Note as of 1-12-09: Please see my labels on the sidebar and look for "ensaymada" for other recipes I have (supersoft and buttery, aside from the earlier bread machine and manual methods). You will also see tips and methods. My favorite, and most popular among my readers, is the super moist, super easy to make, supersoft ensaymada.
Before I left the USA, I baked this bread for supper, which I tweaked with to substitute honey for some of the sugar. Husband said it was so good, so soft and sweet it was almost like a pastry. It reminded me so much of ensaymada.
Now, I am here in Canada as I post this, with my sister and Nanay, and I brought the recipe with me, following the recipe save for changing the proportion of eggyolk and eggs, brushed some with egg glaze and some without, and of course, I shaped them into regular sized ensaymada.
My sister tasted it and said, "Ang sarap! Siksik sya, hindi puro ere." (It's delicious, and not full of air.) At first I thought she was trying to tell me it was solid [hard] because it was "siksik" but what she really wanted to say was that it was not the kind that some rolls are - full of airy holes that one would get gas pains due to so much air eaten than the actual bread, which is usually a result of over-rising.
She brought to work two pieces, as she was giving the other piece to her Filipina co-worker. When she got back, she told me, "Sarap na sarap yung kasama ko. Gusto mag-order. Ituro mo nga sa akin kung paano paggawa." (My co-worker liked it so much that she wants to order some. Teach me how to make it.) At last I achieved what I have meaning to -- evoke interest in my sister to learn baking. She was, anyway, exposed to the same bakery and bakers I grew up with.
Hence, that is the reason why I am not (yet) posting the recipe here. My sister might want to sell ensaymada as a sideline, so she does not want me to post my final recipe here. I can only say that I did not use honey, but all the ingredients can be easily bought from the grocery store. And I can only offer, for now, the slideshow and the how-to's below. For those who will be interested, email me (see contact link) and provide me with your physical mailing address.
1. Prepare the dough (this recipe can be refrigerated, which I prefer because the dough is easier to handle/shape when cold).
2. Divide the dough into 24 pieces (you may want to make 12 pieces first and re-place the rest of the dough in the fridge. This dough can be used within 24 hours.).
3. Using both palms and starting from the middle going outward, roll out each piece to make a 1-ft long "rope."
4. Make each piece into a loose coil so that when you place it on the baking sheet, it lies flat, not like a mound. Some space in between can be allowed, since the dough will still have to rise. The mound at the center will form as the dough rises.
5. After placing on the baking sheet, brush with softened or melted butter/margarine. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 10 minutes or until doubled (depending on the warmth of the place). I place mine inside the oven and turn the oven on for one minute just to make it warm inside. If you are going to place them on the countertop, make sure you cover to avoid drying up.
6. Bake at 350 F for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. You may brush with egg glaze if you want the top a darker brown for better contrast with the inside.
7. Once cooled enough, brush with softened butter or margarine then dredge in sugar and enjoy. Optional: Sprinkle top with grated cheese. I can tell you, though, that this is so good you don't need anything else aside from the basics of ensaymada to enjoy it. In other words, you don't need cheese or salted egg to make it taste good. It was my sister who labeled my ensaymada "special." That's how pleasurable this is to the palate.
Note: The rolling pin method can also be used. Instead of making "ropes", you can flatten the whole dough using rolling pin to make about 10x15 rectangle and brush with butter, leaving about half an inch on one long end. Start log-rolling from the other long end, then pinch to seal at that end without butter. Cut the log into 24 pieces, lay on the baking sheet at 2-inch intervals and let rise. Proceed as above.
When storing, let the buns cool completely then place inside a ziploc bag immediately. It is better to NOT brush them with butter and NOT to sprinkle sugar yet. If you have done so then you have to reheat, the sugar and butter will be quite melted when you microwave, which is not quite appealing to the eyes, but still appealing to the palate.
When ready to consume again, just reheat each piece for about 10-15 seconds in the microwave then brush with butter and roll on sugar.
UPDATE: 12-24-08 --
Please see my labels on the sidebar and look for "ensaymada" for other recipes I have (supersoft and buttery). You will also see tips and methods.