Pastais de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts)
Pastais de Nata are the most iconic pastry of Poland, with each bakery safely guarding their recipe which has been passed down through the generations. The longing to go back to Portugal again to taste these delicious Pastries has me resorted to making them myself because of lock-down. But don't be fooled by these crispy exterior and creamy interior beauties, they are somewhat fickle to make! If you are brave enough to delve in and make these yummy pastries, be sure to make a double batch! I assure you it'll be worth it.
- Preheat the oven to 250c for at least 1 hour before cooking (yes 250!)
- For the dough... place the flour, salt and water in an electric stand mixer with a dough hook attached and mix on medium speed until it comes together. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour.
- After I hour, roll out the dough into a rectangle shape approx. 8x16 inches in diameter. Spread 1/3 of the soft butter in 2/3 of the rolled dough. Fold the 1/3 that has no butter over into the center of the dough and then fold the other 1/3 into the center, enclosing the butter inside. Allow the pastry to chill for 30 minutes.
- Re-roll the pastry again to 8x16 inch in diameter and repeat the process with another 1/3 of butter and chill again for 30 minutes.
- Re-roll the pastry again to 8x 16 inches again, but this time the process is different!With the remainder butter, spread it thinly over the entire dough. From the shorter (8”) side of the dough, roll the pastry tightly in a swiss-roll motion until you reach the end of the dough. You should now have a sausage shape dough to resemble a swiss-roll. Cover and chill for another hour.
- This process can be time consuming, therefor the dough can be made in advance and chilled over night or better still make a double batch and freeze until needed!
- When the dough had chilled, using a small sharp knife and ruler, score the pastry in the dead center of the dough roll. Then score again in the center of either side of the centre score. So now you have scored the pastry 3 times! Then score 3 scores within each piece so that you have 12 equal sized pieces of dough, now you can cut each score to get 12 pieces. Place 1 piece of dough into a 12 cupcake tin (no need to grease if its non stick!). The dough pieces should be turned up so that you can see the Swiss-roll effect of the dough and butter lamination. Now with your thumb press the centre of the dough to spread it out from the centre and working with both thumbs spread it out thinly. Patch any holes if needed!
For the syrup.... Place all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil and allow to simmer slowly for 10 minutes so that it infused the flavors of the lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
For the custard... place the flour and milk in a medium pot and whisk briskly until it comes to the boil and thickens, and no lumps remain.Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- When the milk and flour has cooled for 10 minutes, whisk in the egg yolks one by one until well whisked. Then slowly trickle in the syrup (remove the cinnamon stick first) until it has all combined then strain the entire mix to remove any lumps and lemon zest.
- Pour the mix equally (use a jug!) into the prepared dough in the cupcake tray until 3/4 the way up the dough.
- Place the tray in the preheated (for 1 hour) oven on the centre shelf. Allow to bake for 8-9 minutes until the dough is golden brown in colour. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tray to avoid burning yourself.Using a butter knife, remove the tarts and place on a wire rack to cool a little more before eating. These Pastais are best eaten warm and on the day of baking. There is a lot of work making these beauties, but it is so worth it. I made a double batch and I’m glad I did as they didn’t last too long! Enjoy!
For the dough...
- 225g plain flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 205ml cold water
- 225g softened butter
For the custard....
- 25g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 6 egg yolks
For the syrup...
- 260g caster sugar
- 160ml water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- Zest of ½ lemon