September 7th, 2011
Spanish food….loved all over the world. Rich Olive oil harvested from the sun drenched hillsides, plump Tomatoes full of Spanish sun, robust flavours of Garlic, Goats cheese and glorious Seafood from the North…The gastronomy is one of the strong forces that pull tourists to Spain every year, who would blame them? But what about the Pudding? It seems Oranges are not the only fruit!
Let’s explore the delicious sweet course of Spain!
…with breakfast of course! Forget the bacon and eggs fry up and imagine yourself on a sunny Spanish street, perhaps at one of the many markets shopping for lunch. Stop and join the throng at the most popular stall of all, the Churro vendor.
Long, crispy deep fried doughnuts dipped in thick strong chocolate, this breakfast will set you up for haggling! To be found on every corner of every market in Spain, and usually in every packed bar until at least midday.
Sweet Island living
Visiting the wonderful island of Mallorca? Then remember to try out their breakfast specialty of Ensimadas, those rolled clouds of light pastry, sometimes filled with custard, if not, dip them in your breakfast coffee admiring the sea views from your Mallorcan rental! Hey, October is the Dia de Ensimada, have a whole Fiesta’s worth of them, why not?
Kicking the habit
So, what is the history of dessert, or Postre, in Spain? The Moors were influential in a lot of the recipes still used today, just look at the ingredients to discover Almonds, Honey, Dates, Figs...all originally brought from warmer Africa.
The convents here were also responsible for making and selling pastries and sweet treats, usually from a grille in the convent door. In particular the areas of Andalucía and Castile y Leon. Look at Ávila, where the production of Yemas is still virulent today ….made from egg yolks and dusted with icing sugar.
Or visit Medina Sidonia, and have a munch on some post dinner Alfajores whilst enjoying a night time stroll around the town. the rolled spicy sweet delicacy that is stuffed with Honey, Almonds and sweet spices. Then roll yourself into one of the holiday homes in the region for rent here!
Heading North for Autumn? All those wine fiestas coming up…but remember to soak it all up with lots of local food, and don’t forget the pud! In Cantabria you can enjoy a Gypsy’s Arm! Brazo de Gitano on the menu… Not so cannibalistic, actually a delicious swiss roll affair, plain sponge or chocolate, filled with a cream layer and rolled up before dusting with icing sugar. Usually served with fresh fruit on the side…well, there has to be a healthy slant here somewhere!
Or over to Asturias, and it’s good old Apple Tart, like your abuela used to make! In Spanish, ask for Empanada de Manzana. Actually more like an Apple Strudel than a pie, but softer and sweeter, with apples and pears…perfect for some cold ice cream when it’s hot from the oven. All that wine, all that pudding, here, let me help you ….have a rest in a wonderful holiday home on the green coast.
Take two – from France?
I’m sure that more than one Spaniard would argue with this one – but yes, these two were originally from France, now staples of the Spanish Pudding diet!
The famed Magdalena, a fairy cake really, where I live in Andalucía always flavoured with Lemon but still very sweet and also always in the oven here at home or in the cupboard. A firm favourite with school-kids for Merienda, that after- school -before -dinner snack with a glass of milk. Or another kids breakfast favourite, dipped into hot milk…
And the other one? Well, Flan. A now firmly Spanish egg custard set in flat terracotta dish, served cold with liquid caramel topping. Versions include Crema Catalana from Catalonia, and regional variations..a neighbour here infuses orange water,delicious any way up!
Then this one is not for you! Turrón – there are different types, ranging from soft and chewy to hard and indestructible but still delicious!
Honey and almonds are the main ingredients, another thing to thank the Moors for, little pieces of glacé fruit enliven some types, nuts others, blocks of candy stripes of pink and white. I love this stuff, and so does my dentist! The best quality one to look out for is the ‘suprema’ which must be made with at least 60% Almonds. After that comes ‘Extra’, ‘Standard’, and lastly ‘Popular’.
You’ll find it at airports, everywhere at Christmas time and the factory if you want to visit it is located in Alicante, the Museo del Turrón. It makes a great gift as a souvenir from your holidays, but believe me, once you taste it then you’ll be hooked! The factory makes a great day out,if you’re self catering in the Alicante region, and of course tasting is obligatory!
Speaking of Christmas, Spanish tables are incomplete without an array of sweets and little biscuits, fruit dipped in darkest chocolate, plates heaving with Turron, Polverónes, Mantecado…whew! Just look at the tableaux below….Hold those scales!
I know Christmas probably seems around the corner in rainy Britain, but here in Spain the sun is still shining brightly, so plan your pudding fest and visit this Autumn!
Also thanks to my 12 yr old in house researcher and chief taster!