Estepa is the cradle of mantecado and polvorón, it is known throughout Spain as "La Ciudad del Mantecado". The mantecado is a typical sweet of the Spanish pastry, characterized by being kneaded with lard and consumed at any time of the year, especially at Christmas.
Today there are 24 factories of mantecados, 20 million kilos produced per year and more than 2000 local workers make this industry an indispensable activity. Sales are around 50 million euros and 10% of this turnover is already generated abroad.
Estepa is proud to supply these Christmas products to all Spanish families during Christmas and invites everyone to know their industry and the secrets of making these sweets.
Mantecados y Polvorones
The mantecado is a typical sweet of the Spanish pastry, characterized by being kneaded with lard and consumed at any time of the year, especially at Christmas.
Its origin is Andalusian, some say that of Estepa and others of Antequera. Its popularity has spread to other regions and towns in Spain, where quality shortbreads are made, such as in Rute, Toledo or in the province of Valladolid, especially Portillo and Tordesillas.
The origin of the mantecado dates back to the 16th century, favored by the surplus of cereals and lard that was found in this part of Andalusia. Some say that in Estepa and others in Antequera, where there is even an ancient fresco that decorates the hall of plenary sessions of the town hall with a clear reference to the mantecados that were made there. Everything indicates that Antequera was where the original recipe for the mantecado was made. Even, long before they began to acquire fame the mantecados of nearby Sevillan lands, the factories of mantecados of Antequera were suppliers of the Royal House .
In those times Estepa had a remarkable pig hut that grazed freely in large areas of holm oak. The trees would disappear in the 18th century, eliminated by the French troops to prevent the guerrillas and the bandits from hiding there. Remaining the landscape as it is now known, cereal plain.
At that time, "butter cakes" were already being made in the houses of the town and in the Convent of Santa Clara, as evidenced by their historical archives that tell us about the containers used in their preparation.
The start of the commercialization of the mantecado took place in the middle of the 19th century, when the railroad allowed the Antequera companies to send their products to Madrid in a single day.
The shortcakes are classified mainly by their ingredients and geometric shape. Some of the most classic2
Handcrafted craftsmanship: hand molded. It can include sesame and cinnamon essence.
Cinnamon and sesame butter: with sesame seeds and cinnamon essence, but industrially made.
Almond butter: with crushed or powdered almonds.
Double cinnamon butter: typical artisan butter from Antequera.
Chocolate butter: with chocolate flavor.
Lemon butter: with the taste of lemon zest.
Puff pastry or hojaldrina butter: composed of thin sheets of puff pastry and sprinkled with icing sugar.
The polvorón is a specialty included within the mantecados, but in whose elaboration not only the characteristic ingredients of the mantecados are used, but, in addition, it always takes almond in different proportions, according to its category (extra, supreme, etc.). In addition, it has a more elongated, oval shape than mantecados and is covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar.
Mantecado de Gilena, neighboring town of Estepa. The only difference is that the flour is not toasted, the result being completely different, since a crunchy shortening is obtained below and more tender above.
Other similar Christmas sweets are the roscos de vino and the alfajores.