Arroz al horno con pasas y garbanzos / arròs al forn amb panses i cigrons (oven baked raisin and chickpea rice)

Oven-baked chickpeas and raisins rice (arròs amb cigrons i panses)

This is one of the most surprising Valencian dishes I’ve learned about recently.

It uses just a few humble ingredients to deliver way more flavour than you could possibly expect. And it uses a sweet ingredient (raisins) on a savoury dish—not a typical feature of dishes that side of the world!

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Carquinyols (Vall d’Albaida style)

Carquinyols / casquinyols in a saucer

This is the type of low-key sweet that you would get on a visit to the bakery—go to buy a bread loaf, and come back with that but also half a quarter of these for your mid-morning coffee.

Unfortunately, someone in my family has developed a nut allergy so they’re not casually acquired anymore, and they’re also quite regional so I haven’t had the chance to find them in my most recent visits to Valencia. And then, there’s lockdown and no travelling, so… time to bake some, as I’ve been craving these for a while!

They’re quite easy to make, so if you are tired of baking cookies and shortbreads and feel like attempting something more exotic, try this. (I mean, at this point going to a different supermarket a few blocks away already feels super “exotic”, so imagine baking something typical from two countries away!)

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Pa de Sant Antoni (savoury, with sourdough)

The crumb of a plaited Saint Anthony's bread

After my first attempt at a Pa de Sant Antoni and realising that it was sweeter than I remembered it, I decided to develop a recipe for a savoury version.

I was also really determined that it had to be a plaited bread, which inevitably forces you to use a less wet dough so you can handle and shape it without losing your wits.

The result, once baked, has less definition in the plait than I’d like, but I am very pleased with the bread itself nonetheless. The crumb was quite open, and the anise flavour was there to give it the air of an special bread. I also practiced “painting” the surface with water to give it a smoother surface, and it worked! It felt a bit like biting into a brioche. Quite interesting!

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