Bring the taste of Portugal into your kitchen with this recipe for a Portuguese tart. These traditional crisp puff pastry tarts filled with a thick, baked custard centre can be found in pastelarias all over Portugal.
If there is one recipe that is synonymous with Portugal, it is the Portuguese tart, known locally as Pastel de nata. Similar to the anglicised Egg Custard, these treats consist of a crispy puff pastry shell with a creamy custard filling and sprinkled with nutmeg. It’s then baked until the pastry is golden and a caramelised skin forms on the custard. These ones are sweet, crispy, and so moreish!
The Pastel de nata is an imitation of the original Pastel de Belém. This pastry was created by catholic monks in 1837 at a monastery in Belém, Lisbon. 180 years ago, monasteries used egg whites to starch clothes, such as the nuns’ habits. Leftover egg yolks were therefore used up in cakes and pastries. Along with the popular Pastel de Belém, other sweet, egg yolk based treats can be found across the country, such as Dom Rodrigo (stringed egg yolk cooked in a sugar syrup.)
The monks’ recipe for Pastel de Belém is a closely guarded secret, known only by confectioners at the Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém. The tarts produced there follow the original secret recipe. After the Pastel de Belém name was trademarked, it meant only those produced following the recipe could be called such and other similar pastry creations had to be renamed. Hence, the Pastel de nata.
Their popularity nowadays means that in Lisbon, tourists and locals alike queue up at bakeries and pastry shops for these delicious treats. They are available to purchase all over Portugal, and further afield in places such as Brazil and Cape Verde (as well as Nandos over here in good old Blightly.)
If you can’t get your hands on one right now, this recipe is a good substitute. Whist this imitation might come close, it doesn’t quite beat the authentic treats, fresh from a Portuguese pastelaria and enjoyed on a sandy beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
(Lucky for me, then, that I’m currently doing just that. See you when I get home.)
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Bring the taste of Portugal into your kitchen with this recipe for Portuguese tarts. These traditional crisp puff pastry tarts filled with a thick, baked custard centre can be found in pastelarias all over Portugal.
- 1 whole egg, large
- 1 egg yolk
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1tbsp cornflour
- 60g golden caster sugar
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
- Ground nutmeg
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c/400°f/gas mark 6. Lightly grease a 12-hole shallow bun tin.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, cornflour, and sugar.
- Heat the mixture in a pan over a medium heat and slowly pour in the milk. Continue whisking until the mixture starts to bubble, then allow to boil for 1-2 minutes to thicken the custard. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug, then cover with clingfilm to stop a skin from forming on top of the custard.
- Unroll the pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface, then cut out 12 8cm pastry discs. Press the pastry into the prepared tin, then fill with custard. Sprinkle over the ground nutmeg.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the custard has started to turn golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. ▪