Gerhard Jenne discovers a true Spanish speciality on a recent visit to Valencia
No it’s not a spelling mistake: This is the name of a pastry, and no onions or baked beans are involved in the making of it!
I have just returned from a short break in Valencia, Spain. It was my first visit to the birthplace of paella and I soon learned that this original peasant food was actually made with chicken and rabbit, without a trace of seafood, and usually eaten at lunchtime.
Going to Valencia also provided time to catch up with Konditor & Cook ex-team member Alex. He came to London to improve his English, but we also taught him how to provide great customer service. The stint at Konditor & Cook has held him in good stead. In the last year he trained as a pilot and now flies the Airbus A-320. Just goes to show, the person asking you, “Would you like hot drink with your cake?” may one day announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our cruising altitude” a little while later.
On this occasion, we stayed firmly on the ground and beat our way to Horchateria Daniel (www.horchateria-daniel.es) for horchata and fartons.
To the English ear, a slightly unfortunate name for the latter, but delicious when dipped in the former. Horchata is drink made from tigernuts; in colour and consistency it’s like almond milk, always served chilled or as an iced frappe. In this you dip the fartons, long, light and thinly iced pastries, rather like iced finger buns. Judging by the heaps of them in every baker’s window, the Valencians seem to never stop eating them. And at Horchateria Daniels, a serving consisted of two, each a good six inches long, so good though that I could have easily polished off another.
Valencia has its own “hipster” area, Russafa. We went there to check out Pasteleria Dulce de Leche. (www.pasteleriadulcedeleche.com) The range of pastries in a typical Spanish bakery seems to mainly consist of the colour brown and err on the dry side; at Dulce de Leche it’s a different story: pies and tartlets brimmed with fresh berries and a lot of the cakes and pastries were made with dulce de leche as an ingredient.
Dulce the leche is originally from Latin America and is a sweetened milk that has been reduced and thus changes colour, texture and taste. It is what we use in banoffee pie, or what you get when you boil a can of condensed milk in a bain marie for a few hours.
We enjoyed ours in doughnuts (yummy!) and in a sweet cheesecake (yummy yummy). Now I also know why Alex couldn’t stop eating our most popular ‘Fudgepacker Brownies’ — but that’s another story.