The fact that “Mantecados from Estepa” have been made for over a century with great prestige and reputation owes nothing to chance, but to the effort and commitment of every generation that has fought to maintain and improve the quality of their products, though other regions have also begun producing mantecados.
Over a century of tradition
The industries dedicated to the processing and packaging of the products under the Protected Geographical Indication “Mantecados from Estepa” are established in the municipality of Estepa, located in the southeast of Seville, this town has always been famous for its long tradition and high reputation in pastries. In fact, it was a confectioner representing his guild who, in the sixteenth century, signed the transfer of these lands to the first Marquis of Estepa.
The origin of the mantecado goes back to the Convent of Santa Clara in Estepa during the sixteenth century, when there are references regarding the preparation of Mantecados from Estepa following ancient traditional recipes and where they had confectioners to cover the demands coming from Seville or Madrid.
An exquisite recipe
Historic references confirm Estepa’s ancient tradition in artisan confectionery. These recipes were developed in the sixteenth century, although it is in 1870 when mantecados begin to be sold as we know them today. Primitive sweets made of pork lard, wheat flour and sugar known as “lard cakes” were made in almost every home. But the ones made by Micaela Ruiz Tellez had an excellent reputation thanks to the unique preparation process by which she refined and toasted the flour, making a soft, smooth dough. Taking advantage of the fact that her husband worked as a carrier, she began to market “mantecados from Estepa”.
In order to improve its flavor and to avoid the product from being damaged during the long journeys, Micaela made some changes in the preparation, as the drying process that made the product firm and dry on the outside and soft on the inside.
These changes led to a very prestigious product among the confectioners. Over time, mantecados became a very popular pastry during Christmas holidays, which increased the number of companies dedicated to the production of “Mantecados from Estepa”.
The increasing number of producers causes the Local Authority to promote self-control among them. In this regard, the mayor of Estepa, Mr. Salvador Moreno Duran, meets with the producers on September 1, 1927, in order to sign agreements which guarantee the quality of the products.
Living by and for the mantecado
After the Civil War, the mantecado industry began to develop quickly, driven by government support that seeked to maintain these local industries in spite of famine and the rationing of food. In the mid-sixties, cooperatives are used for purchasing raw materials and implementing common policies and conditions for this sector.
Nowadays during the campaign, Estepa is transformed in a town that lives by and for their mantecados. Traditionally, almost every family takes part in the production process at one of the over 20 factories which currently produce “Mantecados from Estepa”. These very family-oriented companies pass down through the generations, some of which are now being managed by third generation family members.