Portugese Cupcakes

Walking around Bangkok today, I felt like a tourist. I was a visitor in my own city exploring the many sites we have to offer. There are so many things yet still to discover and see without having to go out of town.

It’s something Alex and I like to do when the weather isn’t so hot and sunny. It’s our little “adventure.”

Today’s trip involved going to old Portugese settlement area around the Chaophraya river to find that traditional Portugese Cupcake that had been brought to Thailand since the 16th century. They are “Egg” cupcakes with raisins and frosted with sugar.

We hopped on a boat crossing the Chaopraya river and got off at the Wat Kanlaya pier. Apparently the Portugese had been prevalent in Thaland since 1516 when they signed a treaty to supply arms and munitions to the Kingdom. In return, they were also given the right to reside, trade and practice their religion in Thailand. Granted land, the friars built the Santa Cruz church in 1770.

Tucked away in a little road just off the side of the church is a little wooden house with nothing but a little wooden sign to tell us that it sells the famous Portugese Cupcakes which we Thais have made our own. The house is like a hidden secret. If one wasn’t observant, one would have just walked past it.

Upon entering, we were transported back to another time when cakes were made the traditional way. No shiny kitchen with big metal ovens greeted us. Instead, we felt the heat of the coal oven.

Five people worked quietly each at their own task. There was no sound or music to disturb their concentration. Each worked at their own pace. Quietly doing all that was needed. I suspect they are all family.

In a small room, a lady prepared the batter. Another buttered the molds and was in charge of scooping the batter into the molds. Another sat by the oven, putting raisins into the half baked cupcakes whilst another made sure the coal was sufficiently hot. The oldest lady was the packaging department. She sat and packaged the cupcakes. She was also in charge of sales.

In a room just off from the working area, I spotted ancient pictures of past relatives. They must have lived and grown up in this house. How rich in history this area must be, and how much it must have changed over the years. I wish I could see it way back then.

The oven was fascinating. It was a coal oven made simply. It had a little area for the coal at the bottom, places for the cupcakes to be placed. To have the heat from the top, they simply had a steel tray placed over the cupcakes upon which sizzling hot coal was placed. There was no thermometer, no clear window from which we could check to see if it had risen. It all depended upon experience.
Techniques that must have been handed down from generations to generations.

Alex bought six packs of the cupcakes. Little ones and big ones. They were absolutely delicious.

Light, fluffy and melted in your mouth. They apparently sell elsewhere too, but nothing beats seeing how they’re made.
We will go back there again for sure not only for the cupcakes, but for the little journey back in time. The church of Santa Cruz still awaits us. We must see it in action.

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