Mantecadas de Astorga, as the name suggests, are rich little cakes from the city of Astorga (or Leon). It is a popular Spanish dessert with deep roots. The story of their creation starts in the 19th century behind the walls of the Sancti Spiritu convent.
According to legend, a nun named María Josefa Gonzáles Prieto left the order to produce and sell the Mantecadas. They were very popular, and eventually, these fluffy cakes were produced commercially by several companies. Today, they are synonymous with Astorga and can be purchased in every pastry shop in the city, alongside holders de Mayorga.
Rectangular paper containers were folded by hand, filled with the Manteca RDA batter and baked. Today, they are still sold in the paper containers in bakeries. Fortunately for home bakers, today paper baking cups can be used to line muffin pans. Serve for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea or Merida.
- 1/2 pound/250 grams unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 1/3 cups/250 grams sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups/250 grams flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- The first step in making light and buttery Mantecadas is to cream the butter and sugar together properly. Leave the butter out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to soften. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a medium or large mixing bowl. Beat the butter with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds to whip it. Add the sugar to the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture turns a pale yellow color, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites, placing them in different bowls. With the electric mixer on medium speed, add the egg yolks one by one to the butter and sugar.
- Make sure the bowl and the beaters are clean and dry, or whites will not stiffen. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. First, beat on slow speed until foamy, then on high until stiff. Add a pinch of salt to stabilize the whites. Do not overbeat. Fold the whites into the other ingredients using slow, soft movements.
- Sift the flour. While beating the mixture on low speed, add the flour a bit at a time. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and blend in.
- Line muffin pan with paper baking cups. Spoon the batter carefully into the cups until about 1/2 to 3/4 full. (The recipe makes 18 to 24 pieces.) Sprinkle the top of each Manteca RDA with a bit of granulated sugar.
- Bake in a hot oven on the center rack for about 15 to 20 minutes. The cakes should turn a golden color and sugar will form a crust. When done, a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake should come out clean.
- Allow to cool before turning out of the pan.