Ensaïmada: the sweet taste of Mallorca
The origin of the Mallorcan ensaïmada
The “ensaïmada” is of Hebrew origin, and comes from a kind of sweet bread, similar to the brioche, that used to be prepared for the Sabbath, the holy day of the Jewish religion. The recipe developed into the ensaïmada we now know thanks to the converted Jews who stayed to live on Mallorca after the diaspora – a recipe that has not changed since then, over 500 years ago: strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, sourdough and lard. Originally in the Jewish homes of Mallorca, it was prepared using olive oil instead of lard. It was in 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain, that the converts were obliged to make an external display of their Christian faith by eating things forbidden by their previous religion. These prohibited foodstuffs included lard, or pork fat, which from that moment on replaced olive oil in the method of this ancient recipe. Simple, and yet delicious!
In the 17th century, we find the first texts that speak of the Ensaïmada de Mallorca, which now enjoys Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication, recognised as such since 1996. It was from the 18th century on that it began to be popularly consumed amongst the middle and upper classes, who accompanied the cake with a cup of hot chocolate for their afternoon tea. The ensaïmada achieved significant popularity, and started to be exported to other countries in the 19th century.
Mallorca has a grand tradition of baking breads and pastries, two of the oldest guilds on the island. Which is why there is a host of places where you can try an exquisite ensaïmada. Although we would like to propose the following five places, which are very traditional among the inhabitants of the island, and where you will doubtless enjoy the experience.
Five places you can eat a delicious ensaïmada
For an ensaïmada accompanied by an artisanal ice cream or a hot chocolate, the best option is the emblematic Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo, established in the year 1700 and now with three establishments in Palma. You simply must taste one along with a glass of ‘meringue milk’ (leche merengada) ice cream, one of the most authentic options.
El Horno de Santo Cristo, with over 60 years of experience: you can eat the ensaïmada on the premises or take it home with you in the original, typical octagonal cardboard box.
In Inca, in the centre of the island, the small, discrete Forn de Sant Francesc contains some wonderful sweetmeats. Here you can try the ensaïmada that won the prize for The Best Ensaimada in the World in the first competition of its kind, held in 2017.
And in our own area, we recommend two establishments. In Cala d’Or, very close to our hotels, you will find a local Forn i pastisseria Terrassa, which has been making one of the best ensaïmadas in the Migjorn region since 1936. And in the tiny town of S’Horta, 7 kilometres from our hotels, is the Forn de S’Horta, a traditional bakery with cafeteria service where you can try a delicious ensaïmada with your favourite drink in the sunshine.
And naturally, we invite you to try the delicious ensaïmada we have prepared for you in our Inturotel buffets. We look forward to seeing you in Mallorca.