Paulita’s Pastries offers family recipes of Mexican delicacies

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CEDAR RAPIDS – Carmen Castro grew up making her grandmother’s recipes for Mexican desserts like empanadas, conchas and flan. Now she’s helping her mom Paula Rogers share those treats with Cedar Rapids. The two opened Paulita’s Pastries on July 20 inside NewBo City Market.

“I think Mexican pastries are delicious. My goal is for everyone to know about them,” Rogers said. “I like to share my flavors with people.

They moved from Dallas, Texas to Iowa when Castro enrolled at the University of Iowa. She has since transferred to Coe College, where she is studying molecular biology.

Before deciding to pursue scientific studies, she planned to study to become a chef, she said. The bakery was a good outlet for this passion; she is there almost every day to help out after class.

“I love cooking and baking, and spending time with my mom,” she said. “My grandmother in Mexico taught me all about baking, and we continued to bake when we moved here.”

Bread pudding is their signature offering, Rogers said. Her mother, known as Mami Zefi, still lives in Veracruz, Mexico, and the recipe makes her feel close to her.

“In my family, every birthday, every Christmas, every holiday, they ask my mom for her bread pudding,” she said.

They only offer it on weekends, she says, because they make it a big, fresh casserole every time, with different flavors, including vanilla, cinnamon and raisins.

Rogers’ sister, Nancy Garces, also helps. Her favorite things to make are bread pudding and conchas, which are time consuming, taking several hours to make. Conchas, which get their name from their shell-like shape, consist of a sweet bun with a crumbly cookie dough filling.

Everything at the bakery is made from scratch in an oven tucked away at the back of the small market stall. They also make their own marmalade toppings for their pastries, including pineapple and strawberry empanadas. They plan to continue adding flavors, like a pumpkin empanada for fall.

They also plan to start baking Mexican sweet bread and plan to have Day of the Dead specials from October 31 through November 2 and Three Kings Day on January 6. Both festivals are associated with special breads.

Other treats on the menu include biscuits with caramel or chocolate in the middle and crispy filled pastries called hojaldras.

Castro said she appreciates the market’s busy location because it means the pastries reach a wide range of people.

“It’s especially gratifying when Hispanics come by and see things from their culture,” she said. “And getting different people to like our stuff is really good.”

Comments: (319) 398-8339; [email protected]

If you are going to

• What: Paulita’s pastries

• Where: NewBo City Market, 1300 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

• Details: (319) 640-0548

Paula Rogers (left), owner, and her sister, Nancy Garces, stand behind the counter at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Decorations are seen at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, September 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

A refrigerated case full of flan and pies is decorated at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Nancy Garces helps a customer at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Nancy Garces (right) and Paula Rogers (left) help customers at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on mom’s recipes owners. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Paula Rogers, owner, helps a customer at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Rebecca F. Miller Photos/The Gazette Paulita’s Pastries, owner Paula Rogers (left), and her sister Nancy Garces stand behind the bakery counter, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on September 13. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on their mother’s recipes.

A tray of jam-filled homemade empanadas is displayed at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

A concha, a sweet bread made to look like a seashell and meant to be enjoyed with coffee, is seen at Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats according to the recipes of the owners’ mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Piñatas decorate the walls of Paulita’s Pastries, a stand at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Paulita’s Pastries is seen at NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, September 13, 2019. The bakery offers homemade Mexican treats based on recipes from the owners mother. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

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