an ensaymada, but it’s an indulgence I’m willing to shell out money for once in a while. I love anything with caramel and this twist on Mary Grace‘s famous ensaymada works for my sweet tooth. The chopped cashew nuts add more flavor and texture to the soft and fluffy pastry.
Number 3: Tsoko.nut Batirol’s Ensaymada with Quezo de Bola (P56)
Best enjoyed warm, this ensaymada‘s crown of melted butter cream makes me weak in the knees with excitement (butter is one of my true loves). I don’t really like edam cheese, but here I make an exception. So simple yet so divine. The only problem is that I can’t have just one.
Care to share your favorite ensaymada?