A pastry invented by nuns in the 16th century is now an iconic treat enjoyed all over Portugal.
Pastel de Tentúgal origin story
Like most famous pastries in Portugal, there is a great legend surrounding its invention. So it is with the Pastel de Tentúgal.
Supposedly, in the 16th century, Carmelite nuns in Tentúgal created a delicious pastry filled with egg custard (aka doce de ovos). The custard was wrapped in a paper-thin dough and baked until crispy. The dough was stretched so thin, it is said that the bible could be read through it.
This translucent dough is the key to the Pastel de Tentúgal. Unlike the famous Italian pastry, Sfogliatelle, the dough shouldn’t have sharp edges when you bite into it. Once taken from the oven and topped with powered sugar, the Pastel de Tentúgal dough is so flakey and crispy that the little pieces should melt in your mouth.
The nun’s recipe for Pastel de Tentúgal wasn’t written down. For centuries it was passed down from one generation to another at the convent until 1898 when the last nun died. Then, a local guest house, Dona Maria da Conceição Faria, adapted the recipe, where it was exclusively manufactured and sold for over 50 years.
Where to get Pastel de Tentúgal
Today, the Dona Maria da Conceição Faria guesthouse is long gone. But, it’s easy to find a Pastel de Tentúgal in Portugal. Bakeries all over the country sell them. However, only Pastel de Tentúgal produced in Tentúgal itself are recognized as authentic.
Pastéis Tentúgal Maria Helena Soares has been making a variety of Portuguese sweets since 1974 and are known for their terrific Pastel de Tentúgal.
A 2 minute walk from the center of Tentúgal is A Pousadinha. They are also known for their Pastel de Tentúgal.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides in Portugal to Lisbon, Porto, Monsaraz, and Batalha. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.