Carmelite nuns lived most of their days in silence and solitude. The local peasants offered them agricultural products, including numerous eggs. The nuns used the egg whites to starch their clothes and the egg yolks to make desserts.
One day, the nuns received a bag of the finest, whitest wheat flour they had ever seen. They decided to try to make something special with this gift. The flour was combined with water to create a “virgin dough” that was left to rest. The nuns then stretched the dough and let it rest again. To get the most out of the rare flour, they repeated this stretching-resting cycle until the dough was so thin they could read the bible through it.
The dough was cut into rectangles and used to wrap a delicate mixture of egg yolks and sugar. The nuns used a feather to spread some melted butter over the dough and baked the pastries in the oven. Finally, they dusted them with powdered sugar. The result was so extraordinary that a new tradition was born. Whenever the nuns received fine white flour, they made these unique pastries and offered them to the sick and the poor.
When the religious orders were abolished in Portugal in 1834, the Carmelite nuns shared the recipe for this exquisite pastry with the families that gave them shelter. Two Portuguese towns, Tentúgal and Vouzela have competing versions of the original Carmelite recipe. Each town claims their pastry is the best. They are both extraordinary expressions of the silent inspiration of Carmelite nuns.
The pastries produced in Tentúgal are sold in many coffee and pastry shops throughout Portugal. Vouzela pastries are harder to find, they are mostly sold in Viseu and other locations close to Vouzela. They are well worth a special trip.
21 thoughts on “Silent inspiration”
Absolutely fascinating! Thank you
Thanks for visiting our blog!
Ai, ai… 🙂
Não fazia ideia de qual era a história dos pastéis de Tentúgal! Hoje aprendi mais uma coisa, obrigado!! 🙂
Obrigado pela visita ao nosso blog!
Portuguese pastries are the best–even their take on other European classics are amazing. This is a great post!
Thank you so much! It is worthwhile to travel to Portugal just to taste these pastries!
Something I’ve never eaten, though Portugal has a lot of delicious bread and cakes.
Reblogged this on The Portugal Years and commented:
Portugal has many kinds of bread and sweets, but this is one I have never eaten. Love the story that came with the food.
De facto sabem a algo como algo vindo do céu! Agora entendo!
Ambas as receitas são fantásticas. De facto a doçaria Portuguesa é muito especial! 🙂
Amazing! My mother is a Portuguese native and I just read her this blog post and she loved it! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you so much for following our blog. It is a weekly love letter to Portugal.
Yum! I need to get to a Portuguese bakery now!
Reblogged this on Mariposaoro's Blog.
Ambos são excelentes. Pessoalmente, prefiro os pastéis de Vouzela, que têm uma massa bem mais fina. Muitos anos atrás, o meu Pai enviou uma caixa de pastéis a um amigo brasileiro que, na volta do correio, agradeceu enormemente os deliciosos docinhos que “eram uma maravilha! O único senão foi ter que retirar a grande camada de papel que tinham à volta !”.(Pelo menos comeu o doce d´ovo, mas perdeu o melhor do pastel).
Obrigado pela divertida história!
What a beautiful and interesting story! It’s always wonderful to learn about the legends behind dishes we love. The French nuns are supposed to have created the macarons. We so want to try these out now!
You’ll have to come to Portugal to try them they are really very special.