We’re nearing the time of year when Ecuador gets ready to celebrate Finados, All Soul’s Day, or the Day of the Dead. And though beer has suddenly dominated the festivities these days thanks to the now globalized Octoberfest, it has yet to garner the same passion and pride for Ecuadorians as the beloved guaguas de pan (bread doll) and colada morada (purple brew).
In Quito, the passion for this tradition (which possibly dates back to the 19th century) is reflected by both those who eat and those who cook these culinary staples, since every year bakeries around the city set out to improve their recipes and (above all) pretty-up their creations.
You could say, in fact, that this tradition may have had more to do with aesthetics than flavor. The guaguas sold today in cemeteries in Otavalo, for example, loaded with symbolism and always so beautiful, are not even sweet and are probably closer to the original recipe. That has changed here in Quito. They have transformed over time and become tasty treats full of flavor, texture… and delicious fillings.
This year, we set out in search of the best bread guaguas… So, let us share with you what we found.
1. Corfu / Cyrano
Corfú gets points simply for its long history of making top-notch colada morada and guaguas. The bakery offers a slew of versions. For many, they are considered the ‘traditional’ guagua de pan… (who even remembers what traditional guaguas de pan were like, anyway! Forty years ago, they weren’t sweet, had no filling, weren’t soft… But now, chocolate and dulce de leche fillings gloriously ooze into your palate!). We even tried a guagua that was a cake and not bread! You can order vegan guaguas, corn–based guaguas… or the Baltazara, the chocolate guagua. It would be impossible to snub this benchmark bakery.
2 Hay Pan
And of course, when it comes to tradition, there’s always competition. Hay Pan has quickly become a second benchmark bakery in the city. Like Cyrano, inspired by French baking culture, Hay Pan gets all-out-Ecuadorian to create its version. And it’s an intriguing twist at that: from the waist up, it’s a classic ‘brioche‘; from the waist down, it turns into a crunchier bread that recalls the original recipe: made in old brick ovens, browned until hard… The taste is delightful, with various, excellent fillings…
3 El Labrador Bakery
When you taste a guagua de pan, one’s hardly taken back further into the past than your own childhood. But the reality is that this tradition may be very old… who knows how old! And who better to remind us of this historical fact than Panadería El Labrador, with its precious Valdivia breads? Valdivias were prehistoric clay woman ‘dolls’ found along the Ecuadorian coast, created by the Valdivia people, one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas… We think the photograph speaks for itself! Don’t miss out on these beauties.
Chocolate house Pacari joined forces with one of Quito’s excellent chefs, Mauricio Acuña, to create this very special —and not as sinful as it seems (the dough’s vegan!) – guagua de pan. One hundred percent pure, Ecuadorian, eco-friendly chocolate… and in a shop like Pacari, chocolate isn’t taken lightly, oozing out from every pore: here there’s chocolate in the dough, in the filling, as decoration! A recipe you definitely should not pass up.
5 Maria La Panadería
A traveling guagua? For María La Panadería, traveling is the most important thing you can do in life… and since we can’t go very far these days, their bakers invite us to see the world through their beautiful Matryoshkas… guaguas half Quiteño, half Russian. Filled with organic fruits and chocolate from República del Cacao, made with fermented sourdough, this delicious brioche… with a solid ten in texture, filling, and flavor… deserves all the hype!
<h2 class=“subtitle”>Last but not least</h2>
DON’T MISS OUT on ‘colada morada beer’ from Omotos! We already tried it last year and are including it this year as well, because when October comes around, you have to drink beer!…! And why not make it fruity and tangy, in honor of the special date that’s coming up!