looloo’s Premium Ensaymada Blind Taste Test


Now that the ber months are here and Christmas is fast approaching, it only seemed fitting to do a blind taste test featuring one of the most well-loved treats of the season–ensaymada! Though let’s keep it real–we still would’ve scarfed down cheesy, buttery pastries even if it were any other time of the year.

Also, ensaymadas were a welcome change for our palates after doing not one but TWO asado siopao blind taste tests! (Part I included siopaos from quick-service restaurants and part II was for convenience store siopaos)

BTT: Ensaymada Edition

If you’re just as into ensaymadas as we are, read on to find out which one the looloo crew found to be the most delicious and worth spending money on! You’re in for a surprise though because even the judges themselves were shookt!

The Rules

For this blind taste test, we narrowed it down to just premium ensaymadas. If we had included ensaymadas from all the cafes and bakeries in Metro Manila, we would never have made it through the BTT without diabetes.

Using their prices as our gauge, we decided that the ensaymadas from Conti’s (₱42 / piece) Purple Oven (₱70 / piece), Mary Grace (₱85 / piece), and Starbucks Coffee (₱85 / piece) were the perfect premium picks for the BTT. They were significantly more expensive compared to the ensaymadas of Goldilocks and Red Ribbon which were in the 20-peso price range.

The Contenders

The judges (namely Gwen I., Pam L., Peanut D., and Roegan T. of the looloo crew) rated the ensaymadas based on the following criteria: 1) bread, 2) buttercream (we found out that old school ensaymada recipes use butter but the more modern ones use this), 3) cheese, 4) size, and 5) value for money. The lowest possible score for each criterion is 1 and the highest is 5.

The Judges

As with all our other BTTs, the judges were blindfolded and left only with their sense of touch, smell, and taste to figure out which ensaymada was the biggest standout.

The Results

The judges came into the blind taste test with their own biases and they were SO certain that their personal favorites would win. But, as how it always goes in these things, they were totally caught off guard. Let’s just say it was a dark horse that killed it in this BTT.

Ensaymada #1: Conti’s

Conti's Ensaymada

Conti’s Ensaymada

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bread 4.5 5 4 4.5 4.5
Buttercream 4.5 4 4.5 5 4.5
Cheese 4 5 3 4.5 4.125
Size 5 5 5 5 5
Value for Money 5 5 5 5 5

All four of the judges only had good things to say about Conti’s ensaymada bread. Pam L. raved about it, saying: “I liked it ‘cause it was super soft but not airy. It’s not like a pandesal that’s all air so it’s filling.”

The buttercream also got a lot of love. The common comment was that it had just the right amount of sweetness and butteriness and that it blended well with the bread. The cheese, however, got mixed reactions. Peanut D., Gwen I., and Roegan T. liked that it wasn’t too cheesy but Pam L. thought that it could’ve been better with an extra sprinkle or two.

Conti's Ensaymada

Conti’s Ensaymada

As for size and value for money, the judges couldn’t think of anything bad to say. They thought it was the perfect size and that the price wasn’t bad at all, considering it was the cheapest of the bunch.

Conti’s can be found at these locations.

Ensaymada #2: Purple Oven

Purple Oven Ensaymada

Purple Oven Ensaymada

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bread 4 3 4 4 3.75
Buttercream 3 3 3 3 3
Cheese 2 2 3 3 2.5
Size 4.5 4 4.5 4.5 4.375
Value for Money 4.5 4 4.5 5 4.5

In general, Purple Oven’s ensaymada bread got decent scores from the judges who said it was soft and sweet. The lowest rating came from Gwen I. who commented that it didn’t taste all that fresh. She gave it a 3 for that.

As for the buttercream, it got a score of 3 from all the judges, the common observation being that it was too buttery and sugary. And because of that, it was impossible for the flavor of the cheese to shine through. “The cheese was barely there. The sugar overpowered everything,” said Roegan T.

Purple Oven Ensaymada

Purple Oven Ensaymada

Its size and value for money pulled up its overall score, with all of the judges agreeing that its price is appropriate for how hefty and filling it is.

Purple Oven can be found at these locations.

Ensaymada #3: Cafe Mary Grace

Mary Grace Ensaymada

Mary Grace Ensaymada

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bread 4 4 4 4.5 4.125
Buttercream 2 3 3 4 3
Cheese 4 3.5 2 4 3.375
Size 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.375
Value for Money 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.375

Mary Grace’s ensaymada bread scored high marks for being pillowy soft but not airy. The judges also liked that it had more flavor than the other ensaymada breads.

The buttercream, however, was its downfall. According to the judges, it was overwhelmingly sweet and buttery. “There’s way too much sugar. When you bite into it, sugar granules would fall. There’s also way too much butter. I was already starting to have that kinikilabutan feeling,” Peanut D. said. Despite the sugar and butter overload, most of the judges were able to taste the saltiness of the cheese which they appreciated.

Mary Grace Ensaymada

Mary Grace Ensaymada

As for size and value for money, they think Conti’s ensaymada is a much more sulit purchase. They’re practically the same size but you can get Conti’s for half the price.

Cafe Mary Grace can be found at these locations.

Ensaymada #4: Starbucks

Starbucks Ensaymada

Starbucks Ensaymada

Criteria Peanut D. Gwen I. Pam L. Roegan T. Average Score
Bread 3 2 3 2 2.5
Buttercream 2 1 3 1 1.75
Cheese 4 2 3 3 3
Size 4 4.5 4 4 4.125
Value for Money 4 4 3 4 3.75

Everyone’s initial reaction when they first bit into Starbucks’ ensaymada was how hard it was compared to the other three. Roegan T. even compared it to three-day old bread.

The buttercream didn’t fare any better. If they thought Mary Grace’s ensaymada was too sweet and buttery, this one was on another level! They came to the conclusion that while the buttercream was good, there was just way too much of it for the size of the bread. As for the cheese, they barely noticed it was there. “There’s cheese but since there’s so much buttercream it overpowers it. So I can’t really taste it,” said Gwen I.

Starbucks Ensaymada

Starbucks Ensaymada

It’s a good thing the judges found it to be a good size and great value for money. Because it’s much bigger than Mary Grace’s ensaymada but sold for the same price, most of them gave it a 4 for that department.

Starbucks can be found at these locations.

Criteria #1 Conti’s #2 Purple Oven #3 Mary Grace #4 Starbucks
Bread 4.5 3.75 4.125 2.5
Buttercream 4.5 3 3 1.75
Cheese 4.125 2.5 3.375 3
Size 5 4.375 3.375 4.125
Value for Money 5 4.5 3.375 3.75
TOTAL SCORE 23.125 / 25 18.125 / 25 17.25 / 25 15.125 / 25

There you have it, folks! It’s crystal clear who won looloo’s Premium Ensaymada Blind Taste Test. Conti’s ensaymada hit the ball out of the park, earning a total of 23.13 points! It may not be the winner that everyone was expecting (please don’t kill us, Mary Grace fans) but it sure is one heck of a pleasant surprise!

Let us know which one is your favorite ensaymada!

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About Author

Denise Jose

Denise is a recovering food addict. She distracts herself with photography and keeps off the pounds by doing pilates. She is still struggling, however, and has occasional relapses. Her food comas are mostly induced by oily burgers and chocolate desserts.