Traditional Easter pastry. Juan Manuel Sanz/© ICEX
As happens with so many other aspects of Spanish gastronomy, its cakes and pastries vary widely with the diversity of the different regions in the country. Each area has specific preferences for different types of sweets, although the legacy of centuries of Muslim presence in Spain is clearly evident.
The use of fruit and nuts in baking can be seen in Cádiz with the alfajores from Medina Sidonia (sweet rolls made with a combination of honey, almonds, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cloves and coriander) all the way up to the Atlantic coast of Galicia with its typical tarta de Santiago (a tart made with almonds, sugar and egg), and including the traditional panellets from Catalonia (a type of cake made with marzipan from almonds and sugar). The second feature of various Spanish cakes and pastries is that olive oil is one of the key ingredients. Confections fried in oil include churros (elongated fritters), tortas (flat crispy pancakes), rosquillas (a type of doughnut) etc. The third group of specialties –in stark contrast to the sweets of Arab influence– contain pork fat and include such well-known confections as the ensaimada from Mallorca and the pastries known as mantecados and almendrados.