What is marquesote?
Marquesote is a must in Salvadoran cuisine and can be found on the tables of all families. This is a traditional cake made from simple ingredients: eggs, sugar and flour.
Marquesote is a cake that is produced locally without any electric mixer or food processor. Its origins are unclear. This is a popular Salvadoran cake that goes perfectly with a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate. It is done by hand and with the family.
Some Salvadorian families have not hesitated to market and trademark it, as is the case in the city of San Ramon, a municipality of Cuscatlán known for its vegetable growing. The Ministry of Tourism now supports local artisans and a festival of marquesotes is organized once a year. Tourists often buy dozens of them and bring them as gifts to their loved ones.
How to make marquesote
The preparation of the marquesote can be long and tedious because the egg whites need to be beaten by hand. First, the egg whites are separated from the egg yolks. The egg whites are beaten, then using a large wooden pallet, the egg whites are slowly added to the rest of the ingredients. The cake is cooked in rectangular molds. Tradition has it that we serve marquesote in long rectangular slices.
What are the variants of marquesote?
In Europe, there are two similar cakes: the Genoese sponge cake and the Savoy cake. The Genoese cake is the equivalent of the marquesote. This cake does not contain fat in its ingredients. Its light texture is due to the eggs, which are beaten for a long time with the sugar to obtain a frothy consistency. Its origin dates back to 1747 and it was created by Jean Baptiste Gio Batta Cabona. The Republic of Genoa, having maritime trade relations with other states, including Spain, France and Portugal, sent Marquis Domenico Pallavicini to the court of Madrid between 1747 and 1749. Domenico Pallavicini brought with him the staff of his house. Among the servants who followed Marquis Pallavicini was a young confectioner, Gio Batta (John Baptist) Cabona, who had been serving the ambassador’s family for years. At a reception in Madrid, Pallavicini ordered a different cake from him. With the simple handling of ingredients, from the classic Savoy cake, Cabona invented a batter that was extremely light. This cake generated so much wonder and enthusiasm at the court of Spain that it was agreed to name such a marvel of lightness, the name of Genoese. In Genoa, and since then in Italy, this cake has been named pan di Spagna (Spanish bread), in honor of King Charles II and his court.
The Savoy cake is prepared with the same ingredients as the marquesote and introduces beaten egg whites into its preparation. This step gives the cake a light and airy texture. The Savoy cake comes from a recipe developed in the fourteenth century, at the time of Count Amedee VI. The creation is sometimes attributed to Pierre de Yenne, master chef of the count before 1343. However, some sources indicate that the master chef was Jean Belleville or Jean de Belleville. He is supposed to have created the recipe for Savoy biscuit, between 1348 and 1367. The cake would have been presented to the Emperor, probably Charles IV, passing through Savoy, between 1373 and 1383 on the occasion of entering the castle courtyard or a banquet. The cake would have had the shape of the Duchy of Savoy, with its mountains and valleys, all surmounted by an imperial crown.
In Mexico, the marquesote is different from the Salvadoran version. It is a traditional bread, drier than its Salvadoran cousin. It is mainly eaten in some Mexican states such as Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz and Puebla. It is usually sold in markets and open air markets called tianguis.
In some cities in El Salvador however, the baking method of the cake may differ. The cooking time is sometimes reduced to 15 minutes while increasing the temperature of the oven to 450 F. This procedure gives the cake a crisp and darker crust. Also, the appearance of the cake is flatter and more regular.
We hope you will enjoy this marquesote!
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup flour , sifted
- 1 cup caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon green anise powder (optional)
- For the mold
- 2 tablespoons fat (butter, margarine, or oil)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease a baking mold about 7 x 11 inches and dust with flour.
- Separate the eggs.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until reaching soft peak by gradually adding half of the sugar.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time and add the other half of the sugar at the same time.
- Then add the sifted flour, cinnamon and anise (optional) and mix with the flat beater, at low speed, until everything obtaining a homogenous batter.
Pour the mixture immediately into the baking pan.
- Bake for about 25 minutes. To check if the cake is fully baked, the tip of a knife inserted at the center of it should come out clean. Extend baking by a few minutes if necessary.