posted on 03/04/2022 08:00 / updated 03/04/2022 12:04
(credit: Photos: Personal archive)
For Elis Gonçalves, food is synonymous with partying and, consequently, with joy. Among the most remote and pleasant memories, he keeps the meetings of relatives, friends and neighbors around the table. Raised in a simple community in Gama, she remembers that the women of the church got together to cook and her mother, extremely aggregator, always opened the doors to welcome everyone. “Our house was on a corner, without walls. We had a lemon tree and my mother used to prepare juice to distribute to the street sweepers who cleared the grass on the street”, she recalls.
In the backyard, the family had a vegetable garden with a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits. “Despite being poor, our food was very rich”, she emphasizes. And so Elis grew up enchanted with food. “My mother says that, when I was very young, I would sit at the table, cross my legs, put my hand on my chin and watch her prepare meals. She jokes that it was the only time I was quiet”, she laughs.
Despite all the fascination, Elis didn’t cook. And she was never interested in learning. More than that: she used her aversion to the stove as a kind of feminist flag. “I grew up in a family where only women cooked; men only enjoyed themselves. I thought that was absurd. I wanted to study, work, be independent.”
And she did it all. She studied, passed a public contest, achieved the desired stability and, at work, met her husband, Hosea. That’s when everything changed. As her partner — and the men in his family — was in the habit of cooking, Elis began to enjoy going to the kitchen to try recipes. “It was something the two of us did together. It made all the difference,” she justifies.
When she visited her husband’s family in Paraná, 23 years ago, the mother-in-law welcomed the couple with a delicious strawberry pie. “I had never eaten something so delicious. It was made with fresh cream, which I didn’t know about. I was impressed by the light and balanced flavor”, she recalls. Soon Elis tried to ask for the recipe for the pie, which was Hosea’s favorite. She wanted to reproduce at home. But the mother-in-law didn’t. It remained for the servant to try to reproduce it from her gustatory and affective memories.
And so it was doing tests. The sponge cake recipe, for example, she took from childhood memories. “We had a neighbor who made a delicious sponge cake. As she was very fond of me, she always called me when she was going to prepare it and I watched.” By the way, this is the recipe that Elis shares with the column’s readers.
It took four years of testing, hits and misses, until arriving at what Elis classifies as the perfect strawberry pie. “I’d rather not ask my husband not to put him in a tight skirt, but I think my pie tastes better than my mother-in-law’s,” she jokes. And the candy became the server’s trademark. If there was a party at home, it had a prominent place; when she was invited to someone’s house, it was dessert taken; if she needed to gift a friend or relative, it was the right treat. “People asked me to sell them, but I said no, it was just for gifts.”
starting a business
For those who had no skill with pans, Elis became a full-time baker, especially after becoming a mother. Yara Flor’s birthday parties were all prepared by the server. “I once took a weekend course to learn how to prepare cupcakes for one of these little parties. I modeled 400 animal cupcakes”, she says, laughing.
On another occasion, when he learned that a friend was going to get married, he decided to present her with the sweets of the ceremony, even without knowing how to make them. “My husband said I was crazy.” But, once again, Elis went there, took a one-week course and made 2,000 fine sweets. “I’ve always been very curious.”
Three years ago, when the partner had a health problem and had to retire, the family’s income dropped. Even more: the husband was sad to suddenly leave an active life to stay at home. That’s where the woman’s idea came from: earning extra money and occupying herself with what she knew how to do best, strawberry pies. “Hosea said that we needed to plan, that we needed initial capital… And I just replied: ‘Run the car to Taguacenter, and we’ll start the business now’.”
Elis bought five molds of varying sizes, prepared her famous pies and invited a nephew to take the photos. “One pie I cut and another I gave as payment to the photographer. There were three left, which I announced on WhatsApp from the condominium where I live. I posted the photos and then sold the three.” Thus began a successful business.
The server never stopped making pies. “At Christmas 2019, I received 70 orders. And it had only been four months since I started selling. I have orders every day of the week. My sister even jokes about who eats pie on a Monday”, he laughs. Most of the production is sold in the condominium where she lives, in Jardim Botânico, but, with the partnership of three delivery men, Elis sends her sweets all over the Federal District. “I have clients in Águas Claras, Lago Sul, Southwest, Northwest…”, she tells her. The main channel of dissemination is the Instagram page she created: @torta_de_morango_da_elis.
During social isolation because of the pandemic, he saw not only the demand increase but the need to make smaller pies. Today it has different sizes – from baby, which serves eight to 10 slices, to giant, with 35 pieces. Elis always asks that orders be placed at least 24 hours in advance, but, almost always, she has one or another unit for immediate delivery.
The secret to perfection, believes the baker, is, in the crispy sigh, the fresh cream beaten at the right point, the fluffy sponge cake and, of course, lots of strawberry. “I love strawberry. And for me, if the dessert is made from strawberry, it needs to be present in abundance.” The pie is purposely high and should be consumed immediately. “That’s not a problem, as I challenge people to eat just one piece. It’s impossible,” she jokes.
Elis does not intend to expand the business or make other flavors. “People even ask me to add chocolate, coconut … or create other flavors. But I want to stay focused,” she says. For her, the most important thing is to give the people who taste her pie all the affection and love put into each slice. “My greatest joy is receiving feedback from customers, hearing from them that my pie has awakened affective memories. I want to help create those memories.” Ingredients
6 medium eggs
1 cup of wheat flour
1 cup of refined sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 pinch of salt
Way of doing
Beat the eggs with the sugar until it forms a fluffy cream. Gradually add the flour along with the
yeast and finally salt.
Tips for a perfect dough
Eggs always at room temperature.
Sift the flour all the time so that the air leaves the dough fluffy.
Always use refined sugar.
Oven at 180 degrees from start to finish.
To grease the pan perfectly, add butter and oil. So you won’t need the flour.
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