Bilbao pastries, small pleasures for every day

Rice cake
Rice cake

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Although visitors don't usually pay much attention to them, it is in the daily sweets that the people of Bilbao find their small doses of pleasure. By Andoni Munduate Dorronsoro.

In Bilbao this tradition remains surprisingly present in the lives of its citizens. Its traditional pastries, with around half a dozen "must-haves", have not yielded an inch to the onslaught of industrial confectionery or the war on calories.

With its coffee tradition, the city is full of cafés and bars where thousands of people take a daily break to enjoy a café (with a strong coffee and concentrated milk) with one of the iconic pastries. The patisseries are filled day after day with elegant businessmen, hordes of housewives and even teenagers on their school breaks who take one or a thousand pieces for their individual or collective enjoyment.

It could be said that patisseries have always been, in Bilbao, what pintxos have aspired to be for not so many years: haute cuisine in daily doses and within the reach of everyone.

Brioche de La Suiza
Brioche from La Suiza
Carolina, de Zuricalday
Carolina, from Zuricalday
Bollo de mantequilla, de Arrese
Butter bun, from Arrese
Curasanes de almendra, de La Suiza
Curasanes de almendra, de La Suiza

Carolina

This meringue pie is as peculiar as it is ubiquitous. It has a shortcrust pastry base, some "michelines" of soft meringue and two decorations, one on each side, of egg yolk and chocolate. It is one of those sweets that seldom achieves in taste and aroma what its appearance promises.

Rice cake

As its name suggests, this pastry does not contain a single grain of rice in its preparation. It is a tartlet of something between shortcrust pastry and puff pastry filled with a spongy cream halfway between a pastry cream and a cheesecake.

Cristina

This other cake with a woman's name is essentially a Swiss roll, with sugar sprinkled on top, sometimes toasted. It must be accompanied by a large glass of strong café au lait or hot chocolate.

Butter bun

It is the undisputed king of Bilbao's everyday pastries. Something as simple as a Swiss roll opened in half and filled with whipped pastry butter (nothing like the butter we are used to buying, this one is much creamier, something halfway between "normal" butter and whipped cream). Almost every pastry shop in the city, and an endless list of cafés, bars and shops, offer this sweet.

Jesuita

The Jesuita is a triangle of puff pastry covered with royal icing. They can be filled with custard or "angel's hair" (cabello de ángel). Delicious.

Mostrador de la pastelería Arrese

Its traditional patisserie has

not given an inch in the face

of industrial confectionery

or the war on calories

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