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Sweets & Pastries

An ancient tradition

When discussing the sweets and confectionary industry of Cadiz it is essential to go back to the area’s Al-Andalus heritage. The province of Cadiz was part of the Andalusi civilization, whose origin dates back to the 8th century, with the arrival of Muslim troops in the south of the peninsula. The social composition of Al-Andalus was very complex and varied throughout its history; basically, the three major religions, Muslim, Christian and Jewish coexisted, although there was a clear predominance of the first. In the 13th century, the Christian troops made a significant advance and the territories of the province of Cadiz went on to belong to the Crown of Castile.

The five centuries of Andalusi civilization left an imprint on various aspects of the culture of the region, as well as its cuisine. The Arab taste for sweets and pastries made with honey and nuts has reached our days.

The "Alfajor de Medina Sidonia" (Alfajor of Medina Sidonia)

Among the confectionary products coming from Arab tradition, perhaps the star is the Alfajor from Medina Sidonia, originally called alajú (from the Arabic word "al-Hasu", for filling). This sweet, produced under a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), is made in an artisan way, following a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. The ingredients, all natural, are: honey, almonds, hazelnuts, flour, grated bread and spices (coriander, clove, anise, sesame and cinnamon). The cut shows a brown color, with a slightly spiced aroma and a very original flavor, reminiscent of dried fruits and honey. It is shaped like a cylinder and comes in individual pieces, wrapped in paper. It comes in different weights and sizes, from pieces of 40 g to 1 kg bars. They are usually a part of the offer in Christmas sweets, although their consumption tends to expand beyond these dates. Despite their long history, they are unquestionably in line with current trends, healthy and delicious, with great personality.

They are made in Medina Sidonia, a town with a long history, that acquired great splendor in the Muslim era. Medina Sidonia was the capital of confectionery production in the Arab world and the fame of its sweets and alfajores reached far beyond its borders. This is attested by numerous writings, the most famous being those of Dr. Thebussem, a writer and journalist from the 19th century, well known for his gastronomic treatises.

Along with the alfajor, a variety of sweets are made in Medina Sidonia, among which we can name other local specialties such as the amarguillo (slightly bitter sugar and almond marzipan), tortas pardas (almond cakes with caramelized pumpkin filling), and piñonates (pine nut cakes)…

Pan or Turrón from Cadiz

The so-called Pan (literally, bread) or Turrón (nougat) de Cádiz is one of the most emblematic confectionery products in the province. Its origin is a mix of both history and legend. It is originally attributed to the French invasion which, in the early 19th century, besieged the city of Cadiz over a long period of time, causing food supply problems for the population. This forced the locals to use the almond provisions that were stored in customs, initially destined for overseas colonies, eventually developing this product.

Nowadays, this product and pestiños (honey-coated fritters) - as part of the so-called "frying pan fruits", also from Arab tradition – are the most typical Christmas sweets in the capital of Cadiz. The Pan or Turrón de Cadiz is a chest-shaped marzipan cake filled with caramelized fruits and cabello de angel (caramelized pumpkin).

Other Sweets

In addition to the sweets mentioned, the province of Cadiz has a rich and varied tradition of confectionary specialties in most of its towns. The pestiños and tortas mentioned earlier, but also roscos (ring-shaped cakes), mantecados (almond crumble cakes), polvorones (almond shortbreads), yemas (caramelized egg-yolk sweets), tejas (crunchy almond cookies), currusquillos de canela (cinnamon cookies), torrijas (bread dipped in milk and fried), bizcochos (sponge cakes) and lots, lots more... Tradition, quality and craftsmanship combine to offer a wide and varied selection.

These traditional products are now being joined in the market by new products such as chocolates and bonbons, with excellent quality and presentation, finding their own place in some of the world's most exclusive shops.

 
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