We visit the bakery at Tradición 1892 cake shop in Alcázar de San Juan, with a lovely aroma of pastries wafting over us. Despite the order and cleanliness, there’s frenetic activity here in the build-up to All Saints’ Day.
In this shop, run by fifth generation artisan pastry makers, they innovate without renouncing tradition. One such tradition is “saint’s bones” and another, of course, cream fritters or buñuelos, a real Autumn treat for those with a sweet tooth when November arrives.
Buñuelos de viento, a Hebrew tradition
“They were originally a Sephardic recipe and were imported by King Philip II’s court from the Jewish population, which back then was still very numerous in Spain. They were introduced alongside already popular churros (and made in a very similar way, by frying in deep hot oil) in the Spanish capital, Madrid. After that, they spread all through the kingdom. They were known as buñuelos and, depending on the region, they were either filled with cream or plain”, explains master pastry maker Luis Aurelio Cortés.
They’re balls of dough made with wheat flour, lard and eggs, and then fried in hot oil. The fritters double in size when they’re fried, as if they had been blown up, giving them their name, “puffs of wind fritters”.
“They’re made by forming a hot dough that’s cooked and set, then you add the eggs and when the dough is completely smooth it’s squeezed from a piping bag or spooned into the hot oil” explains Cortés, for whom the most important thing is to “respect the traditional recipe and not skimp on good quality ingredients in the kitchen”.
Saint’s bones, an Arab recipe
Another loyal travelling companion that can’t fail to turn up at family get-togethers every All Saints’ Day. Its origins are clearly Arabic, with the main ingredient being marzipan. “Marzipan comes from the Arabs because of the almonds, sugar and honey, and the amazing shapes appeal to both kids and grown-ups”.
“It’s a very well established sweet all over Castile. In the Mediterranean, in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, for example, it’s eaten as panillet, and they add fruit flavours and cocoa to the dough”, the cake shop explains.
“The flavour is different than that of the marzipan figures you see at Christmas, it’s tastier because it’s made with egg yolks”.
Although you could choose a demi-sec sparkling wine, the option of a DO La Mancha white Muscat rounds out the pairing with buñuelos and saints’ bones for its characteristic aromatic floral and honey hints.