You think you have had the best Portuguese Egg Tarts in Malacca, Singapore or Macau. I thought so too and was puzzled why an ex-colleague from Portugal abhorred the fact they way called Portuguese Egg Tarts here in Singapore. I have never tasted anything like what I had in Lisbon during a trip with Insight Vacations in November 2014. The custards taste somewhat similar to what we get in Singapore but the big difference was in the crust. When served hot, the many layers of thin crispy crust gave texture to the warm soft egg custard held by the outer crust.
was once a sugar cane refinery turned pastry bakery. Some 150 employees bake warm egg custards with a crusted filo sort of outer shell since 1837. Today, 20,000 egg tarts are sold on the weekdays while we understand 50,000 are served during the weekends. When we stepped into the cafe, it was crowded with people from all parts of the world. In fact, I could also hear the familiar Asian accents of people from the Far East.
Insight Vacations planned this “Signature” moment for us to get a behind-the-scenes tour to see how these heavenly egg tarts were created.
While the rest of the patrons were queuing for their pastries or having their fill, we were escorted into the kitchen for a tour with Francisco.
The secret recipe is apparently known to an inner circle of three. Originally created by monks from Mosteiro dos Jerónimosis or the Heironymite Monastery that was next to the sugar cane refinery. In 1834, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down because of the liberal revolution of 1820. In order to survive, someone from the monastery sold these pastries.
The private tour would not get you the recipe of the tarts but you get to see the ladies meticulously kneading the crust dough and machine filling them with the custard before they are baked and subsequently served and sold at the cafe outside.
What seems small from the outside transforms into a huge expansive space that can house many people and groups. The folks at Insight Vacations had already pre-arranged an area for the 30 of us in the group. I savoured two of the egg tarts and had a cup of cappuccino to wash down the delightful sweetness. The whole experience took around one hour.
Visit www.insightvacations.com or call Insight Vacations at +6569225950 or email [email protected] for more information about Insight Vacations Iberian itineraries. You get to experience this in the 11-day Country Roads of Portugal, 10 days Amazing Spain and Portugal or 16-day Best of Spain and Portugal escorted tours.
Prior to my Iberian adventure, Insight Vacations sent me the Pastéis de Nata or Portuguese Custard Tarts recipe. I got together with Irene from Moonberry.com (just because she bakes) to give the recipe a try and we managed to come up with something in slightly under an hour. It definitely did not taste anything close to what was served at Pastéis de Belém.
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