Lisbon Is All About…CAKE!!! (Part II)

People have been asking about this already, and, as promised, here it is: the Lisbon Cake Post.

PastelDeNataBefore I launch into it, I’ll let you in on a dark and dirty secret: The famous Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata) – I’ve never been a fan. Shocking, I know!

I tried them a few times while I lived in London, and found them a bit insipid – quite cartony on the outside, and the flavour of the filling was just too eggy for me.

But now I’m a convert. The authentic article, fresh from the oven, is nothing short of orgasmic.

For my first taste of the real McCoy, I stepped inside the premises of the legendary Pastéis de Belém in the west of Lisbon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe queue might look formidable, but that’s for the take-away counter. The bakery’s café is surprisingly spacious, harbouring a warren of dining rooms, and finding a table did not prove to be a problem.

There’s even an observation window!

Custard tarts in the making

I’ll have six trays, please!

Custard Tarts 1

It’s not all about custard tarts, of course. This is the traditional Portuguese Christmas cake:

Christmas cake

It’s called “Bolo Rei”, which means king cake.

I don't remember its name, and it doesn't look like much, but it's delicious. It's the lightest, airiest sponge imaginable, with a very moist centre. I've no idea how this is even achieved, but it totally works.

I don’t remember its name, and it doesn’t look like much, but it’s delicious. It’s the lightest, airiest sponge cake imaginable, with a very moist, almost runny centre. I’ve no idea how this is even achieved, but it totally works.

As you can imagine, I scoffed all sorts of cakeage during my one week in Lisbon, including a gloriously fluffy creation called “bolo de deus” (cake of God), which came in the form of a bun. Now, if I were God and had to entrust my buns to anyone, it would definitely be the Portuguese!

[For Part I of what Lisbon is all about, click here.]

33 thoughts on “Lisbon Is All About…CAKE!!! (Part II)

  1. Anna

    Wow, I had no idea that Portugal is such a pastry place. I wish I had an epicurean guide for my Europan adventures when I was studying/traveling abroad. That eggy custard sounds especially amazing.


  2. Andean

    I have never seen anything like that “bolo de deus”. Is that a pepper in there? I would try a bite out of that bun. It’s quite colorful.


  3. expatsincebirth

    Love this! Thanks! I love the pastéis de nata! A friend of mine does them and I could “dive into them” 😉 I love Portuguese pastry! (a friend once said that it originated in Grisons, Switzerland, but I have to check if this is really true, haha!)


  4. expatlingo

    I love those eggs tarts. Lucky for me they are also considered a Hong Kong and Macau specialty because of the historic Portuguese influence in the area. In fact I just ate a delicious one on Boxing Day!


  5. camparigirl

    Day 2 of my second time in Lisbon saw a pilgrimage to Pasteis de Belem. Oh my god how much I love them. No one else comes close to their custard. I swear they are adding a secret ingredient I have not figured out yet. It was off season, so no line and plenty of empty tables inside the cavernous space. It was heaven! So jealous right now. Happy New Year!


  6. Jackie Cangro

    Oh my goodness. Where have these been all my life?
    During Mardi Gras season, New Orleans is also known for their King Cakes. Baked inside the cake is a tiny plastic baby. (Creepy, I know) Whoever gets the slice of cake with the baby in it will have good luck the rest of the year.


  7. bevchen

    My colleague raves about pastéis de nata, so I tried one at Lisbon airport just for her. I was expecting it to be horrifyingly sweet, but it actually wasn’t!


      1. bevchen

        I only saw them about twice in Madeira, and also some bigger ones called something like “tartes de nata” but I didn’t end up eating any there.


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