Confectionery is part of Portuguese culture and sees one of its high points during the Christmas period. This Christmas, ECO123 invited the people who run two of the best confectionery businesses in the Algarve to share some sugary recipes with you with the typical flavour of the Algarve.
Located in the centre of Portimão, the Casa da Isabel is a return to the past of our dreams: that time when, in an old but welcoming house, there is always a magnificent sweet treat awaiting us, a cup of tea to warm us up, a traditional product from an Algarve that fortunately still exists. Gentle background music is conducive to a conversation between forkfuls of one of the many cakes, Swiss rolls or puddings on offer. At this tea room, almost all the recipes are traditional, the result of thorough research by the owner Isabel Ramos – some of them completely forgotten in other places. But there are also delicious novelties such as the Algarve Trilogy, which we recommend.
Almond, fig and carob cake
250 g peeled almonds
250 g figs
500 g sugar
7 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of carob
Sugar and powdered carob
Put the eggs and the egg yolks in a bowl. Beat with the sugar to make a soft mixture. Chop the peeled almonds and the figs in a food processor. Add to the mixture together with the grated lemon rind. Mix together very well and pour into a tin greased with butter and with greaseproof paper lining the bottom. Bake in a medium oven. Once removed from the tin, sprinkle with the sugar and the powdered carob.
Serve with a lemon balm or peppermint tea.
To while away a few enjoyable moments, we go to the tea room that offers us a wide range of teas with the flavours of regional herbs. We drink a house tea made with lemon verbena, camomile, pennyroyal and sage. At the Quinta dos Avós in Algoz, Dona Maria da Encarnação Gonçalves runs a conventual confectioners where you can enjoy her delicious carob, almond and fig cakes and tarts – all of which she makes herself. We buy sweet treats and jam, liqueurs and wines for our friends. Since 2007, Dona Maria and the Quinta dos Avós have been members of the confraternity of gastronomes of the Algarve, who keep alive the culture and the original flavour of the Algarve’s gastronomy.
Winter or Christmas cake
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 cup of oil
2 cups of flour
1 cup of dried fruits (walnuts, almonds, figs)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
(the cups should be big)
Mix together the eggs, sugar, milk, oil and flour. Beat everything together. Pour into a buttered tin. Dip the dried fruits in flour so that they don’t sink to the bottom, and add to the previous mixture which should be baked in the over at 160o for approximately one hour.
When ready, decorate as you wish, with slivers of almond, egg threads, walnuts and figs. The icing sugar makes it look Christmassy.