Cristina Aguilera has spent half her life supplying the traditional Spanish mantecados and other handmade Christmas products to the sweet-toothed people of Malaga. Growing up among polvorones and hojaldrinas, this businesswoman from Antequera is one of the main reasons that Malaga can enjoy typical handmade treats every Christmas. Every year for the past twenty years, she has been selling the little cakes that are made daily in the bakery Los Antiguos de Antequera in pop-up shops that she opens every Christmas season.
For her, Christmas began in mid-October, which is when she opened the eight stores that, under the Delicias del Horno brand, will sell the most typical products of the holiday season until the end of December. In addition to the shop located in Calle Mármoles, they have other premises in Huelin, Cruz de Humilladero and Carretera de Cádiz (in the city), Torremolinos and in Antequera itself.
Cristina has flour, lard and sesame seeds in her veins. She signed her first employment contract at the age of 14, although nearly all her memories are linked to the factory where her father worked. Two decades ago, the entrepreneur decided to embark on a new adventure and open the first shops in Malaga.
Together with her sisters Virginia and Laura, she decided to try her luck in Malaga city, since the products were very popular with customers who came from there. Initially they started with three shops, but year after year they grew to the current eight. “What was hardest was running the stores as we were used to working, not managing,” she confesses.
Cristina’s routine has not changed in recent years: she gets up at six in the morning to go to the factory where they make the fresh products daily. She loads them into her car and takes them to the shop, which opens at 10 am. In the afternoon, while an employee manages the store, she returns to the factory to work.
She hopes that this year will at least be as good as last. Despite the pandemic, she knows that the people of Malaga like to buy the typical products, especially in the stores of the city. This year, as there are no mobility restrictions, she hope the sales, which in 2020 stagnated because of the lockdowns, will recover.
Although the work is based on traditional baked goods, Cristina usually introduces some new products every year. This year, 2021, they have begun to offer yolk and sweet potato cortadillos and puff pastries made with natural orange juice. Among the top products sold each year are almond alfajores, marzipan and cakes made with egg yolk.
The businesswoman confesses that the larger purchases will most likely begin in November, although for the moment they cannot complain about the sales they have. “For now people are buying for snacking; the kilos of cakes will be bought when the Christmas holidays approach,” she predicts.