Whenever we travel to a country or a specific region, one of the things that we most desire, as food enthusiasts, is to get to know in depth the cuisine and the most traditional recipes. Undoubtedly, traditional desserts and pastries in general play a fundamental role in the recipes of each place, being these a summary of the traditions and the ways of understanding the cuisine according to the customs and the ingredients that were more at hand.
It is impossible to condense the entire gastronomic history of a country’s desserts in a single article. However, in this list we have tried to show you a traditional dessert from each Autonomous Community in Spain in order to offer a brief sample of all those recipes that have been a key to identity in the kitchen of the regions where they flood the counters and shop windows.
Starting out strong, Andalusia is the largest autonomous community in Spain. That is why it is overflowing with traditional desserts in every corner. Many of them are sweets made from olive oil, almonds and such traditional flavours as cinnamon, lemon and orange.
In this case we have chosen the Piononos from Granada for their uniqueness and special flavour. Although other traditional Andalusian desserts such as almojábanas (profiteroles with cheese) or mantecados have maintained their reputation for centuries, the Piononos have been a success in the city since their creation in the 19th century in the town of Santa Fe. A dessert with a strong cinnamon flavour and with a yolk cream that drives anyone crazy.
In the case of Aragón we do refer to an old and very traditional recipe, the refollau from Ayerbe. It is a flat pastry simply seasoned with oil and sugar, in the same way as the Burgos Oil Torta. This sweet has a soft and tasty crumb that contrasts with the golden and attractive crust. An unknown bun that is worth highlighting and whose name comes from the folds that are made in the dough called follas (leaves).
This dessert is especially typical of the Asturian capital, Oviedo, since its inhabitants are known as carbayones, in memory of the city’s most famous carbayón or oak in Asturian, which was almost 500 years old. It is a dessert created at the beginning of the 20th century by José Gutiérrez to provide the capital with a sweet of its own. It consists of a puff pastry filled with a delicious mixture of egg, ground almond and covered with a syrup made of yolk, lemon, sugar and cinnamon.
The polvito uruguayo is a very interesting dessert typical of the island of Gran Canaria, being today one of the most famous of all the islands. Its origin is not entirely Uruguayan, as it was invented by Susana Elisa Lanús Berrutti in her restaurant El Novillo Precoz in the city of Las Palmas. Of Uruguayan origin, Susana tried to prepare the famous chajá, one of the most typical of Uruguay, in the mid-80s. However, not remembering the recipe well, she mixed whipped cream, dulce de leche, biscuits and meringues; resulting in the famous dessert we know today – a delicacy only suitable for sweet-toothed people!
Ensaimada from Mallorca is a sweet, fermented and baked roll made with strong flour, water, sugar, eggs, yeast and lard. In fact, its name means “buttered” dough, because “saïm” in Mallorcan means lard. It can be eaten alone or filled with different products such as sobrassada, cream, burnt cream, cabello de angel or chocolate.
The Mallorcan ensaimada is a traditional confectionery product of the island and the archipelago; as it has been made and consumed without interruption for centuries. The first written references to this recipe date back to the 17th century, when ensaimadas were made for parties and celebrations. A PGI product that surprises everyone who comes to the islands!
Cantabria stands out for its excellent cuisine, where the sea and the mountains mix. The sobao is born in the Pasiego valleys, with their soft and warm microclimates, where there is a large livestock farm that produces very good quality milk, and the butter that is derived from it is one of the main ingredients of the sobao. The Sobao Pasiego Protected Geographical Indication focuses on the area known as El Pas; located in the centre of the Cantabrian community – a simple but delicious dessert!
Flores fritas are very traditional in the La Mancha province of Ciudad Real, where this dessert in the shape of a Calatrava cross is prepared with a specific mould that gives it its curious and attractive shape. This is a simple preparation based on a fried dough; which can then be covered with sugar, cinnamon or even honey or chocolate. Nowadays they can be found in many Spanish cities, even in the oldest churrerias in Madrid.
