Are you interested in learning more about Pastéis de Nata, Portuguese Custard Tarts and, perhaps, getting the recipe to make them at home? You're in the right place!
Indulging in a coffee paired with a custard tart is a tradition that runs through the daily routines of the Portuguese, becoming more than a simple gastronomic habit.
It's no wonder that Pastéis de Nata, along with Pastéis de Belém, were deemed the best cakes in the world in 2023 by the Taste Atlas guide.
For those unaware, Pastéis de Nata are small masterpieces of puff pastry filled with egg custard, boasting a rich history and serving as symbols of a Portuguese culinary legacy that has endured through the ages.
In this article, we invite you to dive into the fascinating universe of Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pastéis de Nata.
We'll explore the uncertain origins of this delicacy that has become a national icon, from its possible connection to monasteries to its popularity in Portugal's cafes.
Furthermore, we'll unveil the secrets of the authentic recipe that has captivated taste buds worldwide.
Get ready for a sensory journey beyond taste, delving into the traditions, stories, and flavors that have turned Pastési de Nata into a true Portuguese passion.
Although not certain, it is believed that the history of Pastéis de Nata and their origin is linked to the Jerónimos Monastery.
This means that the custard tart, like many Portuguese sweets, has a conventual origin.
So, in a time of great need, the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery needed funds and turned to custard tarts as a way to raise money to survive.
In other words, they made this sweet in the monastery and sold it in a shop near Belém, hence the name Pastéis de Belém.
The success of the recipe was immediate, as the tarts came out of the ovens still warm and were sold at an impressive speed.
As a way to replicate this success, other pastry shops in the capital and throughout the country created a similar cake, calling it the Pastéis de Nata.
In essence, the Pastel de Nata we know today is an attempt to reproduce the Belém custard tart of the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery.
The Pastel de Nata is so popular that you will find it in almost every cafe and pastry shop in Portugal, but if you are looking for the most iconic places to taste them, we have the answer for you.
One of our favorite places is Manteigaria - Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata, which has shops in Lisbon and Porto.
In addition to being able to savor the tarts fresh out of the oven, the kitchens are visible to the public, which means you can see how these delights are made.
In some shops, they offer workshops so you can learn to make the tarts, but if you want to try at home, check out our recipe for Custard Tarts.
This is the recipe for Pastéis de Nata that we make at home and that always turns out well. Try it and then tell us how it went.
1 rectangular puff pastry, can be store-bought
250 ml of milk with the zest of 1 lemon (150 ml + 100 ml)
30 gr of all-purpose flour
150 gr of sugar
75 ml of water
4 egg yolks
Preparation of Custard Tarts:
Start by greasing the molds with butter or margarine. You don't need to use flour to dust them.
Then roll the square puff pastry to make a roll. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Place each piece of dough in the molds and press the dough with both thumbs to spread it evenly in the mold.
To prepare the custard, place 150 ml of milk with the lemon zest in a saucepan and heat it. Separately, dissolve the flour with the remaining milk, and when the milk with the lemon zest starts to boil, add the mixture of milk and flour.
Stir continuously until it thickens. Remove the lemon zest and, in the meantime, prepare the sugar syrup.
In a separate saucepan, place the water and sugar and let it boil for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the syrup over the custard, mixing well.
Let it cool for a few minutes, and the last step is the incorporation of the egg yolks, which should be done gradually.
Place this mixture in the puff pastry molds and bake in a preheated oven at 230ºC for about 15 minutes.
If you prefer, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar and/or cinnamon, but the plain tarts are equally delicious.
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Take a look at our article titled "Portugal, in the mouth of the world" and embark on a culinary journey that will lead you to discover true delicacies from this country.
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