The ensaymada has long been a Pinoy panaderia (bakery) staple. If you spell it with an "i" as in "ensaimada", you would be referring to its close cousin -- the "ensaimada de Mallorca" which is a popular sweet bread in Spain.
You can find ensaymadas in high end bakeshops, with a topping of crumbled Edam cheese or you
can buy them from your neighbourhood panaderia where it is smoothed over with sugar and Star margarine.
I like my ensaymada with a bit of crust and a chewy and not too soft texture -- the proof of the ensaymada for me is the "pull" when I bite into its golden, buttery interior.
On the recent Food and History Tour of Cavite conducted by Food Holidays, one of the "shopping" stops was Baloy's Bakeshop, a popular and well loved panaderia in Cavite City. It's located along
the Manila Cavite Road, right after you pass the welcome arch. Drive slowly or you may just miss
its unassuming facade.
When I was growing up, left over menudo or any other stew from the night before was frequently heated up for breakfast. The sauce was perfect for sopping up with pan de sal. Baloy Bakeshop's eskaparate (glass showcase) of menudo, caldereta and corned beef filled pan de sal brought back
all those fond breakfast memories.
Our tour guide, Caviteño historian Ige Ramos told us that Baloy's started out as a carinderia.
From this modest beginning, the family was able to send the children to school -- they are now
all grown and have successful careers of their own.
The carinderia has been expanded to catering services but a small eatery inside the bakery
continues to serve snacks to loyal suki (patrons).
Ige brought us to Baloy's Bakeshop so we could sample it's singular specialty -- its ensaymadas.
Packed in unique octagon shaped boxes (reminding me of a hat or milliner's box) the ensaymadas
are apparently the house bestsellers.
We were fortunate to meet Mr. Tony Baloy -- chef, master baker and proprietor.
Mr. Baloy proudly calls himself a former OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) -- he worked for
more than twenty years as Chef on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship.
Mr. Baloy said that the octagon shaped box is his homage to the ensaimada de Mallorca which
he had tried on one of his shore excursions. The Spanish ensaimadas come in similar packaging.
One major difference is that these blue and white boxes have Mr. Baloy's smiling face on the cover,
a nice way to personalise and authenticate his product.
Of course I bought a box of Baloy's ensaymadas! And I wasted no time in having it for breakfast
the very next day. Just by looking at it, I knew I would like it. It had a thin, well browned crust,
old fashioned grated cheddar cheese, and just a light dusting of sugar. It also had that perfect brioche shape, with a "topknot" right in the centre.
Baloy's ensaymada is hands down, one of the best I have ever eaten! See how it pulls apart easily?
It's well packed and a bit dense and is buttery and chewy. My idea of a perfect ensaymada.
Aside from the classic ensaymada that you see above, it comes with fillings like ube, Bavarian
creme and an irresistibly caramel-ly dulce de leche.
It was such an honour to meet Mr. Baloy himself -- hardworking, humble and so hospitable during our short visit to his bakeshop. I look forward to tasting those ensaymadas again. They are definitely worth the hour's drive from my house to Cavite City!