Pestiños means Easter, tradition, community and a beautifully intoxicating aroma of orange blossom and anise.
The honey-bathed pestiños are one of the many Spanish sweets for which we need to thank the Moors. We’ll talk about the very strong Arab influence in the Spanish gastronomy some other time. But for now just Google the recipe for Moroccan ‘chabakias’ and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The pestiños consist on a thin fried dough which is aromatized with various species or liqueurs, most popularly orange blossom and matalahúva, a green anise liqueur from Andalucía. Once fried, they are either bathed in a honey-based solution or simply topped with sugar.
They are traditionally eaten during Lent, Carnival and All-Saint’s Day in many villages of Andalusia, where a huge frying pan is set up for all the locals to queue and fry their own pestiños. It’s an incredible community event that fills every corner and every house of the villages with an intense aroma of orange blossom and anise.
- For the pestiños:
- 300 gr Strong flour – you can also use plain flour but the result will not be as good.
- 125 gr Sherry wine – fino or amontillado are best
- 1 zest Orange
- 20 gr Sesame seeds
- 1 tsp Anise seeds
- 0.5 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch of Salt
- 125 gr Extra virgin olive oil
- 350 gr Sunflower oil
- For the honey-bath:
- 125 gr Honey
- 25 ml Water
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice
- Heat the olive oil over a very low temperature together with the orange zest and cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and add the sesame seeds and the anise seeds. Leave to infuse for around 20 minutes in order to aromatize the olive oil.
- Sieve the oil and reserve it. Crush the seeds with the help of a mortar until you get a paste and reserve too.
- Mix the flour, the cinnamon and the salt in a big bowl. Add the sieved oil, the sherry wine and start kneading until you obtain a dough. Then add the seeds paste and mix thoroughly until everything is well integrated. Then keep kneading for around 15 minutes, form a ball, cover with a clean damp cloth and leave the dough to rest for an hour.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and start making the pestiños. To do this, take a teaspoon of dough and roll it until you get a thin round-shape (remember, it must be a thin dough!). Then stick the two opposite sides together in order to create a lace (see picture above for reference) and fry in very hot olive oil until golden. Take out and leave in a plate with plenty of kitchen towels in order to absorb all the oil excess.
- Finally, put the honey, the water and the lemon juice in a small saucepan. When it gets hot, bath the pestiños in the mix, one by one, then leave to drain on top of a rack and serve.
- Roll them thin, make them small.
- Instead of coat them in honey and water, you can also coat them in a mix of sugar and cinnamon. Or even in chocolate!