Portuguese ecstasy of sugar and egg yolk in Madrid
A couple of audacious entrepreneurs have created an embassy of Pão de Ló and other Portuguese cakes in their shop-cafe in the heart of Madrid.
In the Spanish film El alegre divorciado (The happy divorced), actor Paco Martínez Soria, liberated from his supposedly castrating wife, stuffs himself with fried eggs, and suffers a terrible indigestion. We are not sure if this would be the fate of someone who decides to eat a whole Pão de Ló (egg cake) elaborated by the Portuguese confectioner Antonio Oliveira: a sponge cake with a Vulcan of sweet egg yolk inside, a surprising delicacy that melts in your tongue.
How many eggs are used in this recipe? Oliveira keeps the secret about his cake, made in his house in Folgoso (Aveiro), close to Douro River. This sweet contains, apart from egg-white and yolk –in large quantities-, sugar and a bit of wheat flour.
Now it is possible to taste this amazing cake in Madrid, thanks to the initiative of two entrepreneurs, Isabel Ruiz-Morales and Iria Romero. They sell it in La Mejor Tarta de Chocolate del Mundo, their cozy shop and café decorated by Jacobo Gavira and located in Alcalá Street 89.
Pão de Ló has an uncertain origin but has been elaborated for centuries in Portuguese convents, according to these Portuguese desserts ambassadors in Spain. It could be a creation of a Genovese chef who served the Spanish King. There are many versions of this cake, the most famous in the Portuguese regions of Ovar and Alfeizerão.
“According to legend, once the King of Portugal visited a convent. The nun who had to prepare the dessert for such a distinguished guest was very nervous and didn’t calculate well its baking time, so the cake interior remained a bit uncooked”, Iria and Isabel explain. She had unexpectedly improved the formula. Something similar happened to Antonio Oliveira several centuries later: he decided to improve the cake her sister prepared in her restaurant. Today, his pão de ló can be found in respected gastronomy spots around Portugal.
The love affair between Isabel and Iria and Portuguese cakes is not new. Isabel lived in Lisbon, where she discovered there the so-called The best chocolate cake in the world (O Melhor Bolo de Chocolate do Mundo in Portuguese), a dessert created by Carlos Brás Lopes. From his patisserie in Lisbon he had managed to sell his product to many countries, perhaps helped by the strength of the cake’s brand name.
These audacious entrepreneurs convinced him they could be the perfect distributor in Spain of the Bolo several years ago. At the beginning they brought the cakes from Portugal by car and for years they sold them in a very small shop of barely 20 square meters. Now they have a staff of 4 employees and sell more than one thousand cakes monthly. It is really the best chocolate cake in the world? “What I can say –explains Iria Romero– is that it is a very special cake, with and incredible flavour, 100% artisanal, made with high quality products and big amounts of love and patience”.
The Best Chocolate Cake in the World is available in two versions: traditional (53% cocoa) and Bittersweet (70% cocoa). They are flourless, layered chocolate suspiro (meringue cooked at low temperature) and airy chocolate moussed, topped with a thin luscious glaze of ganache. The chocolate used in the cake is the French Varlhona. This singular cake is also sold in Brazil, Australia, Angola, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and United Kingdom.