How To Recognize A Good Authentic Pasiego Sobao From


The sobaos pasiegos deserve a monument. The last name is important, since those industrial versions that swarm today in any supermarket have little to do with a authentic sobao of artisan tradition. It seems unbelievable that with so few ingredients one of the pinnacles of world confectionery can be reached, a sweet without frills that boasts a unique, irresistible character and is completely linked to the land where it is made.

Because if we specify that the sobao must be “pasiego” It is precisely to distinguish it from the versions that seek to emulate the traditional work of the Cantabrian valleys that have seen its birth. Some Cantabrian companies even sell sobaos that do not display the distinctive because they do not comply with the legislation of the quality seal. They are cheaper versions, sometimes aimed at a public with specific dietary needs, but they can catch the clueless buyer off guard.

To visit Cantabria is to surrender to its delicious gastronomy and take the opportunity to taste on site some of its best products and raw materials, where the sweet shines with its own light with various specialties that, inevitably, drink from the lifestyle of the land. In those valleys with sinuous curves and wild meadows where the green seems to have no end, the cow she’s the Queen.

In the easternmost part of the Community, the basins of the rivers Pas, Pisueña and Miera they irrigate the region of Valles Pasiegos, always green, sometimes dotted with colored flowers, often exhaling moisture. The farms and cabins continue to care for herds of cows whose delicious milk is used to make fabulous cheeses, top quality creams and, of course, the essential pasiega butter that defines the authentic sobao.

Selaya, Valles Pasiegos (Tony Roundabouts – Wikimedia Commons).

The birth of an icon

The gastronomic communicator Claudia González Crespo explains very well how the sobao was born, like so many traditional products and recipes, out of necessity in other times, when you had to make the most of every last crumb of bread. And it is that, originally, this sweet was made “kneading” the leftover bread with the ingredients that they had on hand, thus giving another use to the fat that they separated from the milk of their cows, the butter and eggs from their chickens.

Initially sweetened with honey, the sobaos were baked in rectangular or square paper molds, folded by hand, the famous ‘caps’ that still remain today as the recognizable traditional capsules. Cooked in domestic ovens or, as in so many towns, the communal one or the closest workshop, the sobaos settled as a preparation linked to festive occasions and celebrationsuch as weddings or local parties.


Already in the 19th century, its preparation spread and became professional, as the ingredients were democratized and it gained fame among foreigners, thanks to the impulse it achieved in the agricultural fairs when the pasiegas women began to sell it to merchants and fairgrounds.

The sobao thus acquired its definitive recipe, leaving behind the old breadcrumbs to use instead. wheat flour, and substituting honey for sugar, although some workshops maintain a quantity of that. beyond the mechanization and modernization of machinery and some processes such as baking and packaging, little else has changed. Except his enormous fame.

You will recognize him by his seals

That popularity and jump to mass manufacturing even outside their land led Cantabrian producers and authorities to launch protection measures that guarantee to maintain the quality and tradition of one of its most beloved products, which also represents the Community itself as an ambassador of its gastronomy and culture.

Sobaos Logos

Thus, in 2005 the IGP Sobao Pasiego was created, whose current specifications entered into force in 2016, under the competent authority of the Food Quality Office (ODECA), and with the regulations of Differentiated Food Quality of Cantabria.

According to the regulations, the official and genuine denomination is Sobao Pasiegoand only those that comply with the detailed technical and physical-chemical characteristics may be called and advertised in this way, as well as being essential to prove their origin and that of their raw materials.

The sobao paiego can only be made in the region of the country, a geographical area delimited by the Pas and Pisueña rivers in the central area of ​​the Autonomous Community of Cantabria. In this way, you can show off, in addition to the european stamp of Protected Geographical Indication, the one corresponding to Sobao Pasiego himself with his numerical code, and other distinctives linked to Cantabria and the region.

Sobaos2 2

How is an authentic sobao pasiego: ingredients and characteristics

He says sheet what a pasiego sobao:

“It is made from a whipped dough of wheat flour, butter, sugar, egg and a series of minor ingredients and additives that has the following organoleptic characteristics: deep yellow crumb with a toasted surface, dense and spongy texture, sweet flavor, highlighting in a special way the aroma of butter.

