Queijadas da Dona Amélia: Is This Azorean Cake Better Than the Pastel de Nata?

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Written by: | Last updated on February 29, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes
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Ah, the pastel de nata! A nibble that has many a foodie swooning in every corner of our dear globe. To dare suggest that there might be a rival to this iconic Portuguese treat surely verges on the blasphemous!

But the pastel de nata isn’t Portugal’s only sweet treat (there are lots of cakes and plenty of deserts). There are hundreds of others. And one of them, the Queijada da Dona Amélia from the Azorean island of Terceira, is definitely worthy of your tastebuds. In fact, it might be one of the best Portuguese foods you try.

On first glance, its appearance is simple enough that it might deceive the uninitiated; a dark corn cake, dusted with a veil of powdered sugar, giving it an almost regal air. Yet, what truly captures the essence of this delightful cake is its aroma—a robust blend of cinnamon and honey cane, reminiscent of the island breezes of Terceira where it was birthed.

This little cake is Portuguese history in a single bite. It’s made with cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, raisins, and other ingredients that the Portuguese explorers picked up on the other side of the world. The Azores, situated in the middle of the Atlantic, were a stopping point for explorers heading to and from the new world, so they often were the first people to experience the treasures coming back from Asia and South America.

Its original moniker, “Indianos” or “Bolo das Índias”, speaks to its global influences, harking back to a time when the Orient beckoned with its exotic spices. However, legend has it that during Queen Amélia’s inaugural royal visit to the Azores in 1901, she was presented with this confection, leading to its present-day namesake.

If you find yourself on Terceira (and you absolutely should!), while you can find this delicacy in almost every café, there’s a spot that offers the crème de la crème of experiences. Make a beeline for pastelaria ‘O Forno‘ nestled in the heart of downtown Angra, a city that enjoys the illustrious title of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You can also find them at Mercearia dos Açores in Lisbon.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.