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Apricot and almond ensaimada

Baking Dessert
Makes 2 pastries

The amount of pork lard that goes into a real ensaimada makes my version seem as wholesome as kale salad. Don't be fooled though; this is a luxurious treat you can serve warm (it heats up well) at the end of a meal, alongside lightly sweetened Greek yoghurt with some grated orange zest folded through.


50g muscatel raisins or other raisins, roughly chopped 1 tsp 
3 tbsp orange liquor such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
100g unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly whisked
40g ground almonds
70g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
7 apricots, stone removed: 4 cut into ½ cm dice, 3 cut in half onl
1 orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
40g flaked almonds
500g puff pastry
½ tsp icing sugar
1 tsp runny honey


  1. Soak the chopped muscatel raisins in the orange liquor for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. In a mixer beat the butter and sugar until light, airy and pale in colour. Slowly add the eggs, a little bit at a time; if the mixture looks split add a bit of flour to bring it back together. Finally, add the ground almonds, flour and a ¼ of a teaspoon of salt and beat just until everything comes together. Fold in by hand the diced apricots, raisins and alcohol, orange and lemon zest and flaked almonds. Set aside.
  3. Dust your work surface with a little bit for flour and roll the puff pastry into a rectangle, 2-3 millimetres thick. Trim the edges down to 50cm long and 30cm wide rectangle and then cut it in into two rectangles, both measuring 15cm x 50cm. Spread the almond paste thinly over both of the pastry rectangles, leaving a 2cm border along the long edges.
  4. Taking one rectangle first, gently roll the longest edge over itself and roll the whole sheet into a long sausage, the seam facing down. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place one end in the centre of the tray and wrap around in a coil form, leaving a slight gap in the centre. Fold the end underneath the coil to seal it shut, brushing with a little egg to help stick. Repeat the same process with the 2nd pastry rectangle. 
  5. Place 3 apricot halves in the centre of each of the coils, slightly overlapping and forming a flower pattern. Brush the remaining egg over the pastry and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes and then turn down to 170C and continue cooking for another 45 minutes. The two ensaimadas should be golden-brown all over. Cool on a wire rack, dust with the icing sugar and brush the apricots with some runny honey before serving warm or at room temperature.