As we mentioned in the previous post, we find ourselves in a period of celebration and reflection.
With the arrival of Holy Week along with its processions, chants and horns, an amazing fervor is also reborn for the popular and traditional cuisine of this time of year, in which desserts are the true protagonists. They are a good way to sweeten the enjoyment of these holidays.
Throughout mainland Spain you can find a wide range of pastries, from the classic “torrijas” to the “monas de pascua” or Ester buns. None of which will leave a bitter taste in your mouth for having tried them.
To start off, let’s start with “TORRIJAS”, the sweet par excellence. The key is in its simplicity, a slice of bread soaked in milk, breaded in egg and fried in olive oil. To finish a little sugar on top, mmmm … it is a real delicacy for the senses. Although it can be found throughout the country, it is especially associated with Madrid and central Spain.
We continue with the well-known “MONAS DE PASCUA”, more frequently found in the Levante area, in regions such as Murcia, Valencia and parts of Castilla la Mancha. It is a bun made of flour, eggs, sugar and salt. Its preparation requires patience because the dough needs to be left for more than an hour before cooking. Its traditional form is a sponge cake base on which decorated boiled eggs are placed. Although it has evolved, and today, you can find them in different forms in some cases chocolate eggs have replaced the traditional boiled ones.
A variety of the traditional “mona” is ”PAN QUEMAO” or “PÀ SOCARRAT”, typically baked in the region of Valencia, it uses as the same bun as the Mona de Pascua, as its base keeping the spongy and white texture inside but with a toasted darker outer layer that gives rise to its name literally “Burnt Bread”. It is then decorated with sugar forming different patterns on the on the outer toasted layer.
However, not all Easter buns are the same. In Catalonia you will find CHOCOLATE MONAS, true works of art, for which master pastry chefs use their imagination to shape creative and fun chocolate figures. Any figure and size is possible, Easter eggs, rabbits, castles… Tradition dictates that godparents are responsible for giving them to their godchildren. Each chocolate figure is filled with a chocolate egg to represent each year since the children’s first Communion.
If you still feel peckish, why not try “PESTIÑOS DE MIEL”. It is a typical dessert in the south of Spain, especially in Andalusia. It is simple to prepare and is traditionally made as a family activity. The dough is made with orange, cinnamon, sesame, sugar, flour and white wine, and then fried in olive oil. Finally honey is added and it is ready to eat!
How can we forget “ROLLOS FRITOS” (FRIED ROLLS) also known as “ROSQUILLAS”. They are very characteristic of Castilla la Mancha and have their origin in the sweet dough rings like doughnuts that were made in Italy during the Roman Empire. In the shape of a ring and made of milk, egg, flour, aniseed, cinnamon, orange peel and a fine coating of sugar,, they have become a succulent and irresistible traditional treat..
And finally, a must, “LECHE FRITA” (FRIED MILK). It is a flour based dessert cooked with milk and sugar, the mixture is thickened to the point where it can be cut into portions to be fried later. It is usually sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. This recipe is typical in the north of Spain.
Although these sweets are enjoyed throughout Holy Week, it is most traditional to eat them on Easter Monday, when, with games, laughter and lots of sugar, family and friends gather to celebrate the final day of this holiday.