In addition, three sizes are specified (large, between 130 and 180 g; medium, between 40 and 80 g; and small, between 20 and 40 g) and the presentation in a square-based paper capsule, “in which the folds constitute characteristic wings”.

Sobao Ingredients2

The only admitted ingredients are:

  • Paseoga butter.
  • Sugar (sucrose).
  • fresh egg.
  • Wheat flour.
  • Minor and optional ingredients: dextrose, glucose, salt, grated lemon peel, anise or rum.
  • Optional additives allowed: propelling agent, potassium sorbate preservative in a maximum dose of 1.5 grams per kilogram of dough, butter aroma and humectant.

With this in mind, in addition to checking that the product bears the corresponding PGI seal, we can be guided directly by the list of ingredients. A good sobao must exhale butterso we are interested in choosing the one that includes the highest percentage, and preferably without aromas or flavorings that distract from its unmistakable dairy flavor.

Cut Handsg

You also have to look at the crumb, with its dark or slightly toasted upper crust, and a crumb of intense yellow color, spongy, riddled with tiny alveoli like tiny capillaries. If the sobaos do not have preservatives -more genuine- we will have to keep them carefully at home fleeing from the heat and consume them soon. Points are also added to those who present certain irregularitymoving away from identical industrial clones, without compromising their homogeneity in baking.

Where to buy the best sobaos pasiegos

The definitive test will be given to us, to clear up doubts, by tasting. It is recommended to take the sobao with a good glass of milk or cup of coffee, shamelessly wetting it after inhaling that fragrant smell of butter and checking its extreme elastic sponginess and absorption capacity. It is essential to contemplate the shiny fat groove that will leave us in the bowl and on the fingers, which must be licked afterwards.

Sobaos Brands

And for that tasting, there is nothing better than going to the workshops or official stores of the main companies and producers that take advantage of the quality mark. Many of them are also distributed in supermarkets, grocery stores and food stores throughout Cantabria, and we only have to look at the package to compare ingredients, sizes and production dates.

Many of them also wear prizes and special mentions that they have won in various competitions over the years, and the more modest producers also tend to appear at fairs and street markets, closely linked to traditional local festivals. And there are also those that allow visits to their facilities. Some of the most prominent are:

  • House the Macho. One of the most mythical companies in Cantabria and with the longest history, whose sobaos are offered in various formats, also with more innovative flavors, and are easily found in shops throughout Cantabria and outside of it. They sell online and in their physical store in Selaya.
  • the andral. They are also common in supermarkets and grocery stores in towns and cities throughout Cantabria. The farm and workshop is in Selaya, they have an online store and they stand out for their organic products.

Sobaos El Andral – Dani Tak

  • Diego’s Pasiegos. Winners of various awards, including the best sobao pasiego in Cantabria, this workshop in Hoznayo also makes quesadas, as well as sobaos with chocolate. His products can be found in stores throughout the Community and on his online platform.
  • Elm House. Founded in 1908, they have an online store although it is currently being updated. In Ontaneda and with distribution in various stores and ecommerce platforms.
  • Etelviña Sanudo. A more modest family business but with a long tradition and highly appreciated in the region, with a pioneer workshop in Vega de Pas. In addition to sobaos pasiegos without preservatives, they make pasta and other sweets. They have an online store and ship to the entire peninsula.
  • Joselin. Perhaps the most distributed brand outside of Cantabria, and undoubtedly one of the most popular along with El Macho. Although not all of their sobaos are from Pasiegos, the authentic ones with IGP are among the best known and most sought after, and are easily found in most gourmet stores and supermarkets throughout the country. They can be purchased directly online.

It is a matter of venturing, browsing, buying and trying and trying, because in the end, as in all gastronomic matters, the last word rests with the taste staff of each.

Sobaos Pasiegos

But, above all, it is necessary to verify that we are acquiring a true and genuine sobao pasiego registered with the IGP, the only guarantee of quality and tradition, since not all Cantabrian companies make 100% authentic sobaos. Which is not to say that they are not also good.

In DAP | Sobaos pasiegos recipe
In DAp | Pasiego sobao cake

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