Carnival curd: the granadino dessert carnival par excellence
The Carnival curd is a typically Granada dessert, whose tradition tells us that it is I made to take advantage of the Christmas cakes left over. It is very easy to prepare since it consists of layers of pastry cream, crumbles or crumbled mantecados, rusks of tuna or mustards, angel hair and grinding almonds, which are covered with a last griddle of crumbled crust, and it will go to a moderate oven. just so that the polvorón or mantecado harden. Although it seems that it is of Arab origin, and some put the origin of this recipe at the time of Al-Andalus, it is not probable since the mantecados or polvorones have lard; so its origin It is still unknown and the version of those who attribute it to the nuns who popularized it and for a time called it Torta de San Antón is more plausible.
Its characteristic presence is given to the container in which it is prepared, a basin of the typical Granada ceramic from Fajalauza, a type of ceramic decorated with any decorative motif from Granada (a pomegranate, or something referring to the Alhambra). The name of this pottery comes from the Puerta de Fajalauza, one of the entrances to the picturesque Albayzín neighborhood, where numerous potters were found. It has been working since the beginning of the 16th century and is still being done.
This cake was known since the beginning of the century in other parts of Spain, and according to Susana Criado, in 1913 Emilia Pardo Bazán, in one of her books, already refers to this sweet in one of her books: “In Granada I had occasion to see some sweets that showed sugar patterns on the surface reproducing the tiling of the friezes of the Alhambra, and not by the artifice of a modern confectioner, but with all the unmistakable character of the traditional. ”
From the middle of January until almost March, all the pastry shops in Granada show these curious individual casseroles of different sizes in their windows… it is even sold by the cut. It is simple to prepare, since it could be considered an assembly, in which all the ingredients that we are going to use have been previously prepared. In this dessert, the quality of the ingredients is very important to achieve a good result. The fundamental ingredients are: some good homemade custard, delicious mantecados and polvorones, and angel hair to be able to be homemade, and some biscuits of soletilla or the typical Granada gourds (sponge cakes with a rounded shape). The traditional basin is, as I have already commented on Fajalauza ceramics, a painted and glazed clay in white, blue and green. Although this is the typical container in Granada, every day they are sold more in albal molds (which I do not like at all).
For years I always bought the Carnival Curd in a nice ceramic pot from Fajalauza, that’s why I love to follow the culinary customs of “wherever you go, do what you see”, and I always bought it in “El Sol”, a Granada pastry shop that opened in 1913 and has maintained the quality of a delicious artisan cake that the best pastry shops in Spain have nothing to envy. But contrary to my custom, I never tried to do it, I had a certain reluctance to prepare this carnival dessert, I almost felt it as a disloyalty to my land, that’s why it was not in my Galician roots, where pancakes, ears and flowers were the indisputable stars of this festivity .
But one day I came to the conclusion that deep down this feeling had a lot to do with a xenophobic attitude to what is foreign to our culture and that deep down it is nothing more than a reaction to not “wanting to be contaminated” with customs In this case, food that does not belong to what we consider our affective roots. I think that human beings are very paradoxical because throughout my life I have tried to educate my children against “the omelette syndrome”, or the inclination to eat only what is familiar and familiar, and which basically it is nothing more than a selective eating disorder, or the phobia of not eating anything that is unknown and that, ultimately, comes from problems of intolerance not only towards the diversity of attitudes and opinions, but even food, that represent something new outside our usual diet.
After this sensible reflection, I decided with enthusiasm to make my own carnival curd, which had no major culinary problems, apart from selecting some good products and having the preparation of an exquisite custard. Finally, when I looked at my curd I felt like an artist-pastry chef for having done a job that was not only culinary but also crafts, since I had made a cardboard grenade, (the one with a wooden panel was asking too much), with the one that would decorate this precious cake. But on top of that, I felt much more involved in this culture, which had welcomed us so well. My family, with children from Granada, were delighted and amazed at my artistic-culinary skills, and no less important to me was the fact that they got rid of the polvorones that swarmed around the house since Christmas so gracefully.
The quantities will depend on the dimensions of the basin that you are going to make. Mine is the diameter of a dessert plate.
-a bowl of pastry cream
-half package of biscuits
-about 7 or 8 mantecados or polvorones
-half can or jar of angel hair
-50 gr. almond, chopped and lightly toasted
-1/4 glass of water
-6 tablespoons of sugar
-a lemon peel and cinnamon
-Optional: brandy or a sweet sherry. (I haven’t thrown anything at him).
This recipe consists of placing the ingredients in layers, repeating the process twice.
1. Crush the polvorones until they are sand, and a quarter of it you put in the basin making a base (photo below); (There are those who line the entire mold but I consider that with the floor and the cover it is enough):
2. Cover the polvorón with half the custard:
3. Prepare the syrup: pour the water (fourth glass) in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons of sugar, the lemon and the cinnamon and boil it for 5 minutes; then you let it rest so that it absorbs the flavors:
4. Soak the biscuits with the syrup and then drain them by hand:
5. Now put another layer: spreading half of the biscuits on the custard:
6. It is the turn of the angel hair, which is above the cake and finally half of the almond in pieces:
7. You start again with the same layers: custard, sponge cake, hair and almond:
8. The top cover should be the polvorón (the remaining three quarters) that is placed as if it were a blanket of sand. You spread it out well and in the oven, about 10 minutes with the top and bottom lit at 150º, and another 10 minutes only with the top (the gratin) at 160º until the polvorón layer hardens.
9. When it comes out of the oven, it must be cooled before decorating because the icing sugar would get wet:
10. Next, sprinkle with cinnamon the entire top surface:
11. You put the mold of the pomegranate, which is very easy to make:
12. Sprinkle again with icing sugar, and now carefully remove the template from the pomegranate:
13. There you have the wonderful Carnival curd, which once cold will be ready to eat. It will be better if you do it the day before.
And when you cut the cake, you will see the different layers that we have been adding to it.
Bon Apettit and Good Luck !!!!!