>> Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I have a soft spot for Segovia. It is such a beautiful city, one of my favourites. For Madrilenians like me, Segovia has always been one of the classic day-trips at any time of year (it's only 60 km away), mainly for its succulent suckling lambs... poor things. I recall having visited it quite some times as a child. As a child it is impossible not to be impressed by its Alcázar that looks like something out of a fairy tale... One expects at any time to see on one of the tall windows, in the highest room of the tallest tower, one of those princesses with a conical cap topped by a veil or a knight coming out at full gallop across the bridge over the moat (I've told you before, all my problems come from reading too much through my childhood... and from watching Robin Hood too many times). It's been days since I wanted to complicate my life with this rich and somewhat labor-intensive dessert typical of Segovia, although relatively recent in history. For those who've never heard about it, despite its name it is a cake, not a drink, that consists of several layers of cake drenched in syrup, with an egg yolk cream between them, and with a thick layer of marzipan covering the whole thing... the perfect dessert for Segovia's cold winters.
This dessert is so famous, at least in its place of origin, that it even has its own website: www.ponchesegoviano.com. And on this website, where they state that this candy was invented in the tearoom El Alcázar, next to the cathedral, they tell us the following about its birth:
In 1926, the confectioner Frutos García Martín began marketing the candy in his establishment of the Plaza Mayor of Segovia. The King Alfonso XIII, the last Bourbon who regularly spent the summer at La Granja, encouraged him to spread the word outside of Segovia and in other areas. The king advised the confectioner to present this dessert at the Universal Exhibition of 1929 where he won the gold medal. They also tell us the exact formula for this sweet is a well kept secret. Does that mean that the recipes found in books and websites are mere attempts? I've read that the genuine filling is not plain pastry cream, as indicated in many places (anathema!), but egg yolk custard or cream. I have used egg yolks, of course, just to avoid being chased by a mob armed with pitchforks and clubs. I don't know if Segovians will forgive me for not marking the ponche with the classic caramel lattice though... I had no adequate gadget (me?). I know that with this aspiring ponche I'm exposed to the wrath of Segovians... but anyway, I risk it because I intend to improve it... the next time I make it.
After a long and brainy research into the subject (ahem), the recipe I used is a collage of bits found here and there... The composition is roughly taken from an old and excellent book apparently no longer in print and recently inherited from a family friend, Nuestra cocina, by José Sarrau. Well, there goes my Segovian-Galapagan ponche:
Yields about 12 servings
Egg yolk cream
Putting it all together
As I said, this dessert is best suited for a cold winter afternoon. But... if you get in a bathtub filled with ice cubes, the feeling is similar. You just need to find an excuse to eat this eggy and marzipaney delicacy...