Top Eats - Get fit on your bike trip in Iberia but don't pass these blessed Convent Desserts up!

Do not pass up any of these heavenly Convent delights on your next bike tour in Spain or Portugal, it would be a sin!

Cycling in Andalucia, try Convent baking

Take a break on your Spanish bike trip and pop into a local coffee shop. Upon ordering a café con leche in Andalusia you will be assured of receiving a little pillow of a sugar packet, which rests demurely next to your cup awaiting and which to the average consumer seems larger than the recommended EU Standard teaspoon size. However, this is Southern Spain, and the 800 years of Moorish history, endowed the culture here with a sweet tooth that you would think should be a sin to indulge considering how decadent the tasting experience is.

Alhama.com 's photo of the local nuns in the Convent San Diego

The Best Baking Recipes by Spanish & Portuguese Nuns

Paradoxically, and knowing the history of the Reconquest and Inquisition, the best of these desserts come surprisingly from the strict confines of the Roman Catholic convents where the sedate sisters have perfected the art of temptation with their sticky confections of honey and almond alfajores and rich flan desserts.  So, when I spotted the little elderly nun in monochromatic robes and small-pillared hat methodically filling her shopping basket and moving slowly around the local supermarket’s baking ingredients, I loitered close by hoping to gather some ancient secrets. 

Convent Desserts in Iberia use Eggs

Try delicious food in Portugal .

The Convents of Iberia have prepared their cookies and treats for centuries and they are still products that help keep the coffers a little bit fuller and a mainstay of dessert tables in both Spain and Portugal.  Starting at a time when families were expected to send at least 1 female member of their household to the sisterhood, imbued the convents with women of high social standing, who had finer tastes as well. Helping develop this cooking hobby, were rich estates who would send provisions “dowries” for their female children, and chickens, which equalled eggs, a relatively cheap source of protein in the diet, were always welcomed.  It was at a time when egg whites were used in everything from starching clothes, painting frescos to making wine and thus, a great glut of yolks!  And let us be honest, some of these recipes use a tsunami of yolks, and stories abound about cakes that use 60 of these little golden orbs!
Cycling in Andalucia, visit a convent to buy sweets

Bike Tour in Andalucia is no excuse not to try Convent DulcesAll around Spain and Portugal, you will get a chance to taste these kitchen creations, though you may not see the creators if they are living cloistered, as often the lazy susan swing doorway where you put your change in to receive these little delicacies, give you no hint to who reside behind.

 Visiting Seville on your cycle trip, try Convent Desserts

One of the notable places, where people can try out this custom (though, do note, generally hours are hit or miss and never on a Sunday of course! – Look for the sign of “Dulces / Doces” or Torno”) is upon arrival in sensational Sevilla, a heartland of religious tradition (you just have to experience their Easter Week, Semana Santa celebrations to attest this).  The city has many convents very central who still produce some very lovely dishes and rely on this extra bit of money to keep them going.  Get on your bike and you can actually do a Convent Dulce crawl to try them all!  And it is worth it.

Biking in Spain, you must try Convent bakingIf sugar is not your thing, well then give up right now, as eggs and sugar are the base ingredients of about 99% of these treats.  The Portuguese base of these desserts is a creamy sauce of egg yolks and sugar, ovos moles, used as a delectable filling for tarts, pies and marzipan pleasures.  Their Fios de ovos, made by dripping sweetened egg yolks through a sieve into boiling sugar is another ingredient used as toppings on many of these yummy eats and hard to avoid.

The repertoire of sweet products by both countries include confitures, Alfajores Mozárabes, (Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus), Quince Jam and the most delicious Tocino de Cielo or in Portugal, toucinho do céu.  This roughly translates as Bacon from Heaven, sounds dodgy but I promise you this caramelized egg yolk and sugar delight is a very rich dessert indeed.  In fact, many of these delights have celestial names such as Angel’s Cheeks or Nun’s Bellies.

Wherever you venture, you must experience this.  It may be a fading tradition as those going into the sister hood are becoming scarce, and you may find the offerings even too sweet & cloying, but this is a custom, almost ritual, that the Spanish and Portuguese, still very much embrace, and so, be brave, fumble through your Portuguese or Spanish, go and get some nun’s buns (too racy?), the sin of gluttony will be forgiven.

Portuguese Egg Tarts, a treat from the monasteries 
Bike Tours in Spain & Portugal
All our Spanish or Portuguese bike trips go through towns or cities, where you can have this religious experience.
Notably our Self Guided Moorish Andalucia, Blue Coasts, or White Villages of Andalucia, all pass through towns, where you can visit Convents, as do our Guided Bike Tours in Spain Coastal Camino & Enchanted Andalucia, or Portugal’s Amazing Alentejo

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