top of page

Make a Treat from the Azores!

Traveleidoscope:  Dona Amelia cakes

Last week, I wrote about 10 Things to Know About the Azores, and one of those things is that there are tons of delicious sweets to try. And, like I mentioned, one of the desserts we tried was called the Dona Amélia cake. When the Portuguese royal family visited the Azores in 1901, the island of Terceira offered up a new cake as a gift to the monarchs, made with local ingredients. Apparently, the queen liked it so much that it became known as the Dona Amélia cake.

I found two recipes, but I only tried the first one - here’s why. Most of the recipes I saw were roughly the same. Typically, Dona Amélias are made with honey or molasse. I saw one with molasses, which I love, so I opted to try that one over the other. FYI - I adjusted the directions on the first recipe just a bit, so the directions you see are largely mine. I didn’t fiddle with the second recipe at all since I didn’t try it. Hope you enjoy!

Traveleidoscope:  Making Dona Amelia cakes

Recipe #1 for Dona Amélias from Azoresgal:


2 1/2 cups sugar

5 whole eggs

5 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups yellow corn flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup melted salted butter

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Powdered sugar - for coating


Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, in no particular order. Grease muffin trays very well. Spoon about 1-2 teaspoons of mix into each muffin indentation, but don't fill it to the top. Pop them into a 400º F oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Once they're done, you can either turn them out, onto a dish cloth that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar and roll them in the towel (if you aren’t using liners), OR, if you’re using liners, turn them out onto a cooling rack and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. This made 6 dozen. We ate 5 dozen immediately.

Traveleidoscope:  Making Dona Amelia cakes

A few things to note:

First, the recipe says to grease the muffin pan. I used a mini muffin pan since the cakes I saw in the Azores were the size of a mini cupcake. I did that, then put mini muffin liners in the pan (I've seen recipes call for greasing the pan then adding liners). The recipe didn’t call for liners, but I used them, again, because the cakes I had in the Azores were baked in them and I thought it might be easier on the clean up. What I should have done was grease the pan and ​ the inside of the muffin liners because the cakes tended to stick to the liner when you unwrap them. Oh well, ya live, ya learn.

Second, the cakes are fairly dense, so don’t expect them to come out all fluffy like cupcakes.

Third, I used the optional raisins, and while they were a delicious addition, they seemed too big for the little cake, if that makes sense. The next time I make these, I may try currants instead, which sort of defeats the “traditionalness” of it all...

Recipe #2 for Dona Amélias from Genius Kitchen:

Traveleidoscope:  Making Dona Amelia Cakes

YIELD: 12 cupcakes


2 cups of white cornflour

1 2⁄3 cups sugar

2 tablespoons honey

10 egg yolks, at room temperature

5 egg whites, beat with blender to form peaks

3 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature

3 tablespoons raisins

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon


Mix all the ingredients together. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour into medium size muffin tins. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on rack, sprinkle cupcake's with powdered sugar.

Fun Fact:

Hey, what’s with all the eggs? I know, that’s what I was thinking, too. Apparently, it’s all got to do with wine. What? Uh, huh. When the Portuguese began exporting their wine, they found that filtered wine was more popular than unfiltered wine. After trying a bunch of different ways to filter wine, they found that using egg whites was the most effective method of doing so. Ok, now what do you do with all the left over yolks once you’ve used the whites to filter the wine? Enter desserts! Yup, the Portuguese came up with endless recipes for goodies using the surplus yolks. Genius! Rumor also has it that nuns used egg yolks to iron their habits (their uh, “uniforms”) to make them stiff ...

Did you try either recipe? Let me know about in the comment section!

Traveleidoscope: Dona Amelia cakes

You Might Also Like:
bottom of page