In Portugal, where I live, it seems every town has it’s own pastry, usually an egg-based custard tart of some kind, so it’s always fun to track down and taste the local specialty. In Spain, it’s often the same.
For Cordoba, that local treat is called the Pastel Cordobés. Essentially, it’s sweetened squash jam filling between two layers of puff pastry and topped with sugar and cinnamon. You might think that squash jam doesn’t sound very good, but trust me, it’s quite yummy.
Searching for Pastel Cordobés
We were told that almost every bakery made Pastel Cordobés in Cordoba, but it turned out to be a little difficult to actually get one.
Our first stop was Patisseries Roldán. With three locations, they’re one of the biggest and most popular bakeries in the city. Alas, when we arrived, there was no Pastel Cordobés. The other cakes and sweets in the case looked good, though.
We went to another bakery and I asked for a Pastel Cordobés, but, no luck. The owner gave me directions to another place, but they were complicated and my Spanish is non-existent, so we never found the place. Fact is, unless the place was right next door I don’t think I would’ve found it.
Anyway, we were just wandering around Cordoba when we stumbled upon Veca Cafe. Turns out they had a bunch of Pastel Cordobés stacked on the counter.
Usually Pastel Cordobés are pretty big, pie sized, and cut into slices. But, at Veca Cafe you get a smaller, individual sized pastry, although it’s still pretty big.
I must admit, the first bite was disappointing. It was just puff pastry and sugar. Sweet, but uninteresting. I opened up the Pastel Cordobés and saw that the jam didn’t go all the way to the edge. So, I got another bite, this time with the sweet squash jam and it was delicious!
Paired with a nice coffee, we were so glad that Patisseries Roldán didn’t have what we were looking for or we would have never found Veca Cafe.
Variations on Pastel Cordobés
Traditionally, Pastel Cordobés is just the squash jam between two layers of puff pastry and topped with sugar and cinnamon.
Today, however, variations abound.
Iberian Ham and Salmon have been used as fillings to make for a savory Pastel Cordobés. Other times you might see dried fruit or nuts like almonds or pine nuts topping the pastry. Apparently, there’s even a version topped in chocolate made at Panea Cafeteria in Mercado Victoria.
Feast Day of San Acisclo and Santa Victoria
November 17th is the Feast Day of San Acisclo and Santa Victoria, a brother and sister from Cordoba who were martyred in 304 CE.
For many years, the local newspaper Diario Córdoba, along with the city council and a pastry association, made a giant Pastel Cordobés every November 17th. The massive confection was cut up and handed out to hungry people. Unfortunately, that tradition is no longer.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides in Spain to Madrid and The Sherry Triangle. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.