A little while before Christmas I took another online baking class, having mastered Sourdough, in order to learn how to make Portuguese Custard Tarts, or Pastéis de nata.
Here is the recipe in case you fancy trying it yourself sometime…
- 2 tbsp Plain flour
- 2 tbsp Icing sugar, plus more to serve
- 2 rolls of puff pastry (I prefer the pre-rolled kind)
- 250gr Caster Sugar
- 2 strips of lemon peel
- 6 egg yolks
- 50gr cornflour
- 500ml Whole milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1) Mix the flour and icing sugar and use this to dust the work surface. Roll the pastry out – or if using pre-rolled, just open it out flat, and dust the surface with a few teaspoons of cinnamon, then and roll it up from the long edge to create a long sausage shape. When is all done, trim the edges, and set aside or put it back into the fridge.
2) Make a sugar syrup by bringing the sugar, 165ml water, lemon peel strips and cinnamon stick to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and check with a spoon when it reaches “pearling point” – when the liquid pearls into sligthly thickened/more viscous droplets before falling from the spoon. Then turn off the heat and allow to cool, and remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick.
3) Whisk the cornflour and 50ml milk until smooth in another large bowl.
4) Heat the rest of the milk in a separate pan until just below boiling point. Gradually pour the hot milk over the cornflour mixture continually whisking.
5) Heat the oven to 250c/ gas 9
6) Add the 6 egg yolks to a bowl with just 50ml of the cooled sugar syrup/custard mix. Mix well. This will gently warm the egg yolks
7) Add the rest of the cooled sugar syrup to the eggs and whisk until thickened slightly.
8) Add the egg mixture to the milk and cornflour mixture. This is your custard. Don’t be alarmed if it’s runny, it will set when cooked later.
9) Pour the custard through a sieve into a jug, set aside. If you perfer you can skim any bubbles or foam off the top.
10) Cut the pastry roll into wheels about 1-2 cm thick.
11) Turn them on their side (so you can see the cinnamon swirl on the top) and roll each wheel lightly with the rolling pin to fit into your non-stick cupcake tins or squash them by hand carefully into the tin mould.
12) Press the pastry circles into the tins and mould it to make thin cases. Chill until needed.
13) Stir the custard well before using, as the cornflour tends to sink to the bottom, and then pour the custard into the pastry cases till about ¾ full. The custard will bubble up in the oven and then sink back down when cooling so you don’t want them too full as they might bubble over. However I’ve also learned that too often you end up with too much pastry and not enough custard so the balance takes practice!
14) Bake for 15 min until the pastry is golden and the custard has darkened. You may need to adjust the temp or baking length in your oven as they vary. (Mine gets too hot and they tend to burn so I usually do 20 mins at 230 degrees instead.) Little blackened spots on the top is good, but mine tends to burn the pastry instead of the custard so it’s a bit of trial and error.
15) Cool completely in the tins then sift over icing sugar mixed with cinnamon to serve (optional). You can freeze these once cooked as it makes a large batch. The custard can be kept for 2-3 days in the fridge, just stir well before use to mix in the cornflour.