The best chocolate cake in Malta? The history behind Fontanella’s famous chocolate delight
Learn the story of the cake that has earned itself a country-wide following.
If you’re visiting the island for the first time, it won’t be long before you meet a local person who will happily recommend some of the best places to go and things to do in Malta. And, without a doubt, there will be a mention of Mdina and its, perhaps, most famous offering: the chocolate cake from Fontanella.
And, while this may not be on the guidebooks, going to Mdina without tasting the Fontanella chocolate cake is akin to going to Italy and not eating pizza.
“It’s the best chocolate cake on the island,” you’ll often hear say. But with so many delicious cakes baked by reputable sweet makers on the Maltese Islands, what makes this chocolate cake so very special?
“It is freshly homemade everyday according to my grandmother’s recipe,” says Alexia Sant Manduca, who has been learning the ropes in the family business for the past two years and also forms part of the baking team. Her grandmother, however, is still very hands-on when it comes to the biggest decisions.
Alexia explains that her grandmother, Louisette Sant Manduca, started out her business as a hobby, baking the first two cakes: the chocolate cake and the strawberry meringue. That was 44 years ago and she never expected Fontanella to become what it is today.
Fontanella Tea Garden, the first of its kind in Malta, was set up in the garden of Louisette's house, and it was named Fontanella due to the fountain found there. Today, Fontanella Tea Garden prepares more than 20 different kinds of cake - fresh, every day - and consists of a team of 30 people who are key to its success.
"Louisette constantly praises her hardworking and excellent team of staff because nothing is possible without them."
But why is the chocolate cake so famous?
“Well, there are a lot of chocolate lovers out there, that’s for sure,” Alexia muses. “We have always stuck to the same recipe and the fact that everything is homemade is a big plus.”
Indeed, the recipes have not changed along the years, but nor has the passion and dedication put into baking the cakes.
“The team, including myself, is up early to bake fresh traditional Fontanella cakes every day. We make more than 40 chocolate cakes every single day! We also deliver a number of chocolate cakes daily to households and offices, so we bake and prepare all the deliveries every morning,” says Alexia.
We know that we couldn’t ask to reveal the secrets of the recipe, but would they have any tips to offer when making our own chocolate cake? “Put all your love and passion towards baking...it’s key. And, stick to the recipe because every little detail counts!”
Apart from the amazing cakes, Fontanella is also famous for its magnificent views of the whole island - a visit here is an absolute must when touring Mdina!
Have you been yet?