The importance of bread in the human diet is well known, especially in the interior regions where sustenance is generally based on products obtained from the earth. (…)

(…) As a result of this primordial role, Vila Real has a large number of mills along the waterways, to grind cereal and obtain flour to make bread.

Given the importance of bread, it is not surprising that the millers and bakers (mostly women) held a high position in the economic, and therefore social, fabric of Vila Real. (…)

(…) Many people engaged in this activity, among them the so-called kneaders, whose job it was to knead the bread, many of whom rendered service in more than one bakery.

One of these kneaders was a lady known as VICÊNCIA AUGUSTA CRAMEZ, whose children included, among others, the painter HEITOR CRAMEZ (1889-1967) and MIQUELINA DO CARMO CRAMEZ (1883-1958).

Miguelina remarried a widow named FRANCISCO DELFIM (1871-1947), a painter in the construction trade. Francisco Delfim was given the nickname LAPÃO as a child by his aunt Filomena, who was also his guardian. The nickname came from the fact that Francisco Delfim had physical characteristics (prominent cheekbones, a short, concave nose, short stature) which made him resemble the natives of Lapland. (…)

(…) Francisco Delfim decided (a bit strangely, since he was already successful in his field) (…) to use his savings to open a bakery, using his nickname, at the Rua da Misericórdia (currently Casa Lapão).

His decision was also probably influenced by the fact that we were then in the middle of the First World War, when bread making seemed likely to be profitable. This bakery operated regularly until almost the end of the 30s in the 20th Century. (…)

(…) As it happened, the home of Miquelina and Francisco was occasionally frequented by a seamstress, Delfina, who had a sister in the Santa Clara Convent. Although closed since 1855, the convent still held the secrets of the sweets that had been made there for centuries.

This lady gave them the recipes for these sweets – Pastéis de Toucinho (Cristas de Galo) (a pastry in the shape of a cockscomb filled with a mixture of eggs and almonds), Pastéis de Santa Clara (pastries made with eggs, almonds and cinnamon), Tigelinhas de Laranja (made with egg yolks and orange) and other sweets covered with the unleavened dough used for communion wafers.

This motivated Miquelina Cramez to make these specialities, to which she added the Bola de Carne (a cake filled with various types of meat), the Covilhetes (a round phyllo dough pastry filled with minced veal), the Pitos (pastry pockets filled with pumpkin jam and cinnamon which a young lady traditionally gave her suitor on the feast of St. Lucy), the Santórios (rich in eggs, butter and sugar) and, at certain times of the year, the Cavacórios (a concave, sugar-covered delight), and the Ganchas (a sweet made of caramelised sugar which traditionally a young man offered to the young lady he liked on the feast of St. Blaise). (…)

(…) (…) She was later joined in making these convent sweets recipes by her daughter-in-law ALZIRA MARTINS CRAMEZ (1910-1993), married to her son ANTÓNIO DELFIM CRAMEZ (1912-1956), who, upon the death of her mother-in-law at the end of the 50s, and after a brief pause, continued making convent sweets, alone and in her own home, so that the secret of the sweets would not be lost forever. (…)

Alzira Cramez, faced with age and some health problems, including rheumatism, began to have difficulties carrying out her task, and was helped by her son ARTUR ANTÓNIO MARTINS CRAMEZ (n.1939), who is now in charge of CASA LAPÃO, and is the great motivator and driving force of the company he heads. (…)

(…) Artur, a chemical analyst (Vicominas-Marão), realised that his mother’s business was profitable and asked her to give him part of her clientèle, thus “secretly” getting his foot in the door of the field, seduced by the alchemy of the sweets with the temperatures of the kitchen ovens. (…)

(…) It was located for 10 years (1980), in the area where the Lapão Bakery operated, and where today the factory is located, in front of the Loja Casa Lapão. (…)

On 13 December (the feast of St. Lucy) 1990, using as a pretext the Pitos which are one of their specialities they make, they opened CASA LAPÃO, where two daughters, ÁLEA ZITA and ROSA MARIA, work alongside their father to guarantee the continuity of a company with such a great tradition in Convent Sweets.


Adapted of Neves, Elísio Amaral e Cabral, A.M.Pires,
Vila Real – História ao Café”
Grémio Literário Vila-Realense/CMVR, 07/2008