The Tarta de San Marcos is, without doubt, one of the most traditional in Spain. Its history dates back to the 12th century, when the Infanta Sancha Raimúndez de León visited the Convent of San Marcos, one of the architectural gems of the city of León due to its striking use of the Plateresque style.
This cake was created as a tribute to the Infanta for her contributions that made possible the construction of the temple, which was originally dedicated to the “poor of Christ”, all those pilgrims who made the French Way to Santiago and decided to rest in León. A cake full of traditional flavours such as almonds, cream and toasted egg yolk.
Crema catalana is a delicious cream with a lemon and cinnamon flavour, typical of the autonomous community of Catalonia. A caramelised cream with a burner that leaves no one indifferent due to its soft and light texture. A dessert that is never lacking in the region and has become one of the most traditional desserts in all of Spain.
Despite the fact that Madrid is a city full of traditions from many other regions due to its status as a great capital, some old recipes still persist and are deeply rooted in Madrid’s tradition. One of the most recognized and somewhat forgotten traditional desserts today is bartolillo. A small fried pastry filled with a delicious pastry cream that can be flavoured with lemon, cinnamon or vanilla. A dessert that, presented with icing sugar on top, does not make us doubt its antiquity.
Pumpkin or sweet potato pastissets are among the most typical and traditional desserts in the entire cuisine of the Valencian Community. Also known as Pastissos de Nadal in Valencia and Castellón as they are traditional for Christmas, they are also prepared throughout the region for all celebrations where tradition and culture are present. That is why there is no shortage of sweet potato pastissets at Easter or on All Saints’ Day.
Perrunillas are one of those traditional desserts that have accompanied us faithfully throughout our lives. Also known as perronillas or perrunillos, these traditional pastries are present in almost all our geography; although they have their centre of diffusion in Extremadura. A convent dessert that many of us buy when we visit the monasteries where the nuns prepare sweets such as mantecados, yemas de Santa Teresa, magdalenas or rosquillas, depending on the region.
Tarta de Santiago is one of the most traditional desserts in the country and the most famous in Galicia. A simple almond-based delicacy whose origins date back to the 16th century; when this preparation became a luxury product for the most powerful. Today, however, it is a recipe that you can all emulate at home or taste in some of the most traditional bakeries in the beautiful Galician terra. However, the real recipe of the Tarta de Santiago does not contain any flour!
These canutillos de crema are very typical of the northern area of Navarre, although they are present throughout the region. A recipe in which homemade puff pastry and pastry cream are an indissoluble marriage, thus forming a mouth-watering combination. The curious thing about this recipe is that the puff pastry used is not the typical French one, but a pastry of the “quebrada” or “brisa” type; made with butter or lard, depending on the area of Navarre where we are.
The panchineta or pantxineta is one of the most representative and traditional desserts of the Basque Country created in 1915 in the Casa Otaegui bakery. A pastry that has become a classic in the city of San Sebastián with many followers. It is a puff pastry with almonds, pastry cream and jam; very easy and quick to prepare, which will delight lovers of sweet tooth.
As with the Madrid bartolillos, oblivion has tried to put an end to another of Spain’s traditional desserts: pears in red wine typical of La Rioja. A traditional recipe from Rioja’s golmajeria (as sweets are called there); these pears boiled slowly in wine and redeemed with cinnamon have a surprising taste that leaves no one indifferent. And even more so if you use the Rincón de Soto pears with PDO, a variety famous for its tasty, firm flesh that can withstand the cooking required to make this dessert.
To close our list of the most traditional desserts of each community, we bring you the typical paparajotes of the Region of Murcia. Born as a simple and humble dessert, the recipe places great importance on the lemon tree leaf; the base on which a light dough made of eggs, flour and milk is fried. This recipe undoubtedly belongs to the Murcian garden, one of the most fruitful and abundant in all of Spain. This dessert is easy to make and will undoubtedly surprise you, as long as you can get lemon tree leaves.
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