Well, this is not a very fancy cake. But I would like to share with you a big passion that I have… CONVENTUAL SWEETS. I don´t know if you know what are Conventual sweets (because it´s Portuguese), but in a few words, here it goes:
Centuries ago, convents and monasteries had to be self-sufficient (that included having chickens) and in the Middle Ages Portugal happened to be producing lots and lots of eggs. Why? Because egg-whites were used in the process of clearing wine and to stiffen clothes (like nun’s habits and the ruffles in rich people’s clothes). Remember: there was no ye olde ironing board.
There was a huge amount of leftover yolks. So, nuns and friars thought it was a good idea to use them to make sweets:
■they could sell them and make some extra money;
■they were nice presents for visitors (rich visitors, that is);
■they had easy access to plenty of sugar and spices coming from Asia and Africa because of the Discoveries;
■they added some things they already had, like lemons, almonds and Port;
■apparently it was also a creativity exercise thinking of names for these sweets and that’s why you’ll find names like barrigas de freira (nun’s bellies), toucinho do céu (heaven’s bacon), papos de anjo (angel’s chins) and orelhas de abade (abbot’s ears).
However, in 1820, with the Liberal Revolution in Portugal, religious orders were expelled from the country.
So what happened to all those recipes? Some were sold (like the Pastéis de Belém); some were already well known. How? Rich families would usually send their daughters to convents for education( also keeping them away from men until they married), so they learned the recipes.
CONVENTUAL SWEETS are a passion to me…I love doing them and I love eat them (What is not so good, LOL).
So this is one of those ancient recepies, Conventual Almond Cake with Egg’s Strands that I LOVE!!!
I just give it a modern touch with some daisies…hope you like it!!!
PS: Sorry for the History lesson!
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