Pastéis de nata

It was love at first bite when I encountered one of these beauties in Portugal while on a work retreat 4 years ago – they are a custard tart pastry delight. Give me one and a cup of coffee and I’m pretty much ready to tackle anything and consequently they’re definitely on my approved pre-breakfast foodstuffs list. There are many different recipes out there, some use cream, some a more traditional custard, but what I like about this particular recipe is the stability of the custard – you’re unlikely to end up with a scrambled egg tart here (thanks BBC good food!). Btw in case you’re wondering, word nerds, pasteis de nata is the plural, pastel de nata is the singular. Makes 12.

Ingredients

1 pack ready rolled puff pastry

120g caster sugar

1 large egg + 2 extra yolks

2 tbsp cornflour

400ml whole milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Make the filling – you need to leave it to cool before you use it.
  2. Put the egg, yolks, sugar and cornflour into a saucepan and mix well.
  3. Gradually add the milk, stirring all the time. I start with a wooden spoon then switch to a balloon whisk. Keep stirring/whisking until you’ve mixed in all of the milk.
  4. Start heating the custard gently at first, stirring all the time, until it thickens and comes to the boil
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, cover with a piece of greaseproof paper or clingfilm directly on the surface of the custard (so it doesn’t form a skin) and leave to cool completely.
  6. Heat oven to 180C Fan.
  7. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin, and cut strips of greaseproof paper to lay in each hole (you’ll use these to lift out the pastries easily later).
  8. Unwrap the pastry and cut lengthwise in two. Lay one piece on top of the other, then roll it up tightly into a sausage from the short end.
  9. Cut into 12 rounds, then roll each round into a roughly 10cm disc. Place each disc into the muffin tin, flexing the pastry to sit neatly in the hole – you might have some overlaps, that’s fine.
  10. Spoon in the cooled custard, then bake for 25 minutes until the tops start to brown.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then use the greaseproof strips to lift out the pastries easily – cool further on a wire rack.
  12. Grab a coffee and be very happy that you’ve made them.

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