Pastries, cakes and sweets

Pastries (pastéis), buns (bolinhos), rolls (tortas), tarts (tartes) and cakes (bolos) are serious business in Portugal, at their best in confeitarias and casas de chá (tearooms), though you’ll also find them in cafés and pastelarias. There are hundreds of local specialities, in many places known as doces conventuais (“convent desserts”), thanks to the gastronomic inspiration of nuns past.

Some particularly delightful confections include pastéis de nata (custard tarts), queijadas de Sintra (Sintra “cheesecakes”, not that they contain any cheese), palha de ovos (egg pastries) from Abrantes, bolo de anjo (“angel cake”, with a super-sweet fluffy topping), mil-folhas (big light millefeuille pastries nicknamed “Salazar” on account of the late dictator’s puffed up self-importance), bolinhos made with beans (feijão), carrot (cenoura) or pumpkin (chila), bolos de arroz (rice-flour muffins), suspiros (“sighs” – meringues), and a range of almond biscuits and marzipan (bolinhos de maçapão) from the Algarve.

The incredibly sweet egg-based ovos moles wrapped in wafers – most famously from Aveiro – are completely overthe-top, as are pastéis de Tentúgal (millefeuille rolls containing more ovos moles). Equally filling is broa de mel – a heavy but soft bread made from cornflour and honey, found mainly in the north. Broa doce is similar but contains dried fruit.