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Pastel de Nata—the most famous treat in Portugal

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

How many Pastel de Natas can you eat in one week? I really don't want to answer that question. The truth is, a lot. This delight is best enjoyed on the go and is perfectly paired with coffee and good company.


The good thing is you don’t need to go to Portugal to enjoy the most famous egg tarts in the world.


Thanks to the store-bought puff pastry nowadays you can save lots of time making the pastry – the longest part for this hero dish. But many home bakers agree that homemade puff pastry is always the best. I'll let you decide which way you want to go.



A tray of pastel de Natas, crispy on top
Pastel de Nata—the most famous treat in Portugal

The Story

It was developed by monks of the Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal before the 18th century. The monks and nuns used egg whites to starch their clothes particularly nuns’ habits, and used the leftover egg yolks to develop a host of desserts, the most famous being the Pastel de Nata.


In order to raise money for the monastery, the monks would make and sell their pastéis de nata to a nearby sugar refinery. Unfortunately, not even the popularity of the pastéis could save the struggling monastery, and the monks were forced to close down in 1834.


In the process, they sold their recipe to the owner of the refinery. Clearly realizing how special the recipe was, the businessman went on to open his own bakery, Pastéis de Belém. I am very happy to say I made a special trip to sample their Pastel de Natas.


 

The Recipe – Pastel de Nata

Ingredients


Dough

1 sheet 225 g puff p


astry, thawed

1 tbsp butter, melted


Filling

½ cup sugar



3 tbsp cornstarch

4 egg yolks

1 egg

2 cups milk

2 tbsp corn syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 stick cinnamon

Ground cinna


mon, to taste


Instructions

Dough

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 33 cm square. With a brush, cover the entire surface of the dough with the butter. Roll up tightly and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Cut the ends of the roll. Cut into 14 slices.

On a floured work surface, thinly roll out each slice with a rolling pin. With your hands, line Portuguese tart pans. If the dough is too large, cut off the excess with scissors. Refrigerate while preparing the filling. Filling

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 270 °C.

In a saucepan off the heat, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add the egg yolks and egg and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, corn syrup, vanilla and cinnamon stick. Mix thoroughly.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. Simmer until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat. Strain through a sieve.

Spoon 3 tablespoons of the filling into the pans. Smooth out the top.

Bake immediately for 13 to 15 minutes or until the top is caramelised and the crust is crispy. Let it cool before removing from pans.

Generously dust with cinnamon before serving.


Download recipe here

Pastel da Nata
.pdf
Download PDF • 299KB

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