How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada

This Sourdough Ensaymada is adapted from my yeasted Ensaymada recipe. Both recipes give an Ensaymada bread that is light and fluffy, but the sourdough version has a very slightly delightful tang but still delicious.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter at home. Then I can show you how here,

How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada

I originally baked Ensaymada using commercial yeast, and this is my first time to modify my recipe to work without yeast and still get soft bread. For my love for Filipino bread, I developed this sourdough version to enhance Ensaymada bread nutrition and flavor.

I already share my other Filipino sourdough bread recipes, if you also want to try them: Sourdough Pandesal, 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Pandesal, and Sourdough Spanish Bread.

What is Ensaymada

Ensaymada is a Filipino version of brioche and Spanish in origin. This bread is one of my favorite snacks back at home. And I loved this bread, especially when it is covered with lots of margarine and sugar and if you’re lucky you can buy some with grated cheese on top.

Recipe Ingredients

Because the ingredients in Sourdough Ensaymada are simple, each of them is important:

Sourdough starter: It is important that your starter is active and bubbly before using it for baking bread. I prepare my starter a little different for this Sourdough Ensaymada. I usually feed my starter with only water and flour, but after a few experiments, I added a small amount of sugar. This reduces the sourness of the final bread. I store my starter in the fridge when I’m not baking, so I start taking it out from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. Then take 50 grams of starter from the mother starter and feed it with flour, water, and sugar.

Flour: you don’t need any fancy bread flour, just use cake flour, all-purpose flour, Type 00 Italian flour, or T45 flour.

Egg yolks: Use room temperature so they combine more easily.

Butter: The best butter to use to make this recipe is unsalted butter. Also, make sure your butter is room temperature and soft but not melted. If possible, go with grass-fed cultured butter for maximum flavor and a soldier consistency.

Equipment and tools

  • mature sourdough starter
  • digital weighing scale
  • a stand mixer with a dough hook (but you can also knead the dough by hand)
  • brioche forms with a diameter of 10 cm or 25 inches or muffin pan
  • bench scraper
  • large bowl or plastic tub with a lid
  • digital thermometer (optional)

To make these Sourdough Ensaymada, I used my brioche molds, which I bought last year when we took our first vacation in the Philippines. They called it brioche molds, and you can find them at any local baking supplies store and online.

If you don’t have this type of mold, don’t worry, you can use your regular muffin pan. Or coil the dough and place them in a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Proofing the dough

Let the dough rise at room temperature between 4 to 8 hours until it just doubled in size. The period depends on the warmth of your kitchen, so don’t let the dough prove a long time, or they will be overproof and collapse.

After the dough has double in size, transfer it in the fridge. It is easier to shape when the dough is fully cooled. Also, overnight proofing allows the dough to develop more flavor.

Quick tips for achieving soft, fluffy, and not so sour Sourdough Ensaymada

  • Make sure your sourdough starter is strong and active before using it. I don’t bake sourdough dough bread every day, so I keep my starter in the fridge. So, before I bake sourdough bread, I usually feed my starter three times before I used it for my sourdough baking.
  • The optimum time for me to use my starter is when I can see that my levain has double or triple its volume, has a lot of bubbles at its surface, and use it before it deflates.
  • If you want to make the dough in the morning, this means your starter should be fed the night before. Allow the dough to ferment at room temperature during the day then transfer in the fridge before you go to the bed. Take the dough out in the morning, shape the dough, and set them aside to rise then bake.
  • After experimenting with this recipe three times, I got a better taste after using a sweet starter. This means that I fed my starter with a little amount of sugar.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada
  • To make the Ensaymada extra fluffier, I used the Tangzhong technique, where I made a roux of flour and water or milk. It helps the dough to hold more moisture, and the bread resists staling for days.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada
  • Feel free to experiment with sugar and butter. But if you’re adding more fat, the dough is likely to take longer to prove.
  • And for the fluffiest Sourdough Ensaymada, allow your dough to rise until it doubles in size. I use my oven for this, I put the dough inside and let it ferment there. This way, I can control the temperature of my dough because I have a thermometer inside my oven, and it always stays at 25 degrees Celcius (77F).
  • For evenly sized bread, I use my kitchen scale to make sure the dough is evenly divided. It is simple – I weigh the whole dough and divide it into how much bread I want to make.
  • It is important to work really quickly with this dough, it comes up to room temperature quickly and can be really sticky and tough to work with as it warms.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada

If you also hate throwing your sourdough discard, check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

Below is my recipe for Sourdough Ensaymada using a sweet starter and a stand mixer with a dough hook.

If you have tried this recipe or any other recipe on my blog, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below. I love hearing from you! 😊

You can also follow me on Pinterest, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube to see what I am getting up to.

You will need:

For the sweet starter

  • 50 grams sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 100 grams water
  • 100 grams bread flour
  • 50 grams granulated white sugar

For the Tangzhong dough

  • 15 grams all-purpose
  • 75 grams water

For the main Sourdough Ensaymada dough

  • 125 grams milk, lukewarm (I used whole milk with 3% milkfat)
  • 200 grams active and bubbly sweet sourdough starter
  • 40 to 50 grams granulated white sugar, adjust how sweet you want your bread to be
  • 2 egg yolks, large and at room temperature
  • all the Tangzhong dough
  • 315 grams cake flour, all-purpose flour, Type 00 Italian flour, or T45 flour (I used cake flour)
  • 6 grams fine sea salt
  • 55 grams unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

For the topping

  • softened butter or margarine
  • sugar
  • grated cheese


  • extra butter, for greasing the ensaymada molds

Procedure (video):

For the sourdough starter

  1. Prepare the starter and leave it to ferment until active and bubbly for about 6 to 12 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the strength of your starter.

