This is one of the most iconic pastries in Spain, earning such a renowned status because it is delicious, not just in flavour but in texture, too.
Omar says the secret is in the rolling, over and over until you achieve really thin layers. Traditionally eaten with icing sugar or a savoury filling like sobrasada pork sausage.
7g dried yeast, or if using fresh yeast, 16g
200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
600g very strong flour
Pinch of salt
100g soft lard
3 tbsp icing sugar
Vegetable oil, for greasing
50g (2oz) Sobrasada de Mallorca mixed with 50g lard
Pour 230ml (1 cup) water into a bowl and add the dried yeast. Allow to dilute and then add the caster sugar, eggs, flour and salt. Mix together to form a dough and then knead for a good 15 minutes, until the dough is so elastic you can almost see through it if stretched.
Set aside to rest for 30 minutes, then cut into 4 equal pieces and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
Grease the work surface and a rolling pin with vegetable oil.
Flatten one of the dough portions against the worktop with the palm of your hand and roll it out to a very thin rectangle about 20 x 60cm (8 x 24in). Let rest for 2 minutes while you spread a quarter of the lard over it with your fingers.
Now, grab a corner of the flattened dough and stretch it out as far as it will go without breaking and repeat every 10cm (4in) or so around the dough in every direction until you have a rectangle about 50 x 70cm (20 x 28in).
Cut a 5-cm (2-in) strip from one of the long sides of the rectangle and place it over the end of the perpendicular side of the rectangle (this is what is called the heart of the ensaïmada).
Since this style of dough, like pizza dough, is always slightly thicker around the edges, it helps to have an extra layer of dough in the very heart of the pastry to provide some extra thickness.
Additionally, when it bakes, the heart remains doughy and moist.
Wrap a thin layer of dough over the heart and keep rolling it over itself until you have a long pastry snake.
Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
Grab the first roll of pastry you made and stretch it until it is over a metre (40in) long. Then roll it up in a spiral, leaving 1cm (½in) between each spiral.
Flatten a little and transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Repeat with the remaining pastries.
Leave in a humid, fresh (14°C/57°F) and enclosed environment for no more than 12 hours. You will know it is ready when the pastry coils have risen and expanded enough to stick together.
When you are ready to start baking, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Put the baking sheet in the top third of the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Bake for about 15 minutes with heat top and bottom and the fan running, until the pastries are a dark golden colour.
Cool the ensaïmada on a wire rack and then dust with a generous amount of icing sugar.
If you want to fill your pastry with Sobrasada de Mallorca, use the Sobrasada-lard paste in the same way as the lard in the main recipe method. It gives a fantastic savoury result.
To fill your ensaïmada with whipped cream or crème pâtissière, cut open the baked pastry, spread it with the cream, sprinkle with sugar and caramelize with a blow torch before closing.
Dive in and enjoy !
Omar has two cookbooks.