Read All About Our February Box!
It’s the shortest month of the year, but less days doesn’t mean less biscuits!
This month we took our biscuit adventure to Spain – a country known for sunshine and siestas. We wanted to capture the traditional Spanish culture with this months’ biscuit selection, and each biscuit had its own history and story to tell.
We’ve delved deep into the origin of these biscuits, as we enjoy learning about them almost as much as we do eating them! Who knew there was so much history attached to what we now know as a tea-time treat?!
We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Let’s get this one out of the way before we start a Jaffa Cake war (but seriously, is it a cake or a biscuit?). We know Magdalenas aren’t technically biscuits, but these cakes are enjoyed by Spaniards with their cuppa. Traditionally eaten over breakfast, they are dipped into milky coffee or tea – much like we would do with our biscuits!
The origin of these cakes if vague and varied, however it is most probable that they are based on the French madeleines. One version of their history is that a Nun convent dedicated to Mary Magdelen (hence the name!) brought the recipe from France during the French Revolution when all convents were banned, and sold it to Spaniards – growing in popularity so much so that it is still present today.
Available in many different varieties, these Filipino biscuits are small, ring-shaped biscuits – crunchy biscuit on the outside with the original variety having milk chocolate on the outside. A long-standing item on Spanish biscuits shelves, they have been around for over 40 years. However, they have seen quite a lot of controversy from their name with some believing them to be offensive to those from the Philippines. That said, the likely reason behind their name is that they are based on the traditional Philippine biscuit “Roquillos” (ring-shaped crunchy biscuits), but because the Spanish already have a product called rosquillos (baked doughnuts) they could not share the same name, and so the name was based on the country they originated from!
Tortas de Aceite de Oliva
Though nothing like the biscuits we enjoy here in the UK, these biscuits are very popular in Spain. Light, crispy and flaky, the ingredient anise is traditionally used – which we’ve included in this box! As with many foods, they have evolved to include other flavours too, such as orange and cinnamon.
They are said to have been invented over one hundred years ago by a woman named Ines Rosales, who sold these simple snacks at Seville train station. They provided an easily portable snack for those passing through and grew in popularity across Spain as a result.
You may recognise these biscuits if you’ve ever had a Rich Tea here in the UK. They are very similar in appearance, although they have a lighter texture and are flavoured with vanilla.
Hugely popular in Spain, these biscuits have a surprising history – they were first invented in London! These were created in 1874 to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (hence the name!) to the Duke of Edinburgh, and they became well liked across Europe as a result.
Although known within Spain, they truly grew in popularity after the Civil War where – after the poverty they had endured – Spaniards rushed to harvest lots of wheat to obtain the bread and bakery products they had missed. As a result of this excitement, they had a lot of spare wheat, and so extra Maria biscuits were baked to help consume this. As such, Maria Biscuits are often seen as a symbol of the economic recovery of Spain.
The name of these biscuits comes from the Spanish “polvo” meaning powder, and we can see why! These Spanish delicacies are extremely crumbly shortbreads made with almonds. Traditionally a treat at Christmastime, with their lightly spiced, anise flavour and generous dousing of icing sugar, they were only produced between September and January, but these biscuits can now be enjoyed all year round.
Traditionally made with pork fat (although other ingredient substitutes are now available) this was used as a tactic during the Spanish Inquisition to detect those who were of Jewish or Muslim faith in Southern Spain.
Still popular today, Andalusia has the largest production volume – with over 70 factories. That’s a lot of biscuits!
Let us know what you think! Until next month…
The Biscuit Baron