>> Sunday, May 9, 2010
I'm working on a project that has led me to prepare pastas del Consejo. Because this project has driven me to make a tour through the most historic places in Madrid, my hometown. And there I found charming and ancient pastry shops where traditional sweets are still made with great care for the quality of the ingredients and in their ellaboration. I left Madrid 10 years ago (although I moved to a distance of only 40 km) and, like many natives of gigantic cities, I have always maintained a love-hate relationship with it. When I left, though a more correct description would be run away, I fled to a place with more space, less noise, less mess, less pollution ... ultimately more peaceful. But a couple of unhurried visits around some of its corners have sufficed for me to fall in love with her again ... I'm ready, 10 years after.
Pastas del Consejo, meaning Council cookies, are typical Madrilenian confections, one among the many specialties of one of the more traditional pastry shops in Madrid, El Riojano, located at number 10 the Calle Mayor. They are small cookies in the form of a double spiral, also shaped as small rolls, as the famous panecillos de San Antón, eaten to celebrate the feast of San Antonio on January 17th, can be prepared with this same dough. Mr. Martínez Llopis, in his book La dulcería española (Spanish pastry and sweets), tells us that these cookies were originally called Senate cookies and they only became known as Council cookies during the minority of King Alfonso XIII (1886-1941), who liked them a lot, because he used to eat them while presiding meetings of the Council of Regency with his mother the Queen. No wonder that he spent his time eating pastries... while listening to incredibly entertaining political arguments before being even 18 years old...
This we are told about El Riojano at the Madrid tourism website, turismo de Madrid:
This pastry shop was founded by Damaso Rioja de la Maza, baker of the Royal House in 1855. The establishment has not changed since then neither in the decor, with mahogany, bronze or marble, nor in the quality of its sweets. Among its specialties are the sugar candies called azucarillos, light snacks traditionally taken with brandy, and pastas del Consejo, so called because they were served in the councils of state. The shop has a small tea room where you can taste their specialties.
Pastas del Consejo (from La dulcería española, M. Martínez Llopis)
Yields around 180 cookies (I'm not good at dividing an odd egg number... you can always freeze half the dough for a rainy day)