Now this is an exciting project, one that we have been meaning to start for a long time.
As you may know we have two manufacturing bases for our soaps, one in Devon in the UK and one in Lagares da Beira in Portugal, we use natural Portuguese ingredients such as lovely golden olive oil in our soap and we love everything Portuguese. With this in mind we have been thinking about making soaps that represent one of Portugal's most famous exports - it's beautiful egg puddings and pastries.
The most famous of these is known as Pastéis de Belém or Pastéis de Nata
It is believed that these wonderful little egg pastries were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery of the Santa Maria de Belém parish in Lisbon. During this time large quantities of egg-whites were in demand for starching clothes (such as nuns' habits) and also for cleaning wines, such as Porto, in wineries. This meant that there were a lot of egg yolks left over so many Portuguese monasteries and convents came up with wonderful confections to use left over egg yolks.
This proliferation and adoration of sweet pastry recipes continues today and these sweet little specialty egg pastries are very famous. The recipe for these egg custard pastries is kept a close secret. Pedro Clainha, current owner of the famous shop Aniga Confieitaria de Belém sais "we still use the same recipe, only three people in the world know it" Security is tight and the master bakers make the custard and dough in a locked room.
Pastéis de Nata is the name given to the imitation pastries produced all over the rest of Portugal, they are not always as good but, when you get a good one, they are never to be forgotten. My absolute favorite sweet thing in the world! (Ishbel)
The adoration of the Pastéis de Belém is easy to understand after you have taken a bite. The shell is made from massa folhada, Portugal's equivalent to our puff pastry. It spirals up creating a nest of hundreds of crispy layers. Inside is a luscious, rich, warm custard sometimes with a thin blanket of powdered sugar and a tap of cinnamon on top - absolute heaven.
So, here at Puro love a challenge as you know, we now have lots of Portuguese followers and we thought it would be nice to create a soap that meant something to them, would make them smile and, most importantly would be a lovely, bubbly treat. Here they are, hot off the making bench, soon to be available on our website www.purosoaps.com
We hope you love the look of them too. There is still room for improvement, I think the pastry cases need to be slightly more coloured for that "just out of the oven" look and the toppings could be warmer in colour but they smell really lovely, a fragrant vanilla scent that will make your mouth water and your skin smell warm and delicious.
Let us know what you think and if you are Portuguese we would love suggestions of more Portuguese pastries and puddings that could be created in soap.