Sweet innovation

The Mapuche pastry treats hidden deep in the Chilean capital

A creative baker is bringing traditional ingredients to life in the lesser-known Santiago district of Peñalolén, offering quinoa cookies, piñón flour cakes and native berry jams.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011  
The murtilla berry is a traditional ingredient in Mapuche sweets. (Photo: rsaezn/Flickr) The murtilla berry is a traditional ingredient in Mapuche sweets. (Photo: rsaezn/Flickr)

Ángel Joseate came to Santiago from the small community of Palma Manquevid, in the heart of the Araucanía region. He studied to be a car mechanic, but in a fortuitous twist of fate, ended up working as a baker’s assistant - and found that he liked it.

“I had a good job and it was entertaining, but I always wanted to go out on my own,” he told Las Últimas Noticias. And so Joseate began to think of ways to open his own shop.

“I thought about a bread bakery, but it was like making more of the same thing. That’s when it occurred to me to take hold of my roots and cross pastries with Mapuche ingredients,” he said.

The next step was to investigate different uses of traditional Mapuche ingredients, like: quinoa, an Andean grain; piñon, the nutritious nut of the Araucaria tree; rosa mosqueta, the fruit of the wild rose hip bush; and murtilla, sometimes called the Chilean guava, a small berry native to Chile and Argentina.  

The Mapuche culture does have a culinary tradition of sweets, including desserts like catuto, a bread roll of cracked wheat covered with rose hip and blackberry jam. But Joseate dreamed of creating birthday cakes and Chilean-style pastries.

“I experimented with piñón flour and I came up with a cake, to which I added wild rose hip jam and cream,” Joseate said.

Once Joseate unlocked the secret of using piñón flour in cake, he started to branch out: quinoa cookies, honey catutos, natural yogurt, piñón flour cakes, and murtilla muffins.

His exotic idea - which, technically, is not exotic at all - won a grant from Sercotec, the Technical Cooperative Service responsible for awarding thousands of dollars of seed capital each year to small businesses around the country. 

Joseate named his shop Liwen, which means “to dawn” in Mapudungún, the language of the Mapuche people. 

“I want to expand and buy machinery, since right now my pastry shop is small and it’s just me and my wife working here,” Joseate said. “My clients are people who are looking for innovative things with a higher cultural level and who know our culture.”

Where: To try one of these delicious innovations, visit the Liwen shop in Peñalolén, street Víctor Jara 2176. You can make special requests by calling (02) 311-4102 or (09) 8890-9214.

img_banner