Bakeries in Menorca - Baleària

Published in issue 33 of Baleària Magazine –TEXT BY: BEP AL·LÈS PHOTOS BY: BEP AL·LÈS, DESTÍ MENORCA, CAS SUCRER DES CARRER NOU

Minorca, the sweetest island, has its own specific pastry depending on the season. Although many are unknown to the general  public, they are making their way into the restaurant sector which at the same time has laid stakes in favour of more local products. Cuisine is gaining momentum as one of the islands most important values—perhaps as important as its landscape, beaches or archaeology—as a differentiating and enticing element.

Dough made with wheat flour and lard is the base for a local meat or fish pie known as les formatjades. Then there are the cuts biscuits known as crespells and crespellets that can also be filled; the general filling of choice is cured sobrassada (sausage spread), quince jam, sweet potato jam, or cottage cheese suquet (a mixture of egg whites and sugared vanilla and a touch of lemon). Crespells are round, daisy shaped cut biscuits that remind you of the sun; they are more commonly found in the downtown area and eastern part of the island, and not so much in Ciutadella, where confectioner’s shops are another world to be discovered.

 

ENGLISH FLAVOURS

The English presence on the island also left its benchmark. You will find everything from puddings or sweets that include Danish pastries with raisins, cottage cheese or sweet potatoes—known locally as ensaïmada—without forsaking baked goods made with butter. They all make up an extensive variety of both refined and homemade baked goods that are always found at any major celebrations.

Traditional bakeries in Minorca are true sweet-tooth’s paradise, with a wide range of small cakes, pies and tarts. The sucrers (sugar confectioner, the traditional name for pastry baker), have safeguarded the ancient recipes that were passed down from one generation to another. There are a variety of buns, breads and pastries, all varying in colour and flavour and with such names as: polveras, imperiales, palos, suizos, medias lunas… A brioche type pastry is the basis for many of these delicacies, which are then filled with light custard, egg yolk custard or flavoured butter cream that takes you back to the tables of the noble homes of English Minorca. Some of these small bakeries—true temples of temptation for those who discover this sweet island—can be found among the streets of the older parts of the city centre.

Almonds, as is the case of all the Balearic Islands, are also an important ingredient for any hand crafted pastry. A cake known as Las tordades de almendra—made with powdered almonds instead of flour—is a must to be enjoyed at all major celebrations and Saint’s Days in Minorca. Decorated with meringue and cherries, it is undoubtedly the queen of all pies, together with Swiss rolls filled with toasted egg yolk custard. Speaking of sweets made with almonds, it is worth your while to try an almond shortbread cookie known as los amargos and the crunchy almond bread slices known as los carquinyols, which are famous in the town of Es Mercadal.

 

SWEET CIUTADELLA

Ciutadella, the island’s former capital, has carefully preserved the secrets of its baked goods and its homemade ice cream. The vanilla ice cream made by Cas Mervol (located on Ses Voltes, a typical street) enjoys well-earned fame. The same holds true for homemade ice creams with candied fruits and jams, made at Sa Gelatería for over 25 years; one of its most surprising flavours is figat, Minorca’s typical fig jam. Baked goods from local convents are also worthy of mention, including the traditional pastissets. These lard biscuits covered with powdered sugar have five rounded petals; they are perhaps similar to the Christmas cucussó, one of the oldest pudding-type breads found on the island. Nuns from the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara make them weekly, but there are also other versions—both plain and filled—at a number of bakeries or pastry shops.