Portugal: The art of baking at Bekarei

Planet Berlin: Cross-cultural baking

From bar to bakery

Paula Gouveia, teacher, and George Andradis, a 3D director, came to Berlin in the 1990s. They met by chance on a city street: They were almost neighbors and even had the same friends. Together, they opened a bar in 2000, "Eka", then the "Bekarei" in 2006. Today, they have more than 40 employees across three bakeries and cafes.

Planet Berlin: Cross-cultural baking

Portuguese doughnut

Although the "Bolo de Berlim" was not invented by Bekarei's owners, the bakery has perfected the traditional Portuguese custard doughnut dusted in sugar — indeed Germany has its version that was birthed in the capital, the "Berliner Pfannkuchen." "It is part of the food culture in central and northern Portugal and is often sold on the beach," explains Paula Gouveia of the Portuguese variant.

Planet Berlin: Cross-cultural baking

Back in the GDR

Bekarei not only combines Portuguese and Greek baking traditions. It is also reminiscent of East Berlin before the Wall fell: The huge bakery counter, the prominent retro clock of the back wall, wood paneling and brown tile floor is a classic GDR interior that takes visitors back in time.

Planet Berlin: Cross-cultural baking

Global range

The sales staff and bakers come from all over the world: Israel, Jordan, Russia, Italy, Tunisia and Romania. This is also reflected in the range, which is no longer limited to Portuguese and Greek baked goods. Today, Bekarei also serves up New York cheesecakes, pretzels, cupcakes (pictured), focaccias or brownies.

The Portuguese-Greek Café in Prenzlauer Berg conveys a universal sense of belonging. The retro GDR interior dates back to the 1970s, and the baked goods are made by hand on the premises in authentic south European style.

There's only one bakery in Berlin that combines Eastern German chic with Portuguese tarts and savory Greek pastries, and that's the Bekarei in Prenzlauer Berg. The geometric ceiling art, hanging lamps and massive baker's counter have been there since before the Reunification. For the past thirteen years, Portuguese native Paula Gouveia and Greek national George Andradis have been offering up a mix of German and Southern European baked treats: rustico and Mafra breads, lemon meringue tarts, and Pão de Deus are hand-baked fresh every day.

The bakery's Pastel de Nata, the traditional flaky Portuguese tarts with a vanilla creme filling are widely recognized to be the city's very best. Named after the pair's previous project, the EKA Bar, the Bekarei has been a hub for tourists, creatives, and families since 2006. "It all started with our homemade cinnamon rolls," recall the pair.

At the beginning they both worked around the clock: Paula Gouveia greeted the customers while her husband gathered family recipes from Portugal and Greece, learning to bake them on his own. All that hard work paid off. Today the couple run both the Bekarei and a second shop in Kreuzberg, while selling their Beka-Buns to a Berlin burger restaurant on the side.

Portugal: Bekarei - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

Retro charm

When former teacher Paula Gouveia first moved to Berlin in 1997, the streets of Prenzlauer Berg weren't crammed with the kinds of charming cafés that characterize them today. "When I came to Germany, you couldn't even get an espresso," she laughs. "Luckily it's not like that anymore." She soon found that she enjoyed working in restaurants.

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Paula Gouveia had always been fond of the bakery with the old-fashioned furniture on Dunkerstrasse in the popular Helmholzkiez district. Back then she told her husband: "When this place goes up for sale, we have to buy it." And then it happened; the store went on the market, and, following the birth of their son, the pair opened it back up as the Bekarei. Paula Gouveia loves talking to her many regular guests, and although the pair now have quite a few employees, she still likes to take her place behind the counter on weekends.

Author: Anima Müller

BEKAREI
Dunckerstr. 23
10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg

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