Spanish Food 101: Pasteles y Postres, La Secunda Parte

You can find the first part of pasteles y postres here, or by scrolling on down. 


Coca de Llavaneres


Or, as Google Translate would have it: “coca de filled puff pastry by angel hair.” Before discovering, as above, that “angel hair” is a pumpkin jam this seemed like a particularly erroneous translation, possibly equalling my asking for an exit when I wanted a receipts in Germany. You’re okay for now, Google translate.

This was eaten at 1.30am on the night of the Festa de San Juan, one of the highlight nights of my trip. And the highlight pastry of my trip. Petardos pasteles. The mother tells me that this cost nearly €30, then griped at having spent nearly €50 on fireworks. Expensive festa. But can you put a price on the look of joy on a child’s face? Why of course you can. But that price exceeds €80. A few days later she would buy an even bigger coca for even more money.

On the Friday of buying, the mother waited outside the pasteleria for over an hour. I used to indignantly proclaim that queuing for food is a waste of time and that I would never do it and people who do are stupid and have too much free time. But in my year off, a year spent staring out a lot of windows and going on wanders, I realised that we all have a lot of free time and that if this is what you want to do with your time then that’s absolutely fine. She caught up on some phone calls and brought tasty treats to the table. Is filing your nails in front of the television a better time spend (yes, if it’s for an overhyped hip, new opening as is too common in London. I stand by that view)?

As with a lot of Spanish pastries, the ingredients and method are quite simple: puff pastry, pine nuts (they love pine nuts. But also can’t hear the difference between “peanuts” and “pine nuts”, just as I struggle to tell the difference between many, many words e.g. por qué [why] and porque [because]) sugar, ground almond, egg, and custard. The best pieces are from the centre as you get more filling and a softer texture, but you will still walk away fulfilled if you eat an edge or corner piece.

Round up the family for 22-23 Juny 2018.


Coca de Llardons


“Sugar! And pork! …It’s wonderful!”

A review of coca de llardons from the son there.

Another typical Catalan coca, again made with sugar, pine nuts, flour and eggs. And, indeed, pork. Pork crackling. Rich, fatty, crunch-then-melt pork rinds. Sweet and savoury. A pastry that would surely be met with chagrin by a lot of English people, but I expect would be quite popular in Chinatown.

A small piece sufficed for me (as I then went on to eat a fair share of the coca de llavaneres) but the rest of the family finished it quite comfortably.

Originally it was eaten towards the end of Lent (from Maundy Thursday. Many good desserts have religious bearing. See particularly: Portuguese custard desserts) and other major Saint Days in Catalunya. My Saint Day is May 15th, but alas the Catalonians are yet to make a specific pastry for dear Saint Sophia; at least Istanbul shows some respect.

On another note, Wikipedia in Catalan is Viquipèdia.


Coca de Sant Joan

coca de sant joan

The traditional pastry of the Festa de Sant Joan. We did nt try this, instead going for the two cocas above. The Coca de Sant Joan looks frightfully unappetising so I wanted to share this picture with you. Like the art project of a colourblind four-year old. I have eaten too many congees in my life to claim that I eat with my eyes at all, but I find something about this particularly off-putting in a way that few other foods put me off. That it has evoked such a reaction means that it is surely worth its place as a holiday treat. Festas are for being bold, not bland.

As you can see, it is a coca covered with candied fruit. The fruit is put on the coca while the dough is still raw and it is all left to ferment for half an hour before baking.


Crema Catalana

crema cat

Eaten on one of the few times that we went to a restaurant.

“Should I have the crema catalana or the mató.”

“Crema Catalana. Is special. I get the mató and you can try some.”

I try some mató then the crema catalana. I was given the correct advice.

Crema catalana, or crema cremada. Look at the picture. Look at the name. Guess what it is like. If you guessed crème brûlée then grab a spoon and crack some sugar because you my friend are correct! There are some slight differences, most notably the custard being flavoured with lemon or orange zest and cinnamon. Spain has been somewhat of a newfound love affair with cinnamon, so, for now at least, crema catalana is my preferred of the burnt cream desserts.

The method for burning the sugar is also different from the brûlée, with caramelisation being achieved by using an iron rather than a flame, resulting in a slightly less hard sugar surface.

You can also find in the yogurt aisle.

Churros con Xocolata


One of the few sweet treats in life that I can’t seem to get behind. The only times that I have eaten churros have been in Mexican restaurants. I once came close to ruining my favourite dress (Friday dress, so-called because I used to wear it on Fridays) having dropped chocolate on it.

Ingredients and process-wise, it is very similar to a donut. A donut which you dip in chocolate. I would rather have a donut.

The mother tells me that she takes the children for churros in winter after their piano lessons and on Saturday afternoons when they have nothing else to do in the winter. Their usual churreria in the mountains had morphed into a gelateria for the summer.

Google tells me that Spanish churros are not as sweet or cinammony as Mexican churros. If they are less greasy, that would be the dream. The chocolate that you dip them in is incredibly thick and rich. Maybe I should just get myself a nice, thick pot of chocolate and settle down for a night of watching romcoms and making lists of regrets.




A Christmas nougat dessert that was mentioned to me when we were talking about Christmas. I love the sound of the Spanish voice when it says “nougat”. Home counties British English is so unmelodic. Why not buy or make your friends, family and fellow man a turrón for the holidays and forever be in their good graces.

Honey, sugar, egg, whites, almonds, oil, and optionally flavour with chocolate. The first version of the recipe came up in the 16th-century Manual de Mujeres. Considering how illiterate most of the population were at that time, I appreciate that there was a women’s handbook which included instructions for how to prepare sweet treats.

Feliz Navidad, y adiós a mi.




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