Pastries New Mexico
New Mexican Pastries
With a short side of New Mexico History
Yes, the pastries from Manny’s Authentic New Mexican Bakery were as good as they look! These pastries were enjoyed by those attending the VCHS (Valencia County Historical Society) Annual Meeting. The bakery makes more than the items featured. The pastries served at the meeting included pastelitos, bischochitos, empanadas, cut-out iced cookies, and cupcakes. Also served was Coffee Purist coffee (see link below.)
Empanadas are fold over little pies with fruit fillings. They are a traditional New Mexican pastry. They are often filled with apricot and pineapple fillings. These were apple, apricot, pineapple, and cherry filled. The New Mexico visitor is apt to find empanadasat wonderful little bakeries like Manny’s Bakery as well as roadside vendors on the reservation. The good ones are flaky, sweet, and melt in your mouth. These are the good ones!
Pastelitos are small pan made pies that should be no thicker than your little finger. They feature crispier dough than the empanadas. These are apricot filled. In order to be at their best, pastelitos need to be fresh and these were made just a couple of hours before the meeting.
Biscochito is the official and traditional New Mexico cookie. The cookie features anise seed and is dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Traditionally it should be made with lard. Also, many home bakers add alcohol to the cookie dough. (These biscochitos contained no alcohol!)
Even in New Mexico the biscochito is considered a very regional cookie and has many different recipes. It was originally brought here in the 16th Century by the Spanish. There are many biscochito recipes.
The cup cakes and cut-out cookies recipes are a co-mingling of German bakery recipes and New Mexican cooking expertise. Many Germans came to this area and influenced baking. Gina, our wonderful baker at Manny’s, is the daughter of the founder of Manny’s. Her father was trained by a somewhat stern, German Baker here in New Mexico.
Those at the meeting also were served the fact filled, amusing, and well told story of how New Mexico became a state. It was not easy for New Mexico to achieve statehood.
New Mexico tried 62 times to become a state in the USA. In order to petition for statehood a territory had to: 1. Have a population of over 60,000, 2. Have a constitution, and 3. Have congress approve. New Mexico had all three.
Still New Mexico did not become a state until 1912. Mostly, the politicians in Washington DC did not understand the people, land, and value of the state.
New Mexico was considered a ‘lawless wasteland’ filled with Spanish and Mexican Catholics. (Oh dear!) Add to this to the politics of the era in both Washington DC and Santa Fe New Mexico and you had a mixture of reasons why New Mexico had to wait until 1912 to become a state.
The story of how New Mexico became a state was delightfully and fully told by Dr. Richard Melzer at the meeting. His books are featured below. He teaches history at the University of New Mexico Valencia County. Buy a book or take a class from Dr. Melzer, you will like it!
Do plan on visiting the Los Lunas Museum in Los Lunas NM, and the Harvey House Museum in Belen, NM. Both are supported by the Valencia County Historical Society.
Oh, if you ever want to meet for a cup of coffee and an empanada at Manny's, just let me know when!
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