For several generations of 'Malagueños', tasty 'locas' form part of childhood memories, unknown to people outside the city and its surroundings. When Malaga started to become a tourist destination, the bright orange colour of those round cakes and their ubiquity in the windows of patisseries and bakeries began to attract the attention of visitors. The Confitería Tejeros bakers, key to the popularisation of this puff pastry dessert, had the bright idea to consecrate it as a symbol of the city and create an edible souvenir, launching small formats, fun packs and cocktail snack versions.
Today, ice-cream shops such as Nonna make ice-creams made of loca, and chefs such as Pepo Frade, from Aire Gastrobar, make a savoury version.
Locas are not refined or luxurious. Quite the opposite.
"It was born in the post-war period, when people expected a good and satisfying cake," explains Manuel Ruiz, the current manager of Tejeros.
The creator was Eduardo Rubio Cao, a footballer from Barcelona who signed as a defender for CD Málaga football team in 1950. At the time, professional sportsmen's salaries were not as high as they are today and they had to supplement their income. Rubio, a pastry chef by trade, came up with the idea of filling two puff pastry discs with crème pâtissière, covering them with an orange glaze and finishing them off with a dot of icing.
In 1954, the song A lo loco se vive mejor, by Luisa Linares and the Galindos, (roughly translated as 'life's better if you go a bit crazy'), took the radio by storm, and the sunshine of that little cake, which brought joy to a sad and grey society, was identified with joie de vivre.
The sweet started out as "loco", but when Rubio's employees, José Ruiz and María Jesús Fernández, Manuel Ruiz's parents, opened their own bakery in Tejeros street in the Victoria neighbourhood of Malaga, it changed to "loca".
Over time it has become a speciality in almost every city bakery has shrunk in size and begun to travel to distant countries as a souvenir of Malaga (with the added advantage of not having to be kept chilled). Look for them in city bakeries, grocery shops or in the Tejeros bakery in Calle Obispo Salvador de los Reyes.