Traditional Desserts of Portugal
Portugal – The history of Traditional Portuguese Desserts can be likened to a poem composed of words as simple as the ingredients used in the major- ity of recipes included in this rst philatelic issue devoted to this sweet theme. Water, eggs, sugar, milk and wheat our are a starting point for many creations, transforming, in the experienced hands of our pastry chefs, into sumptuous desserts, prodigious in shape, delicate in texture and surprising in avour. Like the best poems of simple words, through the alchemy of cooking, be it a simple chemical interaction or beautiful divine inspiration, the bringing together of these ingredients results in exceptional desserts that do not allow us to forget the places they were created and the people who made them or with whom we savour them. They penetrate our beings and we are never again able to escape from the memory of how they tasted. Just like the most beautiful poems that cause us to over ow with emotion, traditional Portuguese desserts ll our hearts with sweetness transformed into happy feelings.
Pastéis de Tentúgal, Pastéis de Belém, Ovos-Moles de Aveiro, Queijadas de Vila Franca: these are the names of the desserts looked at in this rst adhesive issue from Correios de Portugal, paying tribute to the genius, creativity, expertise and soul of our pastry chefs and the authenticity of our desserts. They celebrate what sets us apart in an area in which Por- tugal has distinguished itself. An authentic journey through the country, these desserts form part of a legacy of recipes that allows us to discover our villages, towns and cities as something more than small black dots on the map of Portugal. A journey into the history of the dessert with humble beginnings, sweetened by honey and by the beauty of wanting to honour break-times in a frugal way of living, happy occasions within the family, within the community, but becoming the protagonist of a rich history of both modest and great circumstances where eggs and sugar are lord and master of many stages.
This is the start of a voyage through desserts that unfold in a thousand textures and avours. More than just ennobling our recipes, giving them breadth, giving them vigour beyond the publicity, this is an opportunity to discover the uniqueness of each of them. As well as the avour, it is important to understand the how, why, where and who. To comprehend how the sweet ballet that the pastry chefs of Tentúgal dance around a simple ball of dough results in a ne, delicate lm with which to make the famed Pastéis de Tentúgal. To discover the ovo-mole in the context of its history, the avour of its wafer-enclosed lling in the shape of conches, shells and sh from the enormous mirror of water that is the Aveiro lagoon. To discover Pastéis de Belém and the stories accompanying them in the legendary bakery where they soar between cinnamon and co ee in the urry of demand from so many fans. To try Queijadas de Vila Franca do Campo and appreciate the delicious taste of a recipe that takes us back to one of the oldest ways to sweeten the end of a meal and thus nd grateful welcome among us.
In this series of adhesive stamps, showing images that whet the appe- tite, we will discover not only the desserts, but also the hands that create such beautiful poetry and sing so serenely, peacefully and with such de- termination, the recipes known by heart, the rhythmic actions, conscious but involuntary, a permanent legacy of the knowledge they possess and the pleasure with which they give it.
As in the most beautiful poems, we discover that beauty starts with sim- plicity. The words are short, the ingredients are simple, the hand is ex- pert, the action is delicate, the poem gleams with emotion, the dessert leaps out with its avour and warms our hearts like a love poem.
Pastel de Belém
Legend and history coincide when we speak of Pastéis de Belém. The secret recipe known only by a few master pastry chefs at one time, the lling prepared in the “Secret Workshop,” and the great popularity of this custard tart make the Pastel de Belém an icon of Portuguese desserts, the star of a story that seems somewhat hazy. Perhaps it is best to start with what is known of its origins. In fact, in the cookbook taken by Infanta Dona Maria (1521-1577), daughter of King Manuel I of Portugal, as part of her trousseau on her marriage to the Duke of Parma, we nd a recipe for milk tarts. It is clear from these predecessors that the ingredients and method point to what would later become custard tarts, as recorded by Lucas Rygaud in 1826 in his book Cozinheiro modemo ou nova arte de cozinha [The Modern Cook or the New Art of Cuisine, published in Lisbon, in 1807]. The production of the tarts began in 1837, in facilities annexed to a sugar cane re nery near the Jerónimos Monastery, meaning that their reputation would always be associated with the name “Belém.” However, more important than the recipe, which is not public knowledge, is a visit to the Pastéis de Belém bakery. It is a cultural experience because of the unique surroundings where the aroma of the tarts, cinnamon and co ee mingle in a baking idyll that always conjures happy memories.
Ovos-Moles de Aveiro
Ovos-Moles (lit. soft eggs), in all their simplicity, are the result of combining raw egg yolks with a sugar syrup. Once served in wooden or porcelain pots painted with motifs of the Aveiro lagoon, at the mouth of the river Vouga, it is thought that their modern-day wafer covering was devised by a nun from the Mosteiro de Jesus, making this dessert easier to handle. The choice of lagoon-related shapes, such as crabs, mussels, shells and conches, among others, made Ovos-Moles even more appealing. It is a prime example not just of creativity in terms of the variety of shapes, but also of the expertise involved in their preparation. The egg yolks are added to a sugar syrup carefully heated to a point between the soft-ball stage and the thread stage, then cooked at a speci c temperature. The cook’s experience in handling the mixture is fundamental for the avour, aroma and texture of the nal product. After cooling and resting for 24 hours, it is then placed in the pots or enclosed in the wafers that come in such creative shapes. This dessert was devised in the Jesus Monastery, reputedly because of the easy access to sugar that, by royal decree, was delivered to the monastery. The recipe was re ned by the Dominican nuns who lived in the monastery, which will always be associated with the presence of Santa Joana Princesa, Patroness of the city of Aveiro. The recipe was later passed from hand to hand, which led to a great spread in its production, culminating in its recognition as a Protected Geographical Indication, on 3 January 2006.
