September 23, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Food and wine, Madrid, Spain

What would you say if I told you that I was going to try all the cakes, pies and pastries at Madrid’s famous Mallorquina Bakery? If your answer is that I would have to change my moniker from the “traveling turtle” to the “comatose cow,” well then you’re on the right track! See, I’ve been to the Mallorquina bakery a time or two, and each time I go I end up cross-eyed trying to decide which dessert to pick – try something new, or play it safe and go with one I know I will love? These questions and decisions plague me, and surely a bewildered traveler even more so. So what’s a traveling turtle to do? The answer is clear – someone must undertake the grueling task of sampling and chronicling all that the Mallorquina has to offer so that when you, potential-traveler-to-Madrid, arrive here, you can mosey on up to the Mallorquina counter with confidence and order exactly what you want with no regrets! It was a hard decision as to whether I could do such a thing, but it turns out that after much soul searching (and tummy growling) that I am indeed up for task! Ohhhh the things I will do in the name of research.

The thing about Spain, and well probably many countries that have histories that date back prior to 1776, is that the country has countless traditional dishes and desserts, each of which is often a speciality of a certain city (and has been for generations). If you’ve even briefly read my blog, then you know that I love nothing more than sampling the local specialities of each place I go. So it’s only normal that I would find a place like the Mallorquina Bakery (which turns out regional desserts from around the country like McDonald’s does french fries) to be a particularly intriguing place. Apparently I’m not the only one either, as it has been around since 1894.

Enough talking already, let’s get to the good stuff. Jacobo and I arrived at the bakery last weekend wide-eyed and with our mouthes watering, ready to order the first dessert we saw – no need to choose, just point and keep on pointing. As expected, they serve far more desserts than we could count on all four of our hands, which meant that this valiant effort would need to be conquered over multiple visits. No problem, we would just order five desserts this time around. So without further ado, here’s what we stuffed our faces with:

First up was the merengue – so fluffly and beautiful that surely it should win best in show. The middle looked like a creamy marshmallow (and pretty much tasted like one too) sandwiched between thin layers of filo-like dough, then sprinkled with powdered sugar on top for good measure (it’s what any rational person would do, right?). With the light filling and sugary, flaky crust, everything just melted in my mouth like a little cloud (strange how after eating it, though, that I didn’t feel much like a little cloud).

Next was the tarta de yema. You may recall my talking about yemas before during my trips to Ávila – the city from where they are a speciality. “Yemas,” which means egg yolks in Spanish, are soft, sugary, yellow confections that are typically served as bite sized morsels no bigger than a large gum ball. In the case of this cake though, the yemas became the filling, translating into pure sweetness, so much so that I’m sure I could taste the thick grains of sugar amongst the possibly sugar marinated cake and sprinkling of coconut shavings. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I think it may have been too sweet for me (oh dessert gods – please forgive me!). But perhaps if you LOVE yemas and have a wicked obsession for yellow sugary things, then this might be the dessert for you.

Now it was time to order a third dessert, and things were admittedly getting a little awkward. Here we were, these two seemingly normal people, absolutely wolfing down desserts and ordering more before we’d even finished the ones we already had! At this point we did our best to convince the waiter of our motives before requesting that he bring us the most popular dessert in the house (whatever that may be). So with that, he plopped down a napolitana in front of us. I’m not going to lie, I was not impressed by its appearance – after all, there was no chocolate and there didn’t appear to be any oozing sugary substances present either. And well, it tasted as unimpressive as it looked. I don’t know who loves this dessert so much, but whoever they are, they apparently have not tried anything else at this fine establishment. The Mallorquina apparently serves a chocolate napolitana as well, so let’s see if that one will be less disappointing. Stay tuned.

After bashfully requesting the camerero for a fourth dessert, we were presented with the tarta de fresa, or strawberry cake, which honestly looked like something bought from Safeway for $10.99 per three-foot sheet. But I was committed to the task at hand, so I dug in, and holy not-Safteway-cake, it was friggin good! It had light tasty whip cream, a cake that seemed to have been soaked in some sort of liqueur, and a berry topping that was divine. I don’t know what was going on with this dessert, but between its underwhelming appearance and its off-the-charts flavors, it was a guaranteed favorite.

