Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)
Prep 1hr (+20min resting, 2hr chilling and 30min cooling time)Bake 12-15min (per batch)Makes 24
Made by Make Me a Baker student Theresa Ling these Portuguese Custard Tarts will be some of the best you will try. The main trick with these tarts is to bake them at a very high heat (often as hot as your oven will go) for a short period of time to make sure the pastry is lovely and crisp while not over cooking the luscious creamy custard filling, creating a wonderful contrast between the two.
If you've never made portuguese custard tarts before or haven't got the results you wanted from a previous attempt CLICK HERE for my top tips when making them
at home before you start.
Icing sugar and ground cinnamon (optional), to sprinkle
Rough Puff Pastry
225g (1½ cups) plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
Custard2 tablespoons plain flour
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
160ml (⅔ cup) water
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract
6 egg yolks, lightly whisked
To make the Rough Puff Pastry, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and mix with a paddle beater on low speed until well combined and a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a clean bench top and knead until smooth. Shape into a square about 1cm thick, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
- Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the pastry out on a well floured surface to a 35cm square, keeping the edges as neat as possible. Use your fingers to dot small pieces of 75g of the softened butter over the left two-thirds of the pastry, leaving about a 1cm border, and then spread it with your fingers so it covers the pastry roughly. Fold over the unbuttered right hand third of pastry, brush away any excess flour, then fold over the left hand third to cover. Starting from the top, use the rolling pin to tap the pastry widthways to release any air pockets and then press the open edges with your fingertips to seal and enclose the butter. Turn the pastry a quarter turn anticlockwise and then fold in the right hand third of pastry then fold over the left hand third to cover. Again, tap it gently widthways with the rolling pin.
- Reroll the pastry to a 35cm square and, with the folded edge closest to you repeat step 2 one more time, dotting and spreading the left hand two thirds with 75g of the remaining softened butter, folding, turning anti-clockwise and folding again.
- Reroll the pastry to a 35cm x 40cm rectangle. With a short edge closest to you, dot and spread the 75g of remaining softened butter over the whole surface, leaving a 1cm border. Starting from the short edge, roll into a tight log. Use a sharp knife to trim the ends and then cut the log in half. Wrap the logs separately in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours before using (see Baker’s Tips).
- Place two pizza stones in the oven, one in the top third and one in the bottom third. Place an oven rack in between them. Preheat oven to 300°C (280°C fan-forced) for at least 1 hour.
- To make the Custard, place the flour in a medium bowl and use a balloon whisk to gradually stir in 60ml (¼ cup) of the milk until smooth and well combined. Place the remaining milk in a small saucepan and bring just to a simmer over a medium heat. Use the balloon whisk to gradually stir the hot milk into the flour mixture and stir until smooth and well combined. Combine the sugar, water and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer until it reaches 100°C on a thermometer. Remove the cinnamon sticks from the sugar syrup and gradually stir into the milk mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until cooled slightly. Stir in the egg yolks until evenly combined. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool, stirring occasionally, this will take about 30 minutes (see Baker’s Tips).
- Cut one of the pastry logs into twelve 1.5cm lengths (each portion will be about 25g) and place each portion, with a cut side facing up, into an ungreased 50ml capacity (3cm base measurement and 6.5cm top measurement) round-based tartlet tin (see Baker’s Tips). Using your thumb, gently press into the centre of a pastry portion towards the base until about 5mm thick, and then, using your thumbs and working around the tart case, gently ease the pastry up the sides thinning it to about 5mm thick and so it extends about 2mm above the tart tin and forms a thicker lip at the top. Repeat with the remaining pastry portions.
- Place the tart tins on a heavy oven tray. Divide half the cooled custard among the pastry cases, filling each to no more than 5mm from the top edge of the pastry. Bake the tarts between the pizza stones in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and baked through, and the custard is just set and partially charred on the top.
- Remove the tarts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before removing from the tins. Repeat with the remaining pastry log and custard mixture to make 12 more tarts.
- Sprinkle the tarts with icing sugar and/or cinnamon if desired and serve warm or at room temperature (see Baker’s Tips).
- The pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead of using. Keep wrapped in the fridge.
- The custard can be made up to 3 days ahead of baking. Store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge. Stir well before pouring into the tart cases.
- Once cut into portions and before pressing into the tins, you may have to let the pastry stand at room temperature until it softens slightly and becomes pliable enough to be able to be pressed into the tins easily and without force.
- These tarts are best eaten warm or at room temperature the day they are made. However, they will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To refresh, place the chilled tarts back in the tart tins on an oven tray and place in an oven preheated to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) for 10 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the custard is just warmed through (there is no need to use the pizza stones when reheating). Stand the tarts in the tins for at least 5 minutes before removing and serving warm or at room temperature.