A Pastel de Nata is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, common in Portugal, the Lusosphere countries and regions (which include Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste, Goa, and Macau, introducing them later in Mainland China), and countries with significant Portuguese immigrant populations, such as Canada, Australia, Luxembourg, the United States, and France, among others.
The simple recipe has had various alterations in the Portuguese pastelarias (pastry shops) and padarias (bakeries), in the shape of the pastry cup and the filling. One of these methods includes making the custard in a bain-marie (a bowl over boiling water) rather than combining all the ingredients at once in a saucepan. Some prefer the cream slightly “curdled” to give it a rustic appearance and unusual texture.
Pastel de Nata - Portuguese Egg Tart Pastry
- 250 g caster sugar
- 2 lemon slices
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 250 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 30 g plain flour
- 20 g cornflour (cornstarch)
- few drops vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
- 375 g puff pastry
- flour, icing sugar and ground cinnamon, for dusting
- butter, for the muffin tray
- Tip the sugar, lemon and cinnamon into a pan with 125 ml water and bring to a boil. Mix the flour, cornflour and vanilla with a small amount of milk until you have a smooth paste. Bring the rest of the milk to a boil, then pour it onto the flour mixture, whisking continuously. Pour back into a clean pan and bring to a simmer, whisking until the mixture thickens. Remove the cinnamon and lemon then stir both mixtures together and add the eggs, bring back to a simmer and whisk until smooth. Pour into a jug, cover the surface with clingfilm and allow to cool.
- Heat the oven to 220°C and put a baking sheet in the oven for bottom heat. Roll out the puff pastry on a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour and icing sugar. Cut the pastry in half and lay one sheet on top of the other. Roll the pastry sheets up like a Swiss roll and cut the roll into twelve slices about 1 cm - 2cm thick.
- Lay each of the pastry slices flat on the work surface and roll them out into 10cm discs. Press a pastry disc into each of the wells of a buttered muffin tray. Divide the custard between the pastry cases.
- Bake the tarts for 18-20 minutes on the preheated baking sheet, or until the custard has puffed up and is pale golden-brown, and the pastry is crisp and golden-brown. Allow to cool in the tin. Before serving dust with some cinnamon and icing sugar.
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