So when I was in Portugal, I was interested to go to the bakery where these egg tarts originated.
The tarts originated from Belem which is just outside Lisbon. The Belem egg tart shop is near the Jerónimos Monastery and was established in 1837.
The Portuguese egg tart, Pastel de nata, Pastéis de nata (plural) were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery. During that time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, in particular the nuns' habits. So the monks and nuns started using the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.
Nowadays there is always a queue to get into the Belem shop. There is a dine in cafe as well as a take away counter -
I bought 2, you sprinkle icing sugar and cinnamon on top, and should eat them warm -
During my stay in Portugal, small egg tarts were sometimes available in the bakery section at the hotel breakfast.
Pastelaria or bakery shops are everywhere, either as cafes or just take away shops. I tried a few during my stay. Quite often for lunch I would just have a cake and coffee.
This was a crispy pastry case filled with a sweet custard -
This one was really nice, a filo pastry with a sweet filling -
I also had a couple of 'cream slices' without the cream. They are flatter but much wider than the English cream slices -
I saw these meringues in a shop in Coimbra, Pastelaria Briosa. They were huge, the size of a tea plate, pity the photo doesn't really show the size -
They are described by travellers on Trip Advisor as the world's biggest meringues. They would feed a whole family!
Another Portuguese cake is the pao de lo or sponge cake. Interestingly, in Malaysia (& Chinese countries) a pao is a steamed dumpling (sweet or savoury). I only tried this in the hotel buffet -