Baking Around Europe: Portugal

Flag of PortugalWhen we think of Portugal, mostly what springs to mind are seafood dishes and desserts made of eggs and almonds. Having spoken to a couple of friends with Portuguese roots, in preparation for this article, we also learnt how important a good strong cup of coffee is. It’s a country packed full of flavour, and the locals are proud of this. Having visited Nando’s on a number of occassions, a certain dessert also sprang to mind, when thinking about Portugal’s most famous treats, which is where we’ve decided to begin this week’s article…


typical portuguese dessert pasteis de nata




Egg custard is a weakness of ours, despite a dislike for the taste of egg on its own. Somehow, the addition of milk and sugar to egg yolks transforms it into a dish so divine, we just can’t resist. What distinguishes these custard tarts from ones traditionally found in the UK is the pastry. Rather than a shortcrust, a flaky pastry is used.

Whilst having a read around about this one, we came across the belief that custard dishes, such as this, came about due to nuns in medieval times using egg whites to stiffen their habits. Not wanting to waste the yolks, many new recipes were worked on, including this tart. We’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank whoever discovered the use of egg whites to stiffen clothes.

There is a recipe for these on the website Leite’s Culinaria. With a description of “tastes like home, even if you’re not from Portugal”, we feel excited to give it a try!

close up croquettes in paper cornet on black trayPastéis de bacalhau

As mentioned in the introduction, Portugal is well-known for its seafood dishes. This is one of our favourites, as we love anything deep-fried. It’s essentially a salted cod fritter, combined with potato and onion. This sounds like the perfect comfort snack, or even a fun way to liven up a salad.

The perfect consistency is said to be crisp on the outside, yet creamy on the inside. It can be served hot or cold, but, in our opinion, eating such dishes when they have been freshly fried provides the best comfort food experience.

Here’s some instructions from Easy Portuguese Recipes, in case you fancy trying it for yourself.

traditional portuguese bread pao de deusPao de Deus

This roughly translates as “heavenly bread” or “bread of God”, which may be due to its delicious flavour, but it seems to also have something to do with the fact that it is handed out to the poor on All Saints Day. What makes this bread different to others is the addition of lemon zest to the dough and an egg and coconut mixture on the top.

We had never come across bread topped with a crust before, so we feel this is a truly special representation of Portuguese food.

Food blogger Chipa by the Dozen has a recipe for Pao de Deus on their website, which looks delicious.

Torta de Azeitão

Our final choice for this week’s article is another egg-based dessert. This one is a rolled sponge cake, coated in a sweet egg yolk. If you are a fan of such sweet treats, then you will love this. One recipe we found, on lifestyle blog Wish Wish Wish, calls for 16 eggs!

There is a bit of skill needed for making this dessert, as the whites and yolks need separating, with the whites then whisked to perfection. It seems to be a similar recipe to that of a roulade or a gateau, but even lighter and fluffier.

Topped with a dusting of cinnamon, this Portuguese pudding looks amazing!

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