DININGWhere to find the best local pastries

From plump twirls to chewy pretzels, here are some of our favourites pastries from across the globe

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Across the globe, different countries and cultures have created their own speciality pastries from just three simple ingredients: eggs, flour and butter. Here, we explore some of our favourites, from plump twirls to chewy pretzels. 

 

Mallorca – Ensaimada

Mallorca’s ensaimada is the Balearic island’s most famous pastry. Originally created as a celebratory treat in the 17th century, the spiral-shaped pastry comes in both sweet and savoury versions, either filled with cream, custard or chocolate and topped with apricots or almonds; or made with a rich chorizo paste (sobrasada). Each ensaimada is sprinkled with a dusting of sugar to represent the snow that falls on the Tramuntana Mountains in winter. Devour one at breakfast over coffee or pick one up as a souvenir and take it home in a signature octagonal box.

 

Frankfurt – Pretzel

The pretzel might enjoy global popularity, but its roots are in German cooking. Supposedly invented by a Christian monk, the unmistakable twisted coil of dough owes its appearance to the shape of crossed arms in prayer. The pretzel is so intertwined with German culture, in that it’s the official emblem of bakers, and you’ll often spot golden pretzels dangling outside bakeries across the country. In Frankfurt, you’ll find the softest, chewiest pretzels at the modern German baker, Zeit für Brot, just five minutes’ walk from Jumeirah Frankfurt.

 

Shanghai – Xie ke huang (Yellow Crab Shell)

When it comes to pastries, dumplings and delightful dim sum, the choice is seemingly endless in China. Originating from Shanghai’s teahouses in the early 20th century, xie ke huang actually owes its name to its resemblance to a yellow crab, rather than its filling. A doughnut-shaped sphere of golden pastry, xie ke huang can be savoury, filled with prawn, crab or pork, or sweet with bean paste or rose petals. Each xie ke huang is covered in a thick coating of sesame seeds. Like so much of Shanghai’s food culture, street food stalls and hole-in-the-wall bakeries are the best places to sample this delicacy. The historic Wuyuan Bakery makes some of the best xie ke huang you’ll find in Shanghai, cooked in a traditional clay oven.

 

London – Chelsea Bun

Taking its name from one of the English capital’s most distinguished districts, the Chelsea Bun is a sticky-sweet coil of dough covered in lemon peel, cinnamon, and glazed brown sugar, studded with currants. Created in the 18th century at Chelsea’s Bun House, this iconic sweet treat was a favourite of King George II, who used to visit the shop in the morning. No longer the preserve of royalty, Chelsea Buns can be found at all good London bakeries. For the freshest and finest in the capital, make a beeline for The Flour Station at Borough Market.

 

Dubai – Ma’amoul

Generously stuffed with local ingredients, including dates, pistachios and figs, ma’amoul are an ancient Arabic pastry. A rich, crumbly, dome-shaped shortbread houses a fruity, nutty interior. Rose or orange blossom water are occasionally added, lending floral notes to the pastry. Ma’amoul are often eaten over religious holidays such as Eid, but you’ll find them alongside other delicious Arabic sweets at bakeries year-round. In Dubai, call in to Arabesq at Dubai Mall to pick up some exquisitely boxed ma’amoul to take home.