Posted in English, Portuguese

Pão de Ló

Today’s post is about Pão de Ló – specifically, Pão de Ló de Ovar, which I recently saw on a list of best cakes from all over the world. Since the cake isn’t very well-known here, I’ll put an English version of the recipe down at the bottom for anyone who wants to try it at home but can’t follow the instructions in portuguese.

Part 1 – My Interest Is Piqued (Thanks to Talures for the corrections)

Segundo um meme que já vi online, um dos melhores bolos de sempre é o pão de ló – especificamente o pão de ló de Ovar. Vi um vídeo dum homem a fazer o bolo e concordo que tem bom aspeto mas usa-se tantas gemas. O que é que fazem com as claras*? Merengues?**

Part 2 – Making It (Thanks to O_pragmatico for the corrections)

Falei há uns dias duma lista de melhores bolos no mundo. Acabo de fazer a minha primeira tentativa de Pão de Ló de Ovar (eu sei, o nome do bolo não leva letras maiúsculas mas este merece).

Liguei o forno um bocadinho quente demais, que fez o topo mais escuro do que o ideal, mas sabe bem.

Segui uma receita da Internet mas quaaaaase fiz alguns erros básicos. Principalmente, li a lista de ingredientes e vi “fermento” mas entendi mal. Ao que parece, fermento é uma coisa e fermento vivo é outra coisa (em inglês, temos palavras distintas para os dois). Estava quase a usar fermento vivo em pó (“dried yeast”) em vez de fermento em pó (baking powder). Felizmente escapei-me daquela asneira! ***

*in the end, I made a massive egg-white omelette

**In the original I write “fazer merengues”, repeating the same verb as in the previous sentence. Why? I think I was mentally translating in my head “What do they DO with the whites? MAKE meringues?” And because both “do” and “make” can be translated as “fazer” I ended up repeating the word in a way that sounds odd in portuguese. It’s a good example of how letting go of translation and embracing thinking-in-portuguese can make all the difference. (Deep philosophical postscript: The fact that fazer is used in both seems to foreclose some possibilities. In English, “what do they do” implies that in addition to making a different dish, they could use it as a glaze. Or compost it. Or flush it down the toilet. Or a host of other things, whereas in portuguese, you can just answer “meringues”, implying that the original meaning of fazer was always “make”. I don’t think that’s really what’s happening though. I could have replied “derrubam-no sobre a cabeça do carteiro” or “fazem merengues”, but because fazer can mean both do and make, we have the option of dispensing with the verb in the answer.)

*** it seems like I’m not the only person who was tripped up by this as you can see from this online shop listing.

Part 3 – The recipe for Pão de Ló de Ovar (in English!)

Heat the oven to 180°C

Grease and line a cake tin – about 22cm diameter

Grab the ingredients

  • 80g of self-raising flour
  • A level teaspoon of baking powder
  • 11 egg yolks. Yes, 11. If you like egg-white omelettes, maybe time it so you have that for lunch on the day you make it!
  • 2 whole eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200g of sugar

Mix the eggs, yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk them with an electric whisk at full speed for a full 15 minutes or until your hand goes numb, whichever is longer.

Mix the flour and baking powder then carefully fold them into the mix using a spatula. Don’t use the mixer for this bit. It’s probably best to add it a bit at a time, otherwise it all sinks to the bottom and it’s hard to retrieve.

Pour the mixture into the tin and out it in the oven for about 35 minutes. It’ll probably need less time if your cake tin is larger than 22cm because the whole thing will be thinner.

Here’s what mine looked like. Nothing like the picture, as you can see. I think I had the oven too high. I always do that; it is my be setting sin. Tastes great though – and I have seen other people’s Pão de Ló looking the same so I’m not ashamed of it or anything!