Next, we travel to Portugal!
I was recommended a few different pastries for Portugal from Portuguese natives, and decided to try these little egg tarts. Part of the reason I was drawn to them is that they were a snack I was fond of when I lived in South Korea. They weren’t really a traditional Korean thing, but you could find them in a variety of “European style” bakeries (I put quotes around that because very few self proclaimed European bakeries were actually authentic….lookin’ at you, Paris Baguette) and a few cafes around, and they were a delicious enough snack or dessert! So I wanted to try out this particular egg tart recipe!
Lemme tell ya right now, if you’ve never had an egg tart, make some of these things. As in this kind. As in this recipe. These Portuguese Pastel de Nata are fantastical!
I enjoy experimenting with baking and such, but somehow, I’ve managed to avoid making any sort of puff pastry or laminated dough. But this crust is just that, and even though it’s a little bit extensive (but hardly extensive compared to authentic croissant making, according to one of my bakery friends- who makes masterful croissants!), it’s so worth it. I think I may suck it up and make this kind of dough/crust for all the things now! Cuz it was gooood. And it just looks super pretty right?? Look at those layers!
The recipe I used said to use a mini muffin tin to make these but 1) All I had was a regular muffin tin and 2) the regular muffin tin looked closer to the size of the tarts I saw in pictures, and 3) a mini muffin tin seemed too small for my American mind anyway, so…regular sized muffin tin it is!
And as I said before, they turned out fantastical.
The process included making the crust, which took the longest, making the custard filling, and the baking. I’d never seen this method of making custard before, but it was quite lovely and had a really nice, smooth texture, and a rich and nicely satisfying flavor. It involved cooking a sugar syrup, scalding milk, and stirring it all into the egg yolks in specific orders. I particularly enjoyed the cinnamon stick cooked into the sugar syrup which provided a nice touch as well.
I get the feeling that maybe I should have baked them a little longer to get more of a browned effect, but I also think the lack of bubbly browning may have to do with the fact that my oven didn’t reach 550 degrees as the recipe called for, only 500, so I just turned it up to that, and hoped for the best!
None of the pictures I saw of these egg tarts were dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon, however that is what the recipe called for, and that is how I read that they are served sometimes, and lets be real, who isn’t in favor of more sugar and cinnamon??
So that’s what I did.
(ugghhh dishessss that’s the worst part whyyy??)
I got my recipe from here >>> Leite’s Culinaria site.
For the pasteis de nata dough
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth
For the custard
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk, divided
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks, whisked
For the garnish
- Confectioners’ sugar
Make the pasteis de nata dough
- 1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft, pillowy dough forms that pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 30 seconds.
- 2. Generously flour a work surface and pat the dough into a 6-inch square using a pastry scraper. Flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- 3. Roll the dough into an 18-inch square. As you work, use the scraper to lift the dough to make sure the underside isn’t sticking to your work surface.
- 4. Brush the excess flour off the top of the dough, trim any uneven edges, and, using a small offset spatula, dot and then spread the left 2/3 portion of the dough with a little less than 1/3 of the butter being careful to leave a 1 inch plain border around the edge of the dough.
- 5. Neatly fold the unbuttered right 1/3 of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks) over the rest of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left 1/3 of the dough. Starting from the top, pat down the dough with your hand to release any air bubbles, and then pinch the edges of the dough to seal. Brush off any excess flour.
- 6. Turn the dough 90° to the left so the fold is facing you. Lift the dough and flour the work surface. Once again roll it out to an 18-inch square, then dot the left 2/3 of the dough with 1/3 of the butter and smear it over the dough. Fold the dough as directed in steps 4 and 5.
- 7. For the last rolling, turn the dough 90° to the left and roll out the dough to an 18-by-21-inch rectangle, with the shorter side facing you. Spread the remaining butter over the entire surface of the dough.
- 8. Using the spatula as an aid, lift the edge of dough closest to you and roll the dough away from you into a tight log, brushing the excess flour from the underside as you go. Trim the ends and cut the log in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or preferably overnight. (The pastry can be frozen for up to 3 months.)
Make the custard
- 9. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup milk until smooth.
- 10. Bring the sugar, cinnamon, and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 220°F (100°C). Do not stir.
- 11. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture.
- 12. Remove the cinnamon stick and then pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream into the hot milk-and-flour mixture, whisking briskly. Add the vanilla and stir for a minute until very warm but not hot. Whisk in the yolks, strain the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. (You can refrigerate the custard for up to 3 days.)
Assemble and bake the pastries
- 13. Heat the oven to 550°F (290°C). Remove a pastry log from the refrigerator and roll it back and forth on a lightly floured surface until it’s about an inch in diameter and 16 inches long. Cut it into scant 3/4-inch pieces. Place 1 piece pastry dough, cut side down, in each well of a nonstick 12-cup mini-muffin pan (2-by-5/8-inch size). Allow the dough pieces to soften several minutes until pliable.
- 14. Have a small cup of water nearby. Dip your thumbs in the water, then straight down into the middle of the dough spiral. Flatten it against the bottom of the cup to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, then smooth the dough up the sides and create a raised lip about 1/8 inch above the pan. The pastry sides should be thinner than the bottom.
- 15. Fill each cup 3/4 full with the slightly warm custard. Bake the pasteis until the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, about 8 to 9 minutes.
- 16. Remove from the oven and allow the pasteis to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle the pasteis generously with confectioners’ sugar, then cinnamon and serve. Repeat with the remaining pastry and custard. These are best consumed the day they’re made.