Sausages of squidgy pastry stuffed with sweet somethings from Porteña
“In the UK you buy one coffee, one pastry,” says Federico of Porteña. “In Argentina you buy a whole box of pastries.” Initially at least, this sounds like a very bad idea.
Known as facturas, Argentinian pastries are generally speaking variations on the theme of flaky, buttery dough, filled with something sweet and creamy: a heart attack wrapped round a tooth cavity, in short, and highly addictive. Having a box seems like suicide. Fortunately, Federico goes on to explain. “It’s something we share. We buy a box full and eat them together in the afternoons.”
Not for the Argentinians a Friday feeling scoffed in secret under cover of a computer screen. Their facturas, sold from warm, bustling panaderías piled high with pastries in every shape imaginable, come in one size only: small, and are more often than not bought by the dozen, to be dished out among colleagues and friends.
Generous in both senses
Cut to Porteña in Borough Market, and the facturas are generous in both senses: in quantity, should you wish to buy a load and indulge the office, and generously-sized enough for you to indulge in one all your very own.
The cañoncitos are a case in point: long strips of dough lovingly kneaded and rolled into sausages of squidgy pastry stuffed with sweet somethings. We had dulce de leche—a creamy, almost hallucinogenically-rich caramel sauce that drips delectably with each mouthful.
But cañoncitos, Federico says, can be filled with just about anything. “Custard, vanilla custard, sweet potato paste, quince,” he lists, in what we assume is decreasing order of indulgence. The dulce de leche bulges promisingly, and we ask—what is the meaning behind their distinctive name? “They look like cannons. You know, in forts. The dulce de leche is the bomb inside,” he grins.