One of the upsides about being at home is that I am able to find the time to try out recipes that I have been itching to try for awhile.
Despite how much I love croissants and buttery pastries, I am not much of a fan of making puff pastry. As such, you will see that this recipe does not contain what you would usually expect of puff pastry.
Instead, we are going with a non-laminated method. But before we jump the gun and go into the details of it and the inspiration behind it let’s talk about Pastel de Nata.
So I’ll be honest, I know there are 2 (maybe 3) camps when it comes to this pastry. There is the Portuguese traditional Pastel de Nata, then there is the “Portuguese-style” Macau Pastel de Nata, and finally there is Pasteis de Belem which claims to be it’s own entity whose recipe is kept secret and heavily guarded behind a solid metal door.
Which style is this particular tart?
Well, this particular recipe creates a creamy and soft custard tart with a nice blistered top and buttery flaky crust. As for which style it is to be exact… it’s a tough call. So how about we just call it a variation that I love which doesn’t fall into any category in particular but rather a mixture of them all?
It definitely leans away from the Macau style tart that I hear is silkier in texture, and whilst I do plan on sharing a variation of the tart we will be starting with this creamier version.
It took me many many tries and if you follow my stories on instagram you would see the pain of it all 😛
I was in search of a smooth creamy filling that would contrast the flaky crisp crust and boy was that search harder than expected.
The key word is smooth. Because of the tarts being baked at a high heat, you’ll often find that the filling will start to split. To counteract this, many recipes calls for a whole lot more flour to help stabilize the mixture. But what that means is that the final custard isn’t quite as soft.
To add to that, I wanted an extra creamy filling. I mean, if we are looking for creamy fillings, then we may as well go big or go home. So the filling for this uses both cream and milk. None of the low fat stuff here my friends. 😉
Lastly, as a warning, this tart is definitely sweet but I have tried my best to scale back on the sugar and contains significantly less sugar that some of the recipes you may find floating around.
As much as I love desserts I am more of a dark chocolate over milk chocolate kind of girl. 70% or higher is perfect, so when faced with this overly sweet treat, I had to find a way to scale back yet allow for the caramelisation to occur.
Trying to balance, this, along with the shells and the mixture being creamy and stable was not easy but well worth the result.
The Pastry Shell
The tart itself contains no sugar as the sugar will cause the shell to burn. And you may find that there is quite a bit more salt in it than you may expect, it is because the salt balances the sweetness of the custard so do not try to dial back on the salt.
Talking about the crust, the inspiration of making this pastry comes from how strudels and roti prata, are made. It negates the need for any lamination (of the traditional) method and the reason why I am happy to roll with this method is because the pastry of the Pastel de Nata is not as puffy as regular puff pastry.
I also have to mention that the rolling process was inspired by Lady and Pups as well.
Things to note:
- With spreading the butter and just spread a thin layer with your hands. You should have some butter left over by the end of it all. If you spread too much, it will cause your shell to be over buttery/oily, but if you spread too little you won’t get those flaky layers.
- Although I use a machine for kneading the dough, you could definitely knead it by hand. Just check for the right consistency as shown in the video.
- Do not dust your surface with flour when working with stretching the dough. You want it to stick so that you can stretch it out.
- When stretching the dough thin, you want to ensure you get it as thin as possible with as little thick areas. What I like to do is to use my fingers to press and “smush” down the edges to thin it out.
- In the video, when rolling the dough I didn’t use a bench scraper to assist me with releasing dough from the surface, but I usually do use one.
- Try to keep your rolls as tight as possible to reduce air pockets between the layers. But it is all good if you do have pockets of air given that we will be pressing it out later when shaping them into the molds.
- Once rolled, be sure to let your dough rest in the fridge until it is solid or else it would be hard for you to slice into it.
- To save you time, you can shape all of it into the tart shells and freeze it to allow you to have ready prepped shells when you need them.
- If your dough is cold, let it warm up slightly and come to room temp in the molds before pressing it out
- When pressing the pastry into the mold, you want the base to be thinner than the sides, just be sure not to break the base of the tart by making it too thin.
- Using fingers that are just moist will make it easier for you to work the dough into the shell but you don’t want to soak your fingers.
- I use foil tart molds which are quite small and shallow as I do not have the traditional tart molds. If you are using bigger molds, the pastry may make only 9 tarts not 12. Similarly, if you can use a cupcake tin instead of tart molds.
- Ideally you would need a thermometer to judge the right stages of each part but I have shown visual cues in the video