Pastéis de Nata Recipe

Pastéis de Nata Recipe
By The Cooking World, Editorial Staff
May 13, 2022

Pasteis de Nata Recipe: The Famous Portuguese Custard Tarts

In this week's We Cook Books recipe, we decided to share a Pastéis de Nata recipe from Portugal: The Cookbook.

Accordingly to Maria de Lourdes Modesto, Portugal's Julia Child as it is called by new your times, "These pastries are probably the most important Portuguese specialty ever sold!"

Almost four decades later, they remain the ultimate national symbol of Portugal. Today's pastéis de nata recipes are adaptations of the original that dates back to the 16th century, when they were made in monasteries and convents all over the country.

These palm-sized tarts have a melt-in-the-mouth, fragile, flaky crust and a not-too-sweet custard that is caramelized and darkened in spots.

3 hours 30 minutes


For the Filling

320 g (1 1/3 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
50 g (1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons) cornflour (cornstarch)
4 egg yolks
600 g (2 1/2 cups) whole (full-fat) milk
1 vanilla pod (bean), split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
Pared rind of 2 lemons

For the puff pastry

320 g (1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons)
600 g (4 3/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
480 g (4 sticks + 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
Sea salt

To finish

icing sugar, for dusting
ground cinnamon, for dusting

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  1. To make the puff pastry, put the flour into a mound on a work counter. Put the water into a jug (pitcher) or measuring jug and season with a pinch of salt. Make a small well in the middle of the flour and pour in the water. Start mixing the flour into the water to form a smooth dough, then cover with a towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the butter into three equal portions of 160 g (5 3/4oz). Lay a large piece of food wrap on a work counter. Cut the first portion of butter into thin slices and lay these on the food wrap in a 20-cm (8-inch) square. Put a second piece of food wrap on top of the butter and use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into a thin 20-cm (8-inch) square sheet. Repeat with the
    remaining two portions of butter so that you have three sheets of butter. The butter needs to be cool but pliable when added to the dough, so chill the sheets and remove each one from the fridge only 5 minutes before using it.
  3. Roll the dough out on a floured work counter into a 21-cm (8 1/2-inch) square. Put a sheet of butter in the center of the dough, leaving a 5-mm (1/4-inch) border. Fold the dough and butter in half by folding the top half down, then fold in half again by folding from left to right. Roll out into another 21-cm (8 1/2-inch) square, then transfer to a baking sheet, cover
    and rest in the fridge for 25 minutes. Repeat with the remaining two sheets of butter. Rest the dough each time you add the butter. When you have used up all the butter, roll the dough into a rectangle 32 × 20cm (13 × 8 inches). Roll the dough tightly into a cylinder, starting from the long edge. Cover the dough in food wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight. If using ready-made puff pastry, roll the pastry out to a rectangle 32 × 20cm (13 x 8 inches). Roll the pastry tightly into a cylinder, cover and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
  4. To make the filling, put the sugar into a saucepan with the water and heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium and boil for 8-10 minutes until it reaches 116°C (241 °F) on a thermometer.
  5. Meanwhile, put the cornflour (cornstarch), egg yolks, milk, vanilla pod (bean) and seeds and lemon rind into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Once the sugar has reached temperature, remove the pan from the heat and whisk the syrup into the milk mixture. Mix well, then pour the mixture back into the pan and put over low heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until it thickens. Remove and discard the lemon rind and vanilla pod, then strain through a chinois or sieve (fine mesh strainer) into a clean bowl and leave to cool. Cover and chill until needed.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut slices from the dough cylinder, about 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick, making a downwards cut and not slicing. Each portion should be about 25 g (1 oz), but this will depend on the size of your pans or pan.
  7. Have a bowl of cold water nearby. Arrange all the cake pans on several baking sheets and keep them in the fridge. One at a time, place a circle of pastry in the bottom of each pan, making sure the layers of butter are seen when viewed from above. This ensures the pastry will rise outwards and upwards as it bakes. Wet your thumb in the cold water and press the dough towards the outer edge of the pan, filling up to the rim. Repeat with all the pans, then put them back in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 240 °C (475 °F). Fill the lined pans with the filling, almost to the top. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, or until the filling is almost set with browned spots on the top and the dough is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar and ground cinnamon. Serve warm or cold. These tarts are best eaten on the day they are made.
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