These Portuguese custard tarts are facsimiles of the true pastéis de Belém pastries from the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, where they churn out more than 22,000 pastries each day. When you make that many a day, you get damn good at it. There are all kinds of reasons why the original pastéis de nata from this pastry shop are so freaking good. Secret recipes, teams of folks who do nothing but make the pastry dough or whip up the filling, ovens that blast at 800°F.
n order to translate the pastéis to the home kitchen and to ovens that that hit 500°F if you’re lucky, these pastéis are smaller than the original. and the tops may not brown quite as much as the authentic pastéis in the picture, which are from the confeitaria. Still, that hasn’t stopped the flood of rave reviews below. The secrets to making spectacular authentic Portuguese custard tarts at home are few and simple.
When making the pastry, make sure the butter is evenly layered, all excess flour is removed, and the dough is rolled very thin and folded neatly. As for the custard, you’ll need a thermometer to accurately gauge the custard. These are best eaten warm the day they’re made.
- 1 whole egg (large)
- 2 egg yolks (large)
- 115g golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 400ml full fat (creamy) milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
- STEP 1 Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin and pre-heat oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6
- STEP 2 Put egg, yolks, sugar & cornflour in a pan and mix well together then gradually add the milk until mixture is well mixed and smooth.
- STEP 3 Place pan on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
- STEP 4 Put custard in a glass/ceramic bowl to cool and cover with cling film to prevent skin forming.
- STEP 5 Cust pastry sheet into two pieces and place them on top of each other. Roll the pastry tightly, from the short side, into a log and cut the log into 12 even sized rounds.
- STEP 6 On a lightly floured board, roll each round into a disc (approx. 10cm) and press the pastry discs into the muffin tin.
- STEP 7 Spoon in the cooled custard and bake for 20-25mins until golden on top. Leave to cool in the tin for 5mins then move to a cooling rack to finish cooling although they can be eaten warm.