The village of Alfeizerão, near Nazaré, is famous for its sponge cake. The original recipe came from the Spanish kingdom of Castile, so the cake used to be called Pão de Castela (bread from Castile). When the Portuguese started trading with Japan, in the 16th century, they introduced it to the residents of the port of Nagasaki. The cake remains popular in Japan, where it is called Castella or Kasutera. In Portugal, the name of the cake changed in the 19th century to Pão de Ló, probably after a cook nicknamed Ló.
Pão de Ló is usually a dry cake, but the nuns of Alcobaça’s Cister Order developed a version that is wonderfully soft and moist. When the religious orders were abolished in the 19th century, the nuns gave their recipe to a family from Alfeizeirão that offered them shelter. Five generations later, the same family still uses this recipe to make Pão de Ló at Casa Ferreira in Alfeizerão.
During a recent visit, we asked our server at Casa Ferreira what makes their cake so special. She answered without hesitation: “we make Pão de Ló the way the angels like it.” We could not confirm the veracity of this claim but, after trying the cake, it struck us as completely plausible.
Casa Ferreira, Rua 25 de Abril, 215, Alfeizerão, tel. 262 990 719.
3 thoughts on “How the angels like it”
My good japanese friends (family name of Nagasaki) once brought us from Japan as a gift a Portuguese cake which they call “Castela”. I thought the all story was very weird, but politely thank them and enjoyed the cake that had some similarities to Pao de Ló. Now, it all makes sense!!
Thank you Salt of Portugal!!
You are very welcome 🙂