As with the bread machine method, the ensaymada resulting from this recipe is like the ones I used to eat a lot when I was a kid, the kind of ensaymada you can get from the nearby bakery in the Philippines, not from goldilocks or red ribbon. This is only made more special by virtue of its very ingredients: more eggyolks and butter.
I have tried both manual and bread machine methods. I still prefer using the bread machine, but the manual was my first attempt, so here goes the recipe.
Recipe #1: Manual method using Rapid Rise Instant Yeast
6 to 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour – (measure separately and put in 3 separate bowls 2 cups first then 1/2 cup then 4 cups to make a total of 6-1/2; reserve the last ½ cup for dusting while kneading)
3/4 cup sugar
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN'S RapidRise Yeast - If you do not have this, just look for anything equivalent to instant yeast (this is mixed with the flour before the hot liquid. 1 envelope = 2-1/4 tsp )
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk (You may want to experiment using buttermilk instead of milk)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 large egg
3 egg yolks (reserve 1 egg white for Egg Glaze – optional; if you are wondering what to do with egg whites, you can use it for meringue or just use for tortang talong and the likes)
about 1/2 cup melted butter for brushing prior to rising
Softened (not melted) butter or margarine
grated white cheese or any other cheese you fancy (optional)
Directions (See earlier post for slide presentation)
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120o to 130o F). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup flour. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough (leave about ½ cup for dusting while kneading). Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes. (If preparing one night ahead, you can refrigerate at this point, a method I prefer because it is then easier to manipulate the dough. Grease a big bowl with shortening, put the dough in it and turn it over so that the dough is covered with grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap then refrigerate. The plastic wrap will prevent the dough from drying up on the exposed surface.)
Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (I do it by halves - cut in half first then cut each half into another half so that I have 4 big pieces. Then I cut each into half again, then cut into 3 to make 6 pieces for each of the 4 big pieces). Using both your hands, roll each piece to make ropes about 1 foot long or more, with the diameter about the same as your middle finger. Make a loose coil with each rope (parang katol; you can even give more allowance for rising), tuck the end under and lay flat on the greased baking sheet (or use parchment paper). Brush each piece right away with a generous amount of softened margarine or melted butter (so that the coil’s grooves are more pronounced. If you don’t, the dough sticks at the grooves and it appears as pyramid instead of a nice mound). Let rise until doubled. (I usually place them inside the oven, along with a bowl filled with hot water, then I heat the oven for 1 minute then turn it off and let the warm air speed up the rising process. Usually they are ready after 15-20 minutes, but you may extend some more if you want puffier buns. I then open the oven door carefully and gradually so as to avoid creating draft then take out the sheets carefully to avoid jarring them -- these might flatten the dough if you are not careful; what we term as "bumagsak.") Put the baking sheets on the countertop where there is no draft.
You might have to prolong the rising time to more than 40 minutes depending on the level of humidity and the temperature where you are (I was told by some that theirs did not rise too much so the buns turned out quite too solid). Keep eyeballing if the buns have doubled in size. You can now start heating the oven.
Brush with Egg Glaze (optional). Bake at 375o F for 12-15 minutes or until done and top is golden dark brown if with glaze or golden light brown if without. (I usually start checking periodically after 10 minutes for the individual rolls. Remove from baking sheets (this avoids sweating at the bottom part so it won’t turn soggy there); cool on wire racks until lukewarm just so that the softened butter or margarine will not melt when brushed. Dip in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat (or you can just sprinkle on top). If storing some pieces, it is better not to put butter/margarine and sugar yet. Cool them completely (about 10 minutes or so; keep touching them) then immediately store in an airtight Ziploc bag to avoid sweating (which will make them soggy and also will encourage faster mold growth). If you live in an area where humidity is too low, avoid exposing to air beyond the time for complete cooling, or the buns will dry out and will be hard. When reheating, place in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (depending on the microwave) to make it lukewarm before applying butter/margarine and sugar. As advised by breadworld.com, leftover breads are better left in room temp instead of inside the fridge. Refrigerating makes them stale faster.
Egg Glaze: Combine 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water; beat lightly until well blended. This will create a very dark golden brown top. (I like the contrast. For those who usually think a dark crust means overdone, it will be such a surprise to bite into the softness of the ensaymada, and that wonderful first bite will reveal a yellowish-whitish interior).
You may want to bake them braided or in rounded pans if you want to wrap them as gift (as I did for Christmas) to friends.
UPDATE as of 4/2/09: Vincent posted his own take of ensaymada on thefreshloaf, with changes involving omission of milk and adding an extra yolk. Hmmmm....yum!