Rebuçados de ovo de Portalegre
Wrapped in silk paper, in keeping with the noble artistic tradition of paper cutting in Portuguese monasteries and convents, Rebuçados de Portalegre are, in their simplest form, a sublime “orb” in our desserts. What creativity must have been possessed by the baker who, from that eggy mixture, was able to create a sweet treat that is impossible to resist? What imagination, to start with eggs, sugar and water and arrive at this sweet “orb”? The monastery kitchens were real laboratories where the availability of sugar allowed for truly prodigious creations. Rebuçados de Portalegre, heirs of the convent tradition of the Santa Clara Convent, are an example of this because of the uniqueness of their presentation and the simplicity of their ingredients. It is the mastery shown by the pastry chef in combining the yolks to the sugar at just the right time that makes all the di erence, as they must not be allowed to curdle. Then it is the way the small, sweet, eggy balls are worked and coated in the syrup that gives them their shiny, glazed appearance. Enriching the tradition of Portuguese desserts, Rebuçados de Portalegre continue to tempt and perhaps the answer to their presentation is discovered each time they are tasted. The beautiful, tiny globe enveloping the sweet egg lling is the perfect size to savour the intense and unique lling and ood your emotions with all the desires, dreams and aspirations of the pastry chef who created it.
Pastéis de Tentúgal
In 1891, the chronicler of the newspaper Coninbricense said of pastéis de Tentúgal, “(…) one must eat them at least once in life,” as if it were a sin to die without trying them. Devised in the Carmo Convent, in Tentúgal, by the professed Carmelite nuns, these pastries stand out for the delicacy, transparency and softness of the layers that surround the egg lling and, even today, they are made in what is almost a ritual dance where pastry chefs defy physics as they make the sheets of pastry y across their hands, as the transparent dough of our and water reaches the “veil” stage. But this cherished dessert is also the starting point for discovering the key gures related to the pastry, the whirl of giving and receiving translated into the many turns of the revolving door of the convent, the many stories, the most moving of which are tales of children and the sweetest of which are the gifts of foods, medicines and alms to the poor and needy. Recognised as a Protected Geographical Indication since 4 September 2013, the Pastel de Tentúgal is an important symbol of a land that knows that simplicity brings with it beauty and preserves the memory of the discovery of the best in each of us. That was, after all, the reason the Pastel de Tentúgal was created, making a gift to pledge thanks with the very best of what one has.
Queijadas de Vila Franca do Campo
Vila Franca do Campo – S. Miguel, Azores – justi es Portugal’s excellent reputation in the eld of desserts with its sweet cheese tartlets. These desserts are descended from the confections developed by the professed nuns of the First Rule of Saint Clare in the Santo André Convent. Only in the mid-20th century, thanks to those who could still recall the tarts’ delicious taste, was it possible to recover this recipe, the intense avour of which lingers as a memory on the palate. We know that a large part of its success depends on the quality of the milk, which, after being curdled, is the main ingredient of the tarts. At a time when sugar was not abundant in the Azores Archipelago, the tarts were sweetened with honey, which along with eggs and wheat our gave the mixture the correct consistency. It is interesting to note that the lling of these tarts is prepared the day before they are baked by mixing the curdled milk with egg yolks, sugar, butter and our, and then placing the mixture over the heat until it comes to the boil. After being cooled, the mixture is then passed through a sieve or ne strainer. Tasting these cheesecakes is a discovery of simplicity, but we know that this discovery is only possible through the perfecting of the recipe, the mastery and dedication with which it is repeated and the quality of the ingredients.
Tigeladas de Abrantes
In the cookbook of Infanta D. Maria (1521-1577), daughter of King Manuel I of Portugal, in the ‘Blancmange’ section, we nd both Milk Tigeladas and D. Isabel de Vilhena’s Milk Tigeladas, an indication of the longevity of the tradition associated with this dessert. There is no argument, however, in respect of the uniqueness of Tigeladas de Abrantes, which show similarity to D. Isabel de Vilhena’s Milk Tigeladas. The recipe is thought to have been developed, re ned and cherished in the Nossa Senhora da Graça Convent by the professed Dominican nuns who lived there until 1891. According to the oral tradition, it is thought that the recipe that has endured until the present day was passed on by a washerwoman who worked at the convent. The name tigelada (lit. bowlful) refers to the red glazed earthenware bowls in which they are cooked. Eggs, sugar, wheat our, lemon and salt are combined into a homogenous paste, then milk is added until all the ingredients are incorporated. Connoisseurs know that a good tigelada depends on the way in which it is cooked, as the red glazed earthenware bowls must be pre-heated before they receive the mixture of ingredients. Because of this, tigeladas reveal an aerated “cell” e ect inside, created by the shock of the change in temperature, with a golden yellow colour on top, toasted in parts. The richness of the texture, enhanced by this aeration, allows us to savour in tigeladas de Abrantes the simplicity of a dessert that has for a long time been a point of reference in traditional Portuguese desserts.
Issue Date: 16.05.2017
Designer: Atelier Design & etc
Illustrator: Paulo Bastos (photos)
Size: 25 x 30 mm
Values: N20g, A20g, E20g, I20g