    If your starter is from the fridge, repeat the process every day, around the same hour, if possible. I fed my starter (from the refrigerator) three times before I used it for this recipe.

For the Tangzhong dough

  1. Mix flour and water in a saucepan. Cook and heat it over low heat and under vigorous stirring until it becomes thick like a paste. Don’t walk away during this process. To quicken the cooling process, I put it in the fridge or place it on a deep plate with cold water in it, while preparing everything else.
  2. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the Tangzhong dough into a bowl, and cover. Let it cool to room temperature before using.

For the main Sourdough Ensaymada dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the lukewarm milk and active sweet sourdough starter. Then add sugar, egg yolks, and the lukewarm Tangzhong dough. Whisk again until combined. Stir in the flour and salt for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. With the dough hook attachment, mix the dough mixture for about 5 minutes. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Now spread the softened butter over the dough and knead it until the dough become smooth and passes the windowpane testI knead my dough for about 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a light grease bowl or plastic tub, cover with a plastic film or a lid and let rest for 30 minutes.

Bulk fermentation

  1. 1 x Stretch and fold: Wet your hand, then pull and fold the dough over itself and do this step to all sides. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. 4 x Coil and fold: Using your wet hands on both sides, scoop your fingers under the dough. Lift the dough and allow it to stretch then fold the dough over itself. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat the process on four sides—Puff all the bubble air. Using your instant-read thermometer, check the temperature of the dough. The right dough temperature should be around 23C or 74F. If the dough temperature is low, you should increase your bulk period and vice versa. After the last coil and foil, perform another gluten stretch test. If your dough didn’t pass the test, rest it again for 30 minutes and take the test again. Once it passes the test, perform the last coil and fold, cover, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Repeat the same coil and fold process three times.

Bulk fermentation – Undisturbed

  1. After the final coil and fold, let the dough rest at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours until it doubles in size. I recommend placing a rubber band around the outside of your container at the level of the dough. It will then easy to see when the dough has risen double its size. My dough took 4 hours before it doubles in size. The longer the dough rests, the deeper the taste of sourdough becomes.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer the bowl or tub to the fridge overnight (6 to 12 hours) for long fermentation. The longer the dough rests, the deeper the taste of sourdough becomes.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada


  1. Grease your brioche molds or muffin pan with margarine or butter.
  2. Lightly flour your work surface. Take the dough out of the fridge (I find it easy to handle the dough while it is cold and firm.), punch it down then divide it into equal portions. My dough weighed 835 grams, and I divided it into 6 dough portions of 110 grams and 1 dough portion of 175 grams.

    The dough is quite wet and sticky, so it can be a bit tricky to shape them. So, I recommend lightly floured your hands while you’re shaping the dough. Please watch my video tutorial here for guidance on how I shape my Sourdough Ensaymada.


  • Then shape each dough into a ball.
  • For round ensaymada: Shape each dough into balls and pinch to seal. Place them in the prepared molds or muffin pan.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada
  • For coil ensaymada: Shape each dough into balls, flatten out, and brush with margarine or butter. Roll like a jelly roll and coil to form ensaymada. Place them in the prepare molds or muffin pan, or you can place them in a baking tray lined with baking paper, making sure they’re at least 2 inches of space between each dough.
How to Make Soft Sourdough Ensaymada

Final proofing

  1. Cover with lightly floured plastic film or using a large and deep baking tray and set the dough aside to rise at room temperature until it increases in size to 50% and is light and airy. My dough took 3 hours before it becomes light and airy.

To check if your Ensaymada dough is ready to bake, perform the finger poke test. If you poke the dough with a lightly floured finger and the dough springs back, it’s not ready to bake yet. If it springs back slowly and leaves a bit of an indent, then it is ready.

Baking the Sourdough Ensaymada

  1. When your dough is almost ready to preheat the oven (conventional heating function) to 180 degrees Celsius (350F).
  2. Put the dough in the oven (on the lower third rack) and bake for 12 minutes. Adjust the baking time according to the size of your dough.
  3. The sourdough Ensaymada are done with the instant ready thermometer read 88C to 90C (190F to 194F) or until it sounds hollow when you top at the bottom.
  4. Take out of the oven and let the Sourdough Ensaymada cool in molds for 10 minutes. Remove from the molds and cool completely on a wire rack. Then cover with a clean kitchen cloth.


  1. Brush or spread the baked Sourdough Ensaymada with softened butter or margarine, dust generously with sugar, and top with grated cheese. Enjoy!


  • You can warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave it for about 10 to 20 seconds.
  • You may warm the eggs in a glass of warm water if you are in a hurry.
  • I use brioche molds with a diameter of 10 cm or 25 inches.
  • You may brush the dough with egg wash right before baking if desired.
  • This dough is best mixed using a stand mixer. The dough is wet and sticky, therefore it requires heavy mixing and kneading if done by hand.
  • Overnight fermentation of the dough in the fridge aids in flavor development.
  • Cooled Sourdough Ensaymada can be tightly stored in a Ziploc bag and stored in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost at room temperature.

Have you ever made Sourdough Ensaymada? Is your recipe or method different to this one? Or have you tried this recipe? Let me know in the comment section below. 😊

Thanks for visiting my site. Paula xoxo ❤


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  1. Hi! Looking forward in trying out this recipe and give it as Christmas gifts! I was just wondering if I could use bread flour instead of cake flour? Will it make a difference? Thank you!

  2. Thank you very much for sharing all these Filipino recipes using sourdough starter! I was able to bake the pandesals with your recipe…and even shared to my neighbor who shared the recipe to his Mom. My neighbor was the one who gave me the starter. I will try to make some more of your recipes one of these days. Thanks again!


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