Tag Archives: Sintra

What are Fofos de Belas?

When in Portugal we are constantly amazed at all of the different pastries that have emerged from a simple combination of eggs, sugar and flour. Every time we visited a bakery there we were pretty sure to find something new. This next, new pastry intrigued us by its name – “Fofos de Belas” -which literally means “Cute things from Belas.” The fofo consists of two small sponge cake layers filled with a pastry cream, and are often served in miniature sizes. They come from Belas, basically a suburb of Lisbon, but we have now seen them in Lisbon itself at the Sacolinha bakery chain. Apparently, the history of the sweets goes back to 1840, when the predecessor to the current Casa dos Fofos de Belas started making them to sell at fairs and pilgrimages around the Lisbon area. If the name seems a little modern, they were originally known as “Fartos de Creme” meaning “stuffed with cream.” The Sintra area is known for its pastries, and has also given the world travesseiros and queijadas. Unlike many Portuguese pastries, fofos are actually pretty simple to make, and if you know how to make a sponge cake, you’re mostly there. I have only found recipes in Portuguese: here from No conforto da minha cozinha and Receitas da Tia Celeste.

Fofo de belas from Casa dos Fofos de belas

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Portuguese Pastry Post-Doc: Travesseiros de Sintra

At first glance, Travesseiros de Sintra, seem to be the sugar coated cousin of pampilhos. The box below has both, so you can see their resemblance. Travesseiro means “pillow” in Portuguese, and I am not quite sure why this confection in particular gained the “pillow” name, though it appears that other renditions have a more rectangular shape. They are a specialty of the town of Sintra, which is perhaps better known for its castles and its queijadas, small cheesecake-like confections. Like the pampilho (and a majority of other Portuguese treats) , the travesseiro is full of egg custard – known as ovos-moles. However instead of cake layer, as in a pampilho, a travesseiro  is composed of puff pastry and covered in crystal sugar. If you are in Sintra, they are a classic of the Piriquita bakery. If you already a pro at ovos-moles – here is a recipe in Portuguese to try.

Pampilho And Travesseiro

A Pampilho de Santarém (top) and Travessiro de Sintra from Corte Ingles, Lisbon.


Filed under Pastry Post-Poc