Tortas Gaviño, the bakery that makes our Matiz Tortas de Aceite, is a family company that has been making traditional southern Spanish sweets in Sevilla for over a hundred years. It wasn’t easy to find an artisanal bakery to meet our exacting standards in creating the lightest, flakiest and most flavorful torta, but Tortas Gaviño impressed us with their old-world craftsmanship and commitment to quality.
Sevilla, one of the most famous of Spanish cities in Andalucía, is known for its sweet bakery goods. Especially around the holidays, there you’ll find an abundance of handmade cookies, cakes and pastries made with the simplest of ingredients – flour, water, salt, sugar, and extra virgin olive oil. The Gaviño family bakery began when Doctor Andrés Gaviño, pediatrician by training, had an interest in nutrition as an important aspect of good health (a budding concept around the turn of the century). His family home had a large wood-fired oven used for making bread and other sweets that they frequently shared with friends and family. As was custom, after the bread was done baking and the fires were left to die down, small hand-patted flatbreads that baked quickly were placed into the oven. They were made with simply flour, water, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. A bit of sugar was sprinkled on top, or a bit of aniseed was added to the dough for a special treat. The olive oil they used also came to their kitchen fresh, straight from the Gaviño olive mill.
Doctor Gaviño eventually turned this family tradition into a small company, and throughout the years the Gaviño family has maintained their original standards. Only natural ingredients are used, nothing artificial. Each precious torta de aceite is made by hand and then hand-wrapped in a little wax paper envelope to keep the delicate olive oil pastry fresh.
Tortas are incredibly light, flaky and rich, thanks to the copious amounts of flavorful olive oil (over 25%!) used in the dough, and as a result of the hand-rolling of each little ball of soft pastry. The tortas bake quickly in the intense heat of the oven, the dough bubbles up and forms air pockets which brown and caramelize with glossy sugar.
If you’re fortunate enough to stop by the Gaviño factory and store in Sevilla, you’ll still find ladies hand-patting little balls of dough, one by one, in a quick practiced motion that creates a perfectly thin round. They make it look easy, but when we stepped up to the production line and tried it ourselves, it was apparent that it takes years of practice!
Matiz Tortas de Aceite are a delicious snack with coffee or tea, are perfect slathered with a bit of fruit preserve, and make an elegant addition to a cheese board. These are invariably found at holiday tables throughout Andalucía and, here in the U.S., Matiz Tortas make a wonderfully unexpected hostess gift.
Click below to watch the torta masters work their magic.