Chocolate ‘Pão de Ló’ with peaches and rosemary honey

There is a place in Portugal, north of Lisbon, called Rio Maior. This is supposed to be the capital of this gooey delight. But further north Ovar also has its own special recipe! Basically, the really appreciated version is with a huge amount of egg yolks and a short baking time, so the middle will sink and have an extra gooey centre.

Every region of Portugal takes pride in its own different recipe. This is a very common treat through the holiday season, and the basic staple for making many birthday cakes (without the undercooked centre) because it is simple to make, bake and decorate, usually with a huge amount of egg yolk cream – doce de ovos (sweet egg spread), almonds, fios de ovos (egg threads), gila (squash) or even a few chocolate extras.

So today, why not treat your loved one with this simple yet delicious cake?

▪ 250 grams casted sugar
▪ 6 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
▪ Zest of half an orange
▪ Vanilla extract 
▪ 200 grams all-purpose
self-rising flour
▪ 30 grams cocoa powder
▪ A pinch of salt
▪ Peaches and rosemary honey
to plate

Pre-heat your oven to 165ºC. Start by sifting the flour, cocoa powder and salt. I like to do this twice, but the second time when I incorporate it in with the egg and sugar mix.

Heat some water in a pan on the stove, about 2cm deep. Beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl above the pan with heated water, but don’t let the bowl touch the water otherwise it will cook the eggs. This technique is to help melt the sugar and create successful air incorporation.

Make sure you use a big bowl as the eggs will double in size. When it foams, expands and has no residue of unmelted sugar, remove from the heat and add the flour and cocoa powder.

Again, use a sifter and add a bit at a time while folding gently. This is a patience required process. Do it slowly, and try not to pass through the middle of the bowl with the spatula, as it will burst even more bubbles than necessary.

In the end, I always check if no pockets of flour have remained in the batter and gently blend it with the rest. Bake in a greased and lined cake pan with parchment paper for at least 25 minutes, or until desired consistency (undercooked is a true treat).

For a healthier alternative, remove egg yolks (plus cooking time if you want a gooey centre), reduce a fifth of the sugar and swap cocoa powder for carob flour.

By Megan Melling

Megan Melling’s journey into the food world started in 2011 when she decided to enrol in Cookery and Food Production in Estoril. She was born American, but grew up in the Algarve, so she gets the best of two opposite culinary cultures. She has worked as a cook in Lisbon for the past year and is currently in the process of opening up a gourmet project in Lagos. Check out all of her personal recipes on her blog and facebook page Huum, food for some yummi fotos and food facts. 
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Photo by: Megan Melling