The Majorcan ensaïmada is a pastry product with great tradition on the island, which has been continuously made and eaten on Majorca for a very long time. The first written references to the Majorcan ensaïmada date back to the 17th century. At that time, although wheat flour was mainly used for making bread, there is evidence that this typical pastry product was made for festivals and celebrations.
The "ensaïmada de Mallorca" is made with strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough and pork lard. The handmade character of the product makes it difficult to give an exact formula, so scales have been established defining the proportion of each ingredient, giving rise to an excellent quality traditional product. The name comes from the Mallorquí word "saïm" (taken from Arabic), which means pork lard.
A lot of variants of the ensaïmada exists, mainly adding some extra ingredient. The most common of them are:
Ensaïmades outside the Balearic Islands of Spain usually taste very different, mainly because pork lard is not used outside the Islands. To tell whether pork lard has been used, if one can't tell by taste, a true ensaïmada must stain a piece of paper with the pork lard (which when heated has a similar texture to oil). In the Philippines, a Spanish colony for nearly 400 years, the Majorcan ensaimada has evolved over the centuries into a rather unusual variation, commonly spelled ensaymada in Tagalog, that is made with butter instead of lard and topped with grated cheese (usually aged Edam, known locally as "queso de bola") and sugar. It is much richer than the Majorcan original and is extremely popular throughout the islands, especially during the Christmas season. It is often, though not always, eaten with hot chocolate.