It’s pastry week on The Great British Bake Off and as I like to make a bake each week inspired by the show, this week it has to be Portuguese Custard Tarts (pastéis de nata ) as they are one of my favourite pastries. They were what the contestants had to make for the technical challenge.
I have made them before from scratch, they were good although if I am honest not as good as the ones I can get locally in a Portuguese bakery. But there is no getting away from it they are fiddly and quite frankly I didn’t think I would bother making them again. The end result was that while the homemade tarts tasted good they just didn’t taste good enough to warrant the time it takes to make them. That said a while back I saw a recipe in a Delicious Magazine supplement for a full size tart and I had kept it thinking I might give that ago.
And that brings me to to this week show. I decided I would make the larger tart and so bought two packets of puff pastry as the recipe suggested but when it came to it, I had far to much pastry and so decided to make a batch of small ones as well.
The Delicious magazine recipe made the custard the traditional way as the contestants on the show had to do. This involves making a sugar syrup but by now I was dedicated to making these as simple as I could and so that went out the window and instead I choose to make a basic custard using a bit of custard powder enriched with egg yolks, cream and vanilla extract. If you would like to try making it with a sugar syrup try this recipe from Olive Magazine
The end result is small custard tarts that tasted very similar to a traditional Portuguse Custard Tart but mine are so much easier to make. So much so I will definitely be making them again. In my view, the slight sacrifice of authenticity is worth making for the time and effort saved. So if you would like to make these delightlful tarts but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen then this recipe is for you.
As for the bigger tart – It tasted good but the bigger custard to pastry ratio makes it more suitable as a dessert than to serve with a cup of coffee which is how I like to eat them. ( I also put mine briefly under the grill to try brown the top. It didn’t really work as the pastry burnt though fine once I trimmed it off. Either leave as it is, or brown with a blow torch taking care not to catch the pastry )
This simplified version of the classic pastéis de nata - Portuguese custard tart uses bought puff pastry and a simple custard to make these delicious little tarts.
- 320 g ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 tbsp custard powder
- 150 g golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 3 egg yolks
- 250 ml full cream milk
- 75 ml double cream (heavy cream)
Preheat the oven to 190℃ (170℃ fan)/375°F/gas mark 5. Lightly grease a 12 hole bun or muffin tin.
Unroll the pastry and remove the lining sheet, then reroll to form a log of pastry. Cut into 1.5cm (½in) thick slices.
Lay each piece on a lightly floured surface and roll out each round until they are 9cm (3½in) in diameter. Press each round into the prepared tin.
Place the custard powder and sugar in a bowl with the vanilla paste and egg yolks. Add a little milk and whisk to form a smooth paste.
Heat the milk with the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, then return to the pan. Heat gently stirring constantly until the custard thickens slightly.
Divide the custard equally between the pastry cases and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the pastry is crips the custard is set and beginning to brown on the top. Allow to cool and serve cold
This giant version of Portuguese Custard Tart is easy to make and makes a delicious dessert.
- 320 g ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 egg, separated
- 2 tbsp custard powder
- 250 g golden caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla paste
- 5 egg yolks
- 500 ml full cream milk
- 150 ml double cream heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 6. Lightly grease a shallow
- Unroll the pastry and remove the lining sheet, then reroll to form a log of pastry. Cut into 1.5cm (½in) thick slices.
Lay each piece on a lightly floured surface and roll out each round until they are 9cm (3½in) in diameter. Arrange in the prepared tin so that they overlap slightly and cover the base and sides of the tin. Press the pieces together stretching the pastry slightly if required to make sure there are no gaps between the pieces.
Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes then remove the parchment and beans. Lightly beat the egg white and brush the surface of the pastry with egg white. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is just beginning to colour and feels dry.
Meanwhile make the custard. Place the custard powder and sugar in a bowl with the vanilla paste and egg yolks. Add a little milk and whisk to form a smooth paste.
- Heat the milk with the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, then return to the pan. Heat gently stirring constantly until the custard thickens slightly.
When the pastry case comes out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 180℃ (160℃ fan)/350°F/gas mark 4. Pour the custard into the pastry case and bake for 40 minutes.
Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely . Serve cold.
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