In a measuring cup, stir 1/2 cup warm water, 1 package active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar until dissolved. Set aside and let stand until bubbly (about 10 minutes).
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, warm 1/2 cup milk until you see bubbles forming at the edges (about 180F). Remove from heat and stir 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup butter until the butter has melted.
Set aside and let cool until lukewarm.
In a large bowl, combine your yeast mixture, your milk mixture, eggs and 1 1/2 cups flour. Stir until combined. Proceed to add the rest of your flour 1/2 cup at a time combining well after each addition.
Once the dough starts pulling and sticking together in a ball, transfer it into a lightly floured surface.
Knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). When in doubt, knead some more. You want the dough still slightly sticky but elastic. Careful not to over flour your surface or dough.
Oil a large bowl with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place your dough in the bowl and turn to ensure the whole dough is coated.
Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a dry warm place (about 90F - see post for tips) until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
When your dough is ready, transfer it into a lightly floured surface and roll out slightly.
Evenly divide the dough into 12 pieces (see notes).
Flatten each one into a 4x6 inch rectangle.
Brush each piece with melted butter and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Roll the dough tightly up and pinch the edges to seal.
Then roll each one into itself (like a spiral) and place onto your ensaymada moulds (see notes).
Brush the tops of each ensaymada with butter, cover with damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes. I usually just leave it on the counter.
Preheat your oven to 375F and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Do not over bake. Let cool in the mould and when it's cool enough to handle, put your toppings.
Brush the still warm ensaymada with melted butter then dip in a bowl filled with granulated sugar. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Serve warm.
I keep my dough in my oven for the 1st rise. I usually preheat it to about 100F then turn it off just when I'm about to knead my dough. This way, the temperature would have gone down to 90F when I put my dough in. You can use the stay warm feature if you have it.
I use a kitchen scale to make sure my dough is evenly divided.
If you don't have ensaymada moulds, you can use a muffin pan instead.
See post for the complete step-by-step photos and tips for making perfect ensaymada every time.