January 27, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Spain, Traditions

Because I’m a person that keeps my promises, I’ve finally brought myself to continue my research at the famous Mallorquina bakery in Madrid. It is an intense research that requires one to have an open mind, and above all else, an empty stomach. Yes, my friends, I would be trying five more desserts in my laborious effort to test all the scrumptious goodies that the Mallorquina serves up.

First up was the ensaimada – a pastry that originates from the Spanish island of Mallorca. When at the Madrid airport, you can always spot the folks returning from the Mediterranean paradise – they’re the ones who are hauling home big boxes of the sweet treat (and incidentally, people I feel I should make friends with). Given the bakery’s name (Mallorquina implies some relation to Mallorca), I suppose my expectations were high when I dug into the famous dessert. Sadly (very sadly!), it seemed rather flavorless and uninteresting. It was entirely unlike the ones from Mallorca, which are often the size of a pizza, and so delicious that I could eat the entire thing in one sitting if someone let me. Guess I will just have to go to Mallorca to get my ensaimada fix…or the airport.

Carefully scoping out the display of plates, we decided on our second dessert, roscón, which is typically served during the holidays on Three King’s Day. The cake (for lack of better words) comes as a large, donut-shaped pastry, sprinkled with almond slices, draped with candied pieces of fruit (ick), and occasionally filled with whipped cream. Usually hidden somewhere in the cake is a little charm of sorts – whoever ends up with the charm will have good luck in the year to come. (One year I ended up with a scary glass clown. I do think it was a pretty lucky year though, despite the odd clown.) Upon sampling this holiday favorite, my friend Sophia declared that it was the best she’d ever had. Confession – neither of us are Spanish (had you fooled, right?!), BUT we are both married to Spaniards, and between the two of us, we’ve lived here for over seven years – so obviously we know our roscón (just go with me on this one). Fluffy, light, and refreshing – the only thing that could make it better would be a cup of Spanish hot chocolate (because EVERYTHING is better with hot chocolate).

As our sugar intake increased, so did our inability to select decent pastries, which I will blame on what I’ve coined as “dessert goggles.” Yep, we ended up with some bizarre creation called tortel de hojaldrehojaldre meaning puff pastry (works for me), and tortel because I guess they got bored of using something more sensible like tarta. Whatever. Round and unimpressive in appearance, we didn’t expect much other than a sweet pastry. And that is was, but with a peculiar flavor and texture, which were apparently attributed to the cabello de ángel – that is, angel hair. I guess it was some sort of stringy, sugary mess of squash (yes, the vegetable) oddly hidden inside of an unsuspecting pastry, resulting in an unsuspecting me. Lesson learned – when it comes to squash-related desserts, stick to pumpkin pie.

After a pastry that contains mushy squash strings, it’s only natural that one would want to compensate with a chocolate-heavy delicacy, am I right? With that in mind, we selected the sugar-encrusted napolitana with chocolate oozing out the ends. My kind of dessert (but wow, that picture makes it look very unappetizing). Remember that chocolate palmera from last time? The one with the frosting that tasted like cupcakes? Well this napolitana seemed to be stuffed with the same chocolately crack-like concoction. If I didn’t fear losing Sophia as a friend, I would have dissected that thing and scooped out every last drop of sweetness. But I’m too classy for that, so I’m just admitting it here for all the world to read. Don’t judge.

Not unlike having too many drinks, having too many desserts suddenly makes you think that you can just keep on eating them and eating them. And because we hadn’t quite fulfilled our cocoa craving, we honed right in on this chocolate cake, which appeared to be covered in a shell of thick frosting. Now, as much as I sing such high praises of my beloved chocolate, for some reason I’m not a crazy fan of the cake (perhaps too many of those sub-par Safeway/Cosco cakes have tainted my love for it), so when this one turned out as delicious as it did, I was pleasantly surprised. Layers of yellow cake doused in a sugary syrup (go big or go home right?) were sandwiched between thick blankets of fudgy goodness. It was a bit much, really, but after that weird squash-tortel thing, the extreme was needed.

