TRADITIONALLY MADE CAKES AND MACAROONS
Behind the walls of the convent of Santa Ana lies a magical bakery where the Dominican nuns make cakes with all natural ingredients.
Originally the nuns did embroidery, but then they decided to keep chickens and sell the eggs. An increase in the price of feed later led them to switch to making cakes, and that is where this tradition began.
After more than 30 years sweetening palates there is no cake that they cannot make: sachertorte, lemon, black forest gateau, coffee, mille-feuilles, etc. They currently make 15 different types of cakes and pastries, the most popular of which are the mille-feuilles, the Tarta San Marcos and the aitona (made with flaky pastry, sponge, whipped cream and butter-cream), though they also make Swiss rolls, teacakes and macaroons. The Tarta San Marcos is said to be their most popular item, but they also make a less sweet version which they have called Tarta Berrio-Otxoa.
They work mostly to order, but always have packets of macaroons (sponge teacakes typical of Bizkaia) for sale at around six Euros per half dozen.
Their cakes are made daily to order, as they use no preservatives of any kind, or indeed mechanical mixers or yeast. With their years of experience they can whip up cakes in the blink of an eye. The nuns sell their cakes using word-of-mouth as their only advertising strategy. According to sister Inés the secret is the love that they put into their work and the fact that everything is done by hand.
The nuns in Elorrio are also renowned for producing an ointment for burns and skin infections, made according to a formula handed down by their predecessors which consists of a mixture of olive oil, virgin wax and ivy leaves.
A miracle cure!