Stumbling across Bizcochos of Cayambe

Ecuador travelogue: Chapter 10 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery

Bizcocho is a generic Spanish name for variants of buttery flaky pastry and some cookies. In Ecuador, this little town of Cayambe, less than an hour north of Quito, makes the most tasty bizcochos ever. Every bite of these buttery biscuits and every crumbling edge of the golden snacks traces its origins to the initial waves of Spanish settlers that invaded Latin America.

↑ Bizcochos and the baker’s daughter who insisted on being in the picture

I happened to visit this town by chance. After visiting the Equator at the Quitsato Mitad del Mundo, I was told that in order to reach Otavalo by bus, I needed to go to Cayambe and take a different bus there. While walking in Cayambe, I was astonished to see nothing but golden biscuits virtually all around me, so I curiously popped into one of the stores.

↑ I have no idea how stores distinguish themselves from others. What’s the competitive advantage? Does it average out? What’s the effect of a blue sign v/s a green one?

Typically served with the Andean speciality queso de hoja (string cheese) or dulce de leche (milk sweets), these treats are excellent with jams and marmalade as well. Perfectly complimenting a cup of cafe con leche (black coffee), the snack was just the right thing to have after I returned from a daytrip. I tried Bizcochos in numerous places in Ecuador, but none of them were as delicious.

It’s kinda bizarre, but there are rows after rows of stores selling bizcochos, making me wonder what happened to all the grocery stores and hardware stores and barber shops. Cayambe is popular for its bizcochos, and almost all Cayambeños (people of this village) are involved in baking these goodies.

Early in the morning bakers all over Cayambe wake up to mix wheat flour, sugar, margarine, yeast and a bit of salt. Then, they let the dough rise for about an hour before they begin kneading and stretching it to cut it into little pieces that are neatly lined on baking sheets. On average, a bizcocho shop bakes between 1,500 and 2,000 pieces a day, so you can get warm, out-of-the-oven bizcochos any time of day. – Viva guide

↑ Bizcochos. Freshly stacked, ready to go.

I asked the owner to give me 30 bizcochos which I brought back to the hotel as presents to my friends, like a pirate who had discovered a booty. Oh how popular I became that evening… 😉

Ecuador travelogue: Chapter 10 | Read other chaptersSee photo gallery