Lord Stow’s Bakery

Lord Stow’s Bakery

In Macau, everyone has their go-to egg tart shop. When my sweet tooth starts making demands, I head to Coloane to pay homage to Lord Stow!

Coloane Village has a lot to recommend it, but whenever I’m there, enjoying the laid back atmosphere, the flowering bougainvillea and the views from the shoreline, it never takes long before I give in to my true heart and make a beeline straight to Lord Stow’s Bakery for one of the best Portuguese-style egg tarts in Macau.

“A good egg tart should be lightly toasted on the bottom, not burnt,” says Eileen Stow, sister of the late Andrew “Lord” Stow. She turns a tart over and taps the bottom with a finger. “It should be hard, not soft or soggy, and when you tap it, it should sound hollow.”

A quick tap of my own tart confirms that it passes Eileen’s quality control test, and without further delay I sink my teeth into the wickedly rich custard filling and its flaky, buttery pastry shell. The goodness travels in a rush from my mouth to my brain and the sense of satisfaction is immediate and complete.

Eileen describes her brother’s egg tart recipe as a marriage between the traditional Portuguese pasteis de nata and an English custard tart. “The filling is very rich—my brother called it the ‘wibbly wobbly’ filling—and the pastry has just the right thickness to make that perfect delicious balance when you bite in.”

Andrew came to Macau in 1979 to work as a pharmacist and was dubbed “Lord Stow” by the locals because he was English. When he opened his first bakery in the late 1980’s, a modest shop on the village square in sleepy Coloane, he decided to keep the noble title so people would know who was in charge.

Andrew wanted to bring the Portuguese pasteis de nata to Macau but had no recipe. A friend taught him to make the pastry, and he improvised with the filling, combining the best elements of the original Portuguese pasteis de nata with some classic English custard touches. Although Andrew himself referred to the pastries as “Lord Stow’s egg tarts”, the local Chinese christened his creation “Portuguese egg tarts”.

“It was the local Chinese who really took him to their hearts and gave him the fame,” Eileen tells me as I polish off my second tart.

People began arriving from all over to queue up for a box of the legendary tarts. It wasn’t long before Hong Kong and Macau were gripped by egg tart fever, with copycat stores opening on every street corner. Copies do sometimes surpass originals, but not this time. Nobody could quite match Andrew’s ‘secret’ recipe, and Lord Stow’s egg tarts continued to reign as the most popular in Macau.

“When Andrew did his first proposal for the bank, bread was number one on the list. Tarts were fifth,” says Eilleen. “At that time, he thought he might sell fifty boxes of four tarts in a day. Now we sell anywhere between 7,000 and 10,000 tarts daily.”

I ask her what it is that makes Lord Stow’s tarts so good. It can’t just be the recipe, can it?

“The secret is not so much in the recipe these days—I think that secret is out! For us, it’s about perfection, from the very first stage right until the end. I’d rather throw a tray away than sell a bad tart.”

That’s exactly why I keep coming back to Coloane. When it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth, Lord Stow’s is a guaranteed mission accomplished. Of course I always also buy a box or two to go, so that I’ll be able to accomplish more missions when I get home.

 

By Jean Alberti

Photography by David Hartung