Tag Archives: tarts

Portuguese style custard tarts

When I first tried one of these style custard tarts in a Portuguese cafe in London I was blown away. Until that point a custard tart was a custard tart, but after it was Portuguese and nothing else. You see, it makes the ones that I was used to (the English ones) feel dull, flabby, and soggy. And I’m sorry but I’m right about this fact.  This is all due to these Pasteis de Nata. They are something else, and I was recently reminded of their allure on a fleeting visit to Lisbon.
portuguese custard tarts - pasteis de nata
Like so many good things in life, they are surprisingly simple. However I have come across ‘easy’ to make versions of these incorporating shortcuts that mean the final result isn’t quite as expected. They really aren’t that difficult so just give yourself some time.

Preheat the oven to 180°

You want 1 (buttered) muffin tray with 12 servings.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time and 5 minutes standing
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

• 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
• 115g /4ozs  caster sugar
• 2 tbsp cornflour
• 400ml (full fat) milk – not the semi skimmed varieties!
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• 320g/10.6 ozs rolled puff pastry (1 sheet)

For the tarts
Place the sheet on a surface with a plain flour dusting so it doesn’t stick.
Take your sheet of rolled puff pastry and roll it up like a Swiss Roll.

Cut it into 12 slim strips
Take each one and roll it out so it is flat

Take each one and place in the buttered muffin tray.
When all 12 are in the tray, place in the oven and blind bake for about 8-10 minutes. (please see our previous post re blind baking).

Meanwhile for the custard:
Put the eggs, sugar, and cornflour in a pan on the hob and whisk together. Add the milk and keep whisking. As it starts to thicken add the vanilla extract and keep whisking until it thickens. Take off the heat.
At this stage I then pour the custard into the pastry cases.
Place in the oven until the custard starts to brown.

Once the custard tarts have started to brown get them out and put them somewhere to rest. They are best eaten cool.
portuguese custard tarts - pasteis de nata
These are really luxurious and marvellous with a strong black coffee.

To bake blind or not?

Very soon I will publish the recipe of some tarts that I have been working on. I have seen several recipes for them and tried them. However strangely, given the filling is cream based very little was mentioned about baking blind or pre baking. Do not underestimate the value this will bring to your pie or tart. Accomplishing that “gosh that was delicious how did you do that?” reaction in your friends can sometimes be something as simple as a quick pre bake before the filling is added. In the photo you see two tart cases that I made with puff pastry, one that had used baking beans and the other which hadn’t. You can see that the one on the left, which was left au naturel, shrank while the one with baking beans kept its shape and size.

The end result is quite different; it looks different and it chews differently. To some extent this will be a matter of taste, but for that crispier pro finish, I recommend the added step of baking beans.

More on the subject click here

blind baking, pre baking, baking beans for tarts pic by simon bennett