In the south of Granada there is town with a great history. In this city the Capitulations for America’s Discovery were signed between Christopher Columbus and the Catholic Monarchs. We are talking about Santa Fe, a town that emerged in the 11th century as a military camp. Its four entrance arches are still preserved today.
But this place is not only famous for this important historical event. It is also famous for being the birthplace of the typical Granada sweet par excellence, the pionono. This small cake is a delight to anyone who tastes it, quite hard to forget. We can identify two parts in this little cake. A very thin layer of moistened pastry rolled up into a cylinder, filled with a special cream and cinnamon. The other one is the toasted cream on top.
We will tell you a little more about one of the oldest treats in Spain. Although there are signs of the existence of a similar sweet in the Arab era, due to the ingredients used in its elaboration, it was not until 1879 that it emerged in Granada.
Its origin is credited to Ceferino Isla, who created it as a tribute to Pope Pius IX (Pio Nono in Italian). Ceferino set up his workshop in Calle Real de Santa Fe (which he called Casa Isla). Due to his great devotion to the Virgin Mary, he decided to create a sweet for the Pope who had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The little cake is reminiscent of the Pope not only by name but also by its shape. Therefore, it is short and kind of chubby, represented by the cylindrical shape of the cake; covered with a white balandran (a folded paper basket in which the cake is placed) and with a zucchetto like the one that covers the top of the Pope’s head, represented by a crown of toasted cream that forms the top of the pionono.
This sweet little cake was liked by everyone who tried it, even King Alfonso XIII was so delighted with its taste that he gave Casa Isla the title of official supplier of the Royal House. This is why the coat of arms of Casa Isla has the five-pointed royal crown.
The recipe is a secret only known in the workshop, although due to its 116th birthday they have reinvented it with new flavors: dark chocolate, white chocolate and tangarine.
If you visit Granada, you have to try them! Both in the capital and in the two establishments in Santa Fe. They will become a bite hard to forget!