Last week, while in Southern Spain, I had the wonderful opportunity to work in a bakery for an evening. Luckily it wasn't just any night: It was Jan. 5, the night that the Reyes Magos — the three wise men — bring Spanish children presents. The typical Spanish pastry that coincides with the holiday, called roscón de reyes or King's Cake, is consumed in mass quantities on the following morning.
I arrived to find the bakery, Confiteria La Piedra Escrita, crowded with people waiting to pick up their roscónes. Pascual, my pastry chef friend, quickly escorted me to the kitchen where his family was hard at work mass producing over 1000 cakes! The rest of the night was a whirlwind of rolled dough and whipped crema.
With spongelike layers and fluffy filling, this cake is a delicious dessert excellent for any occasion. There are four options for filling — whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream, meringue, and crema (a thick sugar-flour custard) — but my favorite is whipped cream. If you ever have one, you should pair with either coffee or champagne. To take a look at a gallery from my adventures in Spanish baking, and for a recipe to experiment in your own kitchen, read more
If you read this fabulous little website frequently, you probably know by now that I am a complete and total Spainophile (yes I know that's not a real word, but I couldn't find the Spanish equivalent to the French loving Francophile). After living in Andalucia for two years, what can I say? I love all things Spanish, including the food. I have quite the collection of Spanish cookbooks, however my favorite is The Cuisines Of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking by Teresa Barrenechea. I received this book as a gift from my godfather and have made lots of successful, authentic tasting dishes that take me back to the balmy nights and long, lazy afternoons. The empanada dough is flaky and browns perfectly, the classic patatas bravas tapa is the best recipe I've tried, and the gambas al ajilio is succulent and garlicy.
I especially enjoy this book for its beautiful photography of the Spanish countryside, detailed descriptions of the origins of the recipes, and Barrenechea's personal stories that relate to each dish. If you are interested in learning the secrets of a genuine Spanish mother, I highly recommend this book.