< Back to Recipes  



The Spanish Recipes

Alfonso Lopez from Sabor de España helped me with connections on a trip to Spain last fall, and Fernando Sánchez from Naturvie showed me around his olive orchards and mill in Extremadura, the westerly part of Spain. A few months after our trip my husband and I had a leisurely lunch with them at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco when they were in town for the Fancy Food Show. During the lunch Alfonso talked about typical Spanish recipes for sweets, many of which are made for a special full moon harvest party at Fernando’s estate. I asked him to send them to me when he returned home. The next week I received the first recipe, translated from the Spanish by Alfonso. Shortly after, another e-mail arrived with more.

There were recipes for Magdalenas (cupcakes), Roscos (donuts), Jeringos (savory churros), Gachas (a porridge), Zopaipas (dough that is thinly stretched, then cut into shapes and deep-fried), and Buñuelos de Caña (pastry that is rolled, then deep-fried.) All contained extra-virgin olive oil and many were fried in extra-virgin olive oil. To replicate some of the recipes, I thought it would be best to watch an experienced hand at work, so I did not include them here.

Curiously, the list of ingredients is similar for all the recipes, but the tastes are different, a result of different proportions and cooking methods. Here are two of my favorites, adapted for American kitchens.


Magdalenas (Small Cakes)

When I first read this recipe for small cakes, I realized that the proportions of flour, eggs, fat (in this case olive oil instead of butter) and sugar were the same as an old-fashioned pound cake. Today’s pound cake recipes usually replace some of the fat with liquid. I let the recipe stand and was delighted with the texture and taste.

These certainly stand alone, but if you want to dress them up, dust them with powdered sugar before serving.

12 cupcakes


7 ounces (1 ½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs, at room temperature
7 ounces (1 cup) granulated cane sugar
7 ½ fluid ounces delicate or medium (low to moderate bitterness and pungency) extra-virgin olive oil
grated zest of ½ lemon


Preheat the oven, to 350°F with a rack positioned on the middle shelf.

Line a 12-piece cupcake tin with paper liners.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat with a hand whisk until well combined and slightly thickened. Add the olive oil and beat until smooth. Grate the zest directly into the bowl and whisk again. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into a large measuring cup with a spout. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake molds, filling each about ¾ full.

Bake until puffed, lightly browned, and a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Cool on a rack, then remove the individual cakes from the tin.


Rosquitos de Naranja (Orange Doughnuts)

These are cake donuts—sometimes called old-fashioned donuts—made without yeast. Although the ingredients are similar to the cupcakes, the cooking method changes the taste.

8 to 10 doughnuts, depending on how many doughnut holes are re-rolled


3 ½ cups (15 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 large egg at room temperature
½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated cane sugar
7 tablespoons (3 ½ ounces) extra-virgin olive oil
7 tablespoons (3 ½ ounces) orange juice
grated zest from ½ lemon
6 cups delicate (low bitterness and pungency) extra-virgin olive oil for deep frying
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated cane sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon for rolling fried doughnuts


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium-size bowl whisk the egg and sugar until well combined and slightly thickened, a few minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and orange juice. Grate the zest directly into the bowl, then whisk again. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth, a few turns.

Flatten the dough into a rectangle. Roll the dough to ½-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round, floured cookie cutter, cut out disks of dough. Then, using a 1-inch round, floured cookie cutter, cut a hole in the center of the large disks. Re-roll the leftover dough and as many of the doughnut holes as you wish to make more doughnuts.

Transfer the disks to the baking sheet.

Line another baking sheet with paper towels.

Pour the oil into a heavy saucepan or tall skillet to a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts, turning them once, with a skimmer or slotted spoon, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Regulate the heat so that the oil stays at 375°F.

Transfer the doughnuts to paper towels to drain. When cool, roll them in cinnamon sugar.


HOME            ABOUT            BOOKS            EVENTS            MEDIA            RECIPES            STORIES            CONTACT

© 2011 Fran Gage. All Rights Reserved      |      Site Design: The Engine Room      |      Photographs: Maren Caruso