Sweet cheese brioche

Sweet cheese brioche


7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Ensaymada is the first food I look for when landing in the Philippines and the last item I eat before leaving. For its numerous fans, there are few things better.

Ensaymada typifies the Filipino preference for contrasting flavours. Here, sugar-whipped butter and sharp cheese are pitted against each other with delicious results. This recipe by Ernie Babaran, Director for Pastry and Baking Arts at the International School for Culinary Arts, was originally published in popular Filipino food magazine, Yummy; it has been adapted here. The soft, chewy brioche is best the day it is made.


Quantity Ingredient

Brioche dough

Quantity Ingredient
250ml milk
10g dried yeast
1 egg
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
450g bread flour
100g plain flour
60g unsalted butter, softened and chopped, plus extra for brushing
120g finely grated edam cheese

Buttercream cheese icing

Quantity Ingredient
125g unsalted butter
120g icing sugar, sifted
120g finely grated edam cheese


  1. To make the dough, heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until lukewarm. Whisk in the yeast to combine well, then stand in a warm place for 8 minutes, or until it starts to froth. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the egg, sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add both of the flours and beat until a dough forms, about 2 minutes. Using a dough hook, knead at low speed for 4 minutes. Add the butter, then knead at medium speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover and stand in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  2. Knock back the dough, then divide into ten even-sized pieces, about 90 g each. Roll each piece into a ball, then stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll lengthwise to form a rough 20 x 10 cm oval. Brush generously with the extra softened butter, then top with a heaped tablespoon of the grated cheese, leaving a border at each edge. Roll up lengthwise to enclose the filling, then place on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the remaining balls, butter and cheese.
  4. Grease 10 brioche tins. Coil each rope to form a snail, tucking the ends underneath, then place in the brioche tins. Place the tins on two baking trays and stand, covered, in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Working with one tray at a time, cover the tins with a sheet of baking paper, then bake for 13 minutes, or until risen and light golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the tins. Repeat with the remaining brioche.
  6. To make the buttercream icing, use an electric mixer to beat the butter in a bowl for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
  7. Place the cheese in a shallow dish. Spread the buttercream icing over the top and sides of each ensaymada, then dip into the grated cheese to lightly coat.

What is it?

  • In Spanish, edam cheese is known as queso de bola. Literally ‘ball cheese’, its name is attributed to its distinctive spherical shape. The term, as well as a taste for the sharp Dutch cheese, has been preserved in the Philippines from the colonial era, when it was shipped in from Europe. With its wax coating and high salt content, edam was able to last the long journeys by sea and made its way to numerous distant countries. In the Philippines, it is a favourite during Christmas, added to dishes such as kaldereta for richness, and the classic topping for ensaymada. Today, other sharp cheeses, such as Gouda and parmesan are also used.
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