It was in my maternal grandmother’s patisserie that I discovered my passion for sweets. Every day hundreds of small cakes were produced, all different varieties and every single one rich with heritage. What a joy it was to see the confection of these delights and sometimes I would also participate by cracking eggs, helping stir the crème patissier, observing the meticulous cake decoration. Of all cakes, I have always been attracted to the simpler ones, the less fancy, the ones that looked slightly odd but which excelled on taste. One of my favourite patisserie cakes of all times is the ‘pastel de feijão – bean cake’. This 19th century cake is traditionally from the ‘Estremadura” region of Portugal, from the city of Torres Vedras. The original recipe is a secret kept within the family that created this cake. Nevertheless, I present you with my own variation which includes red bean instead of white bean puree. Enjoy this delicious cake with a nice espresso or with a fragrant Earl Grey for those who prefer tea.

Pastéis de Feijão – Traditional red bean cakes

For the pastry
200g of plain flour
125g of cold unsalted butter
1 pinch of salt
80ml of luke warm water

For the filling
6 egg yolks
175g of sugar
150g of red bean puree
100g of ground almonds
1tsp of vanilla essence

Pre-heat the oven at 200 ºC.
Prepare the pastry by adding the cold unsalted butter to the flour and the salt. Mix well. Slowly add the water and mix till it resembles a smooth dough. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar till they are pale and fluffy. Add in the Red bean puree (can be achieved by boiling red beans for 45 minutes and then reduced to a puree in a conventional food processor). Mix in the ground almonds and the vanilla essence and fold everything very well.
Grease a 6 muffin tray with butter and dust with flour. Roll out the pastry on a slightly floured clean surface and with a circular pastry cutter, cut circles to fit each compartment of the muffin case. Fill each one with 1.5 tablespoons of the cake mix and bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.