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Friday, April 18, 2014

PÃO-DE-LÓ - The Portuguese sponge cake

It is Easter time again and this year I want to present to you a staple Portuguese cake recipe. It is what we call pão-de-ló (bread of Ló) and it is our way to make sponge cake. Why it is called “Ló”, I cannot say with certainty, but is is said because the recipe was invented by a German cook called Lot. In which century I don't know. It's origins though, may be before the 16th century, since it was during this time that the 1st Europeans to visit Japan (Portuguese!) had brought a recipe of this cake with them, called Castile Bread.
In Portugal there are innumerate ways of doing the “pão-de-ló”, all of them in relation to the region they are made and t is very traditional to have it for Passover. The most famous ones are the Pão-de-ló de:
Ovar,
Arouca,
Alfaizerão,
Bispo,
Vizela,
Coimbra,
Beira Alta, and so many more.

Please, google the images; you will drool.

I will give you a very simple form of one, one that you can make at home and please, please, please, follow the recipe attentively or else it will come out as hard as stone, like the one I did last year (I've learned that I'm not smarter then centuries of wisdom!):

4 eggs,
200g of sugar,
100g of flour,
Baking parchment,
Cake pan with a “chimney” in the center.

Beat the eggs with the sugar until you get a foamy and white dough. Rule-of-thumb n.1: the whiter and foamier, the better.
Add the flour through a sieve, slowly and beat it or by hand or with the lowest speed of the whisking machine. Rule-of-thumb n.2: You really want to spend some time doing this. And yes that is the amount of flour.
At this stage you can add some lemon or orange zest, but it isn't necessary.
You will get a somewhat runny consistency of a dough and that you want to add to a cake pan as seen below on the image. You need to add a higher “wall” with baking parchment/paper because the dough will grow in the oven. And this was rule-of-thumb n.3. Don't forget to fatten and flour the trey!
It should come out very airy and light. It may look like the cake is dry, but once you eat it it won't be.

 Cake pan typicall for making Pão-de-ló, with baking paper. Picture taken by me.

 This years pão-de-ló. Didn't came out pretty, but it is soft and moist. Picture taken by me.

HAPPY EASTER!

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