From Alentejo, with love (II)

In the last post I talked about how there are so many traditional Portuguese baking products using only a handful of ingredients. Today I’ll focus on one particular ingredient which is so simple and yet so versatile.
Enter “requeijão“, a by-product of cheese making. “Requeijão” is similar to cottage cheese or a mild ricotta and you can find it in several parts of the country, although with slightly different characteristics from one region to the other.
Sometimes you’ll find it on the dessert menu, traditionally served with pumpkin jam and a bit of cinnamon (just because we, Portuguese, love cinnamon with everything!). Some other times you can eat cakes and pies made with “requeijão”.
The gorgeous tanned little cake on the first photo is a traditional “queijada de requeijão” from Alentejo. “Queijada” can be loosely translated to cheesecake, because it is a cake and it’s made with cheese, but has nothing to do with the common modern cheesecakes. It’s delicious and it’s shaped like a tiny star – what’s not to like about it?
Next we have a few old family recipes* (not mine) but which are completely along the lines of traditional Portuguese baking.

These cute buns could be on my breakfast table every morning. They’re not very sweet but they’re dense and, of course, they are made with “requeijão”. Add a knob of butter and they’re heaven!

On the photo above we have, in the front row, a pie with (you guessed it) “requeijão. It’s soft and somewhat delicate, kind of like middle class in the baking hierarchy: sweeter than most traditional cakes but not on the conventual level.
On the left, in the back row, there’s a slice of walnut and honey cake. Sweet like a grandmother, it has both honey and yellow sugar in it. On the right, a slice of bread dough cake. This used to be made once a week, when baking bread for the family and it’s flavoured with cinnamon (I did say we love cinnamon!).
On the next post we’ll have a very special guest from the Alentejo (a true celebrity of the region, actually)! 😉


*I’d like to thank Cristina Silva, of Pão, Café & Companhia for helping this blog post come to life by staying true to the original recipes, by having provided me with so many delicious products and for her infinite patience in answering my questions.

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