Portuguese Mini Lemon-Orange Cakes

Portuguese Mini Lemon-Orange Cakes

Queques are small cakes that can be flavored with most anything: vanilla, lemon, orange — even savory bits such as chicken, chouriço, or presunto. I’ve never been a big fan of them; I find them either a bit dry, too firm, or overly sweet. But on one visit to Portugal, I stayed at a small hotel in the walled town of Évora, where citrusy queques were served as part of breakfast. What a revelation. They were buttery, with soft insides and crispy edges. I asked the chef for the recipe, which he was happy to oblige. But it soon became clear that some recipes don’t always translate. Determined, I made batch after batch after batch until I approximated what he serves his justly fawning clientele.–David Leite


These cakes should be eaten warm from the oven. Even though they’re perfect for dunking — especially in tea — they can lose some of their appeal overnight. Refresh them in a warm oven for 10 minutes.

Portuguese Mini Lemon-Orange Cakes

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 15 M
  • 45 M
  • Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch cakes
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Position the rack in the middle of the oven and crank the heat to 400°F (200°C). Brush two 12-well mini-muffin tins (1 3/4-by-7/8-inch) with butter. Set aside.

Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from the stove and let the mixture cool until warm.

In a large bowl, rub the lemon and orange zests into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Dump in the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.

Stir the egg, yolk, and vanilla into the warm milk mixture and then pour it into the flour mixture in several additions, stirring gently until the ingredients are just incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, three-quarters full. Bake until the cakes are well-risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a rack, cool for 5 minutes, and then pop out the cakes. Serve warm piled high in a napkin-lined basket.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

One word: yummy! I love citrus, and this recipe didn’t disappoint. These cakes were quick and easy, and didn’t call for any unusual ingredients or require any special equipment. I used one of my 24 cup mini-muffin tins and my #70 cookie scoop to fill the cups. I slightly mounded the dough and it was the perfect amount to fill my pan. My cakes were done at 18 minutes, and after cooling for 5 minutes, they came right out of the pan. The crunchy edges and light but distinct citrus flavor was just right. I’ll be making this recipe again.


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  1. Does this recipe work if you make the batter the night before & refrigerate it?
    Thanks for all your wonderful recipes, David (and the great commentary to go along with!).

    1. Hey, Trisha. I’ve never done that, but I don’t think so. The chemical action of the leavening will happen in the fridge, not the oven, so it won’t rise properly.

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