Did we have room for another dessert? Well, no. Good thing I have multiple stomachs available for different kinds of sweets – particularly chocolate. So when we were served a chocolate palmera, I discovered I had new found hunger. You may recognize the palmera as they are often sold in the US, albeit much smaller and typically not chocolate covered (which clearly doesn’t make sense). This palmera was soft like a croissant and was topped with frosting like a cupcake – you know, the soft creamy kind that is so tempting that when no one is looking you just lick it all off because it’s so irresistible (oh, not everyone does that? Never mind then. Did I mention that I live in Spain and am deprived of normal American goodies rendering me desperate and possibly overly excited about anything that reminds me of home? Don’t even get me started about Madrid’s new frozen yogurt shop!). I crown this palmera as the best on the planet (because this matters to someone)!!

Of course we didn’t finish all of the desserts, so naturally we brought the specimens home for further analysis, because you never know, sometimes flavors evolve when accompanied by wine. After lots of careful thought, I’ve come to the profound conclusion that the tarta de fresa takes the cake (ba boom ching!) amongst the five we tried so far, with the palmera being a close second. So which one would you order?

Now I’m going to fast until the next trip to the Mallorquina. Once I can no longer actually see the tarta de fresa hovering around my midsection, I will return again for the next sampling. You can’t wait, can you?! Doesn’t your life already feel more complete knowing what you might order at the Mallorquina!?!

14 Responses to “In the name of research”

  1. Sabrina Says:

    Delicious!!! Boy, do I wanna go to that bakery 🙂 And I am sitting here at work munching on healthy, lightly salted Edamame – mainly because lunch yesterday consisted of chips and dinner consisted of fried fish followed by Toblerone (from our August Europe stopover) 😉 Which would I order? Totally the tarta de fresa. No question. But since it doesn’t contain any chocolate and I really love chocolate, I might have to follow it up with the chocolate palmera 🙂 I think I would be your perfect testing buddy :))

  2. Lulu Says:

    I would definitely take the tarta de fresa—you had me at liqueur soaked cake.

  3. Erin Says:

    Well, you know ladies, there still remain some 35 desserts to be sampled ;). I think there’s still some time for you both to have some tarta de fresa as well as sample a few new ones! Sabrina – why must you tease me with your lightly salted edamame and Toblerone!? How I miss the days when one could buy a tray of decent edamame at the local Whole Foods! Tear!

  4. Sabrina Says:

    They don’t have edamame in Spain? I’m sure they have Toblerone! I’ll trade either or both for your tarta de fresa 🙂

  5. Erin Says:

    Yes, you can find edamame here at all five “Japanese” restaurants in Madrid (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit), but certainly not in handy ready-to-eat packs like in the States. And Toberlone, yes, surely you can get it here, but I’m still jealous because I don’t have any within reach at the moment, hehe. Now Ghiradelli chocolate, that’s especially what I could go for right about now.

  6. Emily Says:

    Thank you so much for being a taste tester! I have been feeling overwelmed when going into the pastry shops not knowing what to pick and wanting everything. I have had several and have been wondering about the palmeras because yes, they are different here. They look better. I by chance went by the bakery you are talking about above the same day I read your blog. So of course I had to go in…. I tried the tarta de fresa and it was great!

  7. Erin Says:

    Well then, no need to be overwhelmed anymore, just take my approach – try everything!! Ok, maybe not so realistic in the long-run, but I’m going to at least give it a shot at the Mallorquina. Let’s see when I make it back for the next round of pure gluttony (it can’t come soon enough!).

  8. Cassandra Says:

    Thanks for doing so much legwork (er, forkwork) during these two trip to La Mallorquina! I always tend to head straight for the chocolate but now I’m intrigued about this unassuming tarta de fresa.

    My two fav finds at La Mallorquina are the tortas de levadura and the napolitanas de chocolate. Mmmmm.

  9. Erin Says:

    Seriously – the tarta de fresa will BLOW your mind. It’s stupidly good really. I never would have expected it!

  10. Óscar Says:

    I go for the tarta de fresa as well …

  11. Óscar Says:

    The “Tarta de fresa” looks really good.

  12. Michelle Huey Says:

    I’ve had their chocolate napolitana…. a few of them actually and while the regular napolitana didn’t really float my boat the chocolate napolitana was heaven on earth!!! don’t miss out! if you try nothing else in their bakery trust me and order a few of these!

  13. Jack Says:

    Keep up the great research! I love La Mallorquina. I tried to have breakfast there almost every day when in Madrid last year. I loved the waiters and everyone squeezing in at the counter. Despite the crush everyone is so polite.I do miss La Mallorquina. I

  14. Erin Says:

    Thanks, Jack! You’ve reminded me that I must not neglect my research effort! I’ll have to head back soon for another round of sampling :).

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