Pastéis de Nata | PORTUGUESE TART
Updated: Mar 19, 2022
This tart, if made correctly, is incredibly delicious with a few simple rules, the custard fillings need to be done right.
My first few Portuguese tart was nothing short of a scrambled mess until I found out the secret to that light and smooth custard. If you came across recipes that just asked you to make a common custard base and bake it at an over 220 degree Celsius oven, be prepared to fail because this will guarantee a custard that scrambles.
In order to achieve that sweet custard that stays smooth and is slightly charred at the top (which is what a Portuguese tart should be), follow the few tips and tricks below.
I have included a step by step guide on how to prepare your own puff pastry for this tart but if you are short on time, you can opt to use the store bought puff pastry that are usually on the frozen pastries section in the supermarket.
Yield: 12 tarts
Preparation Time: 2 hours
Recipe by Christean Ng
350 g Baker's Flour
190- 200 ml Water
8 g Fine Salt
280 g Croissant Butter (For laminating)
45 g Plain Flour
260 g Full Cream Milk
170g Granulated sugar
1 Lemon Peel
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Vanilla bean paste
80 g Egg Yolks (4 egg yolks)
For the Puff Pastry Dough
Make the dough by placing the flour and salt into a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. Gradually stream in the water while mixing on low to medium speed. Adjust the quantity of water if necessary. You want the dough the just come together to a smooth dough with no dry bits of flour. The dough should not be too soft and wet either.
Transfer the dough on to the work surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes until completely smooth.
Roll the dough with the help of a rolling pin to a rectangle that fits a flat tray. Line the tray with some parchment paper, transfer the sheeted dough over. Wrap the tray well then place it into the fridge to rest overnight,
Beurrage | Lamination Butter
Place the French butter in between two parchment paper. Roll it to 200mm x 200 mm squares. Place on a flat surface in the fridge to chill.
Before lamination, remove the butter to room temperature until it is flexible but not melting when touched.
Note: The butter sheet can be prepared a day ahead.
Roll the dough to 400mm x 200mm rectangle. Place the butter sheet on one end of the sheeted dough. Cut the dough through the centre then place the opposite side of the dough on top of the butter. You now have three layers of "dough -butter - dough".
Roll to 600mm in length then perform a book fold. (Refer for video for reference on how to do this). Place the puff pastry dough onto a flat tray lined with parchment paper and leave to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge covered.
Once rested, remove the pastry from the fridge and rolling from the open ends to open ends, to approximately 600mm in length and perform another book turn. Cover the dough and leave to rest in the fridge for another 20 minutes.
When the dough has rested, roll it once again (from open end to open end) to 500 mm in length and this time perform a single fold.
Place the puff pastry dough onto a flat tray, cover and rest for 20 - 30 minutes.
Shaping and Lining
When you are ready for assembly, Roll the Puff Pastry to 250mm x 300 mm rectangle. From the shorter end, roll the pastry to roll. Wrap in a parchment paper and place in the freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes until firm enough to cut.
Once firm, lightly grease the tart tins then divide the pastry to 12 equal portions by cutting them with a serrated knife of approximately 20 mm in thickness each. It is recommended that you use a serrated knife that has been lightly oiled and saw through the pastry. This prevents you from squashing the dough too much that can ruin the layers of the puff pastry.
Line the puff discs into its individual tart ring then press the edges slightly to even them out.
Lightly grease your fingers then gently press the dough from the centre outwards to create an indent, working your way out until it is wide enough to line into the individual tart ring.
Ensure that the butter do not get too soft during this process and work quickly. When you are shaping the dough to a cup discs, try to shape them as even in thickness as possible.
When pressing the puff pastry in the tart mould, make sure that you press them out enough and the base layer of dough is not too thick, otherwise they will not cook through and become doughy. The dough should slightly overhand the edge of the mould.
If the room temperature is particularly warm, you can place the portioned puff pastry covered in the fridge while working with each portion at a time.
Place the lined tart cases onto a baking tray, cover and leave in the fridge while you prepare the cinnamon filling.
Note: It is important to use the cinnamon filling chilled when filling the puff cases.
1. To make the Cinnamon Filling, start by placing the sugar, water and cinnamon into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, continue cooking until the syrup reaches 105˚C.
Once the required temperature is reached, turn the heat off then add in the vanilla bean paste and lemon peels. Set aside to infuse while preparing the flour slurry.
2. Place the flour in a bowl then add in half of the milk. Whisk until there are no lumps then add in the rest of the milk and continue to whisk until well combined.
Transfer the milk/flour mixture over a heavy base saucepan and cook over low to medium heat while constantly whisking until it starts to thicken to a roux/paste.
3. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel from the still warm sugar syrup. Gradually stream in the syrup into the flour roux while whisking without incorporating too much egg in the mixture.
Once all the syrup has been added, leave for it to cool below 60˚C.
Gradually whisk in the egg yolks and continue to whisk until smooth.
4. Pass the cinnamon fillings over a fine sieve into another bowl and into a jug. Place a plastic wrap over touching the surface of the filling and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once chilled, remove the custard filling from the fridge, stir with a spoon then fill each puff pastry tart shell all the way up to 80% full.
Preheat the oven to 220˚C.
When you are ready to bake, fill the lined puff pastry tart case with chilled custard filling until they are 80% full.
Place the trays of tarts closest to the heat bar at the top in the oven, the bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the top starts to dome and become charred slightly.
Once baked, remove from the oven, sprinkle with some cinnamon powder. Let the tarts cool slightly before removing them from the rings.
Best served warm.
Note: If the base of your tart cases is too pale after baking, you can carefully remove them from the tin, place them back onto the baking tray and bake for a further 10 to 20 minutes at 180˚C.