Ensaimadas - Light, airy and delicate pastry
If the title surprises you, we would simply say that it is based on the marvellous description that the brilliant Catalan writer Josep Pla gave to the ensaimada, which he described as “the lightest, airiest and most delicate pastry in this country”. If you have tried it, you no doubt agree with this description. And if you have not yet tasted it, you now have one absolutely vital reason to come to Palma.
To give you an idea of how important this product is, let’s say that the ensaimada is to Palma what pizza is to Naples: a point of pride, intangible heritage, almost always sweet, with occasional exceptions (the combination with sobrassada sausage is delicious).
According to most historians, this culinary marvel, which is taken home as a souvenir by the majority of tourists who visit Palma, began life as a sweet bread or pastry to celebrate the new year in the Jewish community, with the difference that olive oil was replaced by lard, a key ingredient in the ensaimada. Its appearance (careful, it is copyrighted) is flat and spiral-shaped, dusted with icing sugar
The ensaimada evolved over time, and one of the great ‘revolutions’ was to add a filling. The most common and most popular filling is spaghetti squash jam. However, depending on the time of the year in which you visit Palma, you will see that there are many different fillings: from sobrassada sausage, as we mentioned, to figs and apricots, everything goes nicely with the ensaimada. In fact, the window displays of Palma’s bakeries and pastry shops are an irresistible array of colours to behold.
Where can you try it?
As the legacy is so ancient and it deserves to be honoured and preserved, the ensaimada is a certified as a designation of origin product. Because of this, the corresponding regulatory board is tasked with ensuring that the entire production process
(for both ensaimadas filled with spaghetti squash jam and plain ensaimadas) meets a number of quality standards.
In Palma, there are 23 points of sale registered with the Ensaimada Regulatory Board.
You can also contact a specialised company to take part in a guided tour of one of these bakeries and pastry shops where they make the best ensaimadas in Palma.
Do you want to learn to make ensaimadas?
If you want to try ensaimadas and also make your own, in Palma, there are various organisations and professionals that run courses teaching you how to make them. If you are interested, you just need to send us an email.