If I’m being honest here (which I am because I’m such a dedicated researcher and all that), I would have to say that this trip to the bakery was somewhat disappointing. No major food-gasms were happening, but rather just an unsatifisying sugar high. Because I like to give second chances though, I will push myself to make a third trip to the bakery to continue my hard work. It’s rough, but someone HAS to do it, right? Right??!!!??!


9 Responses to “The research continues – five more desserts”

  1. andi Says:

    Worst post to read when you’re on a diet, but I guess that means it was a good post then! 😉

  2. Erin Says:

    Can I get an award for that? It was also the worst post to “research” and write when still trying to recover from the holidays! But again, I’m dedicated to my “craft.” I think I will have to wait awhile before round 3, though.

  3. Sabrina Says:

    My vote goes to the chocolate cake. Looks delicious!! Many of the other desserts look more like “sweet bread” than cake. Were they? I don’t know how to describe it, but sort of the like “pannetone” in Italy or “Stuten” in Germany… if that makes any sense. And these types of desserts are only good with a think layer of NUTELLA on them. My humble opinion only 🙂 Hmmmm.

  4. Erin Says:

    To me the roscon totally reminds me of pannetone! But, for some reason whenever I suggest this to my husband, he emphatically disagrees. Also, I’m pretty sure my good Italian friend would also flip if I tried to compare such a thing to Italy’s beloved sweet bread. So, for those reasons, I left out the comparison. Truly though, I think all of the items above would be much better with a side of nutella (or nocilla – Spain’s version).

  5. Catherine Says:

    Wow, great post, you must have been stuffed at the end! Isn’t life hard sometimes 😀

  6. cristina Says:

    In order to continue with your yummy research I recommend you to visit next time these bakerys Horno La Santiaguesa (calle Mayor 73 http://www.hsonofre.com) or El Riojano (Calle Mayor 10 http://www.confiteriaelriojano.com ). La Mallorquina is famous because its location but it is not a good bakery from my point of view.

  7. Erin Says:

    Funny – El Riojano was actually the next stop for my pastry sampling adventure! After my last trip to the Mallorquina, I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed. But alas, that is why I am doing this ever so important research 😉 – so that I can say without a shadow of a doubt, after trying all the desserts, if the place is indeed good or not. Then, it’s off to the next stop! Perhaps Horno la Santiaguesa will have to be the third bakery.

  8. Jaime Says:

    First of all, sorry for my English writting but the Shakespeare’s language still is resisted to me.

    I’m going to complete a little bit the recommended sites by Cristina. For the roscón de reyes, the best cakes shop I know are La Santiaguesa and Antigua pastelería del pozo, in street of Pozo, 8, also near Mallorquina and Riojano.

    In Antigua pastelería del pozo you also can find the best puff pastry that you can eat in Madrid. They use it in both sweet and savory pies. The most famous are the pastry stuffed with angel hair and the tuna pie. Also have a very good pie that is the russian pie (pastel ruso) especially those which are stuffed with chocolate. The business were opened in 1830.

    In the patisserie La Mallorquina , the best products are the meringues and the Napolitanas and croisants.

    The Riojano is a classic and better patisserie than La Mallorquina. The more especial products are meringues (differents that the meringues of La Mallorquina) and the
    Santa Teresa Yolks (yemas de santa teresa), but they have a lot of other pastries that also are fantastic. The business were opened in 1855.

    Finally, for the Ensaimada, the pastry in which I have bought the better ensaimada is in Baleares dos located in the number 29 of Ciudad de Barcelona avenue, near of the underground Conde Casal station.

  9. Erin Says:

    Jaime!! You’re a Spanish rock star with all of the recommendations! I’m seriously contemplating heading to all these places right this minute so that I can get my roscon/yemas/ensaimada fix! I might have to do a blog post especially dedicated to these suggestions, actually….hmmm. Mil gracias!

    PS – I think Shakespeare’s language is still resisting me too :).

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