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Marc Fosh is the Michelin Star resident chef at Read's Hotel in Santa
Maria and holds regular cookery workshops and demonstrations.

IT'S hard to believe that easter is just around the corner, in Spain, fiestas, carnivals and religious festivals have traditionally been associated with an assortment of pastries, sweets, cakes and biscuits. Some are flavoured with almonds, pine nuts, honey, cinnamon, and orange blossom water reflecting their Arab, Moorish roots, while others are doughnut style pastries fried in oil like roscos, buñuelos and the extremely popular churros which are served with hot chocolate for dunking. It seems strange to me that Spain's native confectionery and desserts are in the main multifarious in a country that has an abundance of some of the best fruit in the world and brought us chocolate from the New World. Most establishments would offer a fairly limited dessert menu that did not vary much from restaurant to restaurant. They always included Flan (creme caramel), arroz con leche (cold rice pudding) natillas (cold custard), ice-creams, fresh fruit and a plate of cheese. It was not very inspiring and I forged the impression that the Spanish were seriously lacking in the sweet tooth department. Here in Majorca we have a cream cheese tart called greixonera de brosat and Gato (gateau) a sponge-like almond cake along with the famous ensaimada, a delicate puff pastry-like confection served more often for breakfast with a big caf con leche. Ibiza have floa, a mouth–watering tart, believed to be Carthaginian in origin and made from soft cream ewe's milk cheese flavoured with hierbabuena (fresh mint). The Basques have their Pastel Vasco and some interesting and unusual desserts with great sounding names like pantxineta, made with almonds and Inzaursalsa, a warm walnut soup with milk and sugar flavoured with cinnamon. Mamia or cuajada is basically junket: ewe's milk set with rennet and normally served with honey or baked “reineta” apples. “Torrijas,” from Madrid is the Spanish equivalent of “pan perdu” and consists of stale bread soaked in milk, then fried and coated in sugar, it has become one of the most popular desserts to be modernised by the young talented chefs throughout Spain. Other desserts with great sounding names include “brazo gitano” (the gypsies arm) this is a Swiss roll to you and me, the very sweet and sickly caramel like “Tocino de cielo”(heavenly squares) and Leche Frita (fried milk!)
The people of Galicia in the north are very keen on pancakes called “filloas”.
They have even invented a fiesta around them and spend the whole weekend making pancakes. They serve them warm, with a little local honey and you always find yourself eating too many, as they are extremely tempting. One of the most typical desserts of the region is Tarta De Santiago, a moist almond cake decorated with the cross of St. James. It is sometimes served flaming with whisky. In Valencia, delicacies exist with dates and pomegranates and the people of the Canary Islands love yams with honey, banana cake and milk and lemon bread.

MADELEINE'S

2 eggs
450 ml icing sugar
300 ml milk
340 ml extra-virgin olive oil
900 ml flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
Place two dozen paper Madeleine moulds on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
Beat the eggs and sugar together in a food processor until you get a thin, pale yellow batter that pours in an intermittent stream. Mix the other ingredients, alternating the milk and oil with the flour in order to keep the batter light, and beat again thoroughly. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the paper moulds, filling them only 2/3 full to give the Madeleine's room to expand. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the Madeleine's are puffed and nicely golden.

SWEET POTATO “BUNUELOS” WITH AN APRICOT AND VANILLA SAUCE (serves 6

500g sweet potatoes (cooked in their skins)
150g flour
1 egg
2 egg yolks
50 icing sugar pinch of ground cinnamon
Apricot and vanilla sauce:
200ml water
100g sugar
500g fresh apricots
1 vanilla pod (split)
To make the bunuelos:
Carefully, peel the sweet potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
Work them to a puree with a wooden spoon and add the egg and egg yolks.
Add the flour and sugar, beat well until the mixture forms a smooth dough.
To make the apricot and vanilla sauce:
Place all the ingredients over a gentle flame and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve and refrigerate until required.
Heat enough oil to cover the bunuelos. Using two spoons dipped in hot water, form balls of dough and drop them carefully into the hot oil.
Cook until golden brown, remove and drain them on absorbant paper.
Sprinkle with a little caster sugar and seve warm with the chilled apricot and vanilla sauce. *The sweet potatoes are best cooked the day before to allow them to dry out a little overnight.

GREIXONERA DE BROSAT (serves 6-8)

500g cream cheese (requeson)
400g sugar
10 eggs
150g butter
1tpsn. ground cinnamon juice of 2 oranges grated zest of one lemon
Grease well an earthenware dish or a cake tin with the butter.
Separate the eggs and whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
Add the orange juice, cinnamon, grated zest and cream cheese and mix well.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and they form stiff peaks.
Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and cream cheese.
Pour the mixture into the buttered dish or cake tin and bake in a moderate oven (175c/350f/gas5) for 40-45 minutes. * “Greixonera” or “cazuela de barro” is the name given to the round deep-sided clay or earthenware cooking pot that the tart is cooked in.
They hold the heat for a long time and, although they can be used over a direct flame, are excellent for oven cookery.

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