Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

If you’ve ever been to Portugal you’ll instantly know what these are. They are essentially custard tarts but they are much more than just that – they have a crispy buttery pastry which encases custard which has been infused with cinnamon and lemon.

The first time I was lucky enough to try one was in Lisbon on a trip with some friends. We could actually see them being made while we were enjoying some ourselves. So having tasted them from where they originated, I’d like to think I know when they’re decent or not.

They do take some time and effort to make and they are very technical, so if you’re feeling up to the challenge then go for it. You’ll see pictures of my attempt later in the post and you can tell that my preparation isn’t the neatest or the nicest looking yet they came out so good, trust me.

The method I chose to replicate was from “Binging with Babish” which is a lovely resource. The recipe comes with a YouTube video (link at the end of this post) which lays out what you should do really well. He has a sarcastic tone to his videos which instantly resonated with me and is enjoyable to watch.

Approximately: 40 mins preparation time + 2 hours 50 mins minimum resting time + 12 mins baking time = can be made within 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • Cupcake tin
  • For the pastry
    • 150g Plain flour
    • 1g Salt
    • 80ml Water
    • 113g Unsalted butter
  • For the Custard filling
    • 150g Granulated sugar
    • 75ml Water
    • 1 Cinnamon stick
    • Peel of 1/2 Lemon
    • 40g Plain flour
    • 350ml Milk (whole milk is preferred)
    • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
    • 6 Egg Yolks

Method:

The following steps have been edited directly from bingingwithbabish.com – link at the end of this post.

  • Step 1: Combine 150g plain flour with 1g salt. Whisk together until completely combined and then add 80ml of water.
  • Step 2: Whisk together and then knead until a shaggy, sticky dough has formed and let rest on a well floured surface for 20 minutes underneath a bowl.
  • Step 3: Once the dough has rested for 20 minutes, on a well -floured surface roll the dough out into a 30cm x 30cm square. Spread ⅓ of the unsalted, soft butter over ⅔ of the dough then fold into thirds. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and then roll out into a square and repeating the process one last time before adding the rest of the soft butter to 90% of the surface and leaving 1 inch uncovered.
  • Step 4:Moisten the 1-inch un-buttered area with wet fingers and tightly roll the dough into a log from the opposite end. Roll and press lightly to seal shut and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Step 5: To make the custard, add 150g of granulated sugar, 75ml of water, 1 cinnamon stick, and ½ a peel of a lemon (make sure to wash thoroughly to remove any wax). Bring this mixture to a simmer so that the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, take it off the heat and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Step 6: Into a large bowl combine 40g of all-purpose flour, a third of the 1 ½ cup of whole milk then whisk together thoroughly until thick and no lumps remain.
  • Step 7: Pour the rest of the whole milk into a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just simmering, at which point add the flour and milk mixture. Whisk constantly and cook 1-3 minutes until thick, gooey, and/or creamy.
  • Step 8: Once mixed into a creamy pancake-like batter, kill the heat and add the sugar syrup along with ½ tsp of vanilla powder (or ½ tsp of vanilla extract). Whisk thoroughly to combine until slightly cooled off. Then add 6 large egg yolks and whisk together into a smooth custard. For the sake of smoothness, strain through a fine mesh sieve to catch any errant lumps.
  • Step 9: Retrieve the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, trim off the uneven edges of the dough roll and divide into 12 equally sized pieces. When looked at from the side, the rolls should have a tight buttered swirl.
  • Step 10: Place the dough into the center of the cupcake tin and gently press it down from the center out – first trying to cover the bottom of the tin, followed by the sides. Rinse and repeat until the cupcake tin is full.
  • Step 11: Fill each pastry ¾ of the way full with the custard mixture then place on a preheated baking sheet that has been sitting in a 260°C (or 500°F or Gas mark 10) oven for about 20 minutes. Place the tin and baking sheet combo back into the oven for 12-16 minutes, until the custard is puffed and the pastry is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Notes: This recipe is very technique sensitive, so I would advise watching the youtube link below to get an idea of how to approach the steps in the method.

I was too impatient to wait until the next day to work with the dough and did everything in one day. The results were a lot better than I expected but if you can wait, then keeping the dough refrigerated overnight may be a better move.

Having done the whole process once, its inevitable you will know how to do it better the next time! I made a few mistakes, such as over-caramelising the tops, so keep a close eye whilst baking. I would also make a little more dough so you don’t have to worry about having enough at the end.

You will have a lot of egg whites that will be leftover – no need to waste them! See the link below.

Have a crack at this recipe, it may seem intimidating with all the time and effort needed, but the result will be worth it!

Enjoy!

Rukkiethebaker

Links:

Original recipe: https://www.bingingwithbabish.com/recipes/egg-custard-tarts

Youtube recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2ENkOF3fMQ

Leftover egg whites? – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-ways-leftover-egg-whites-and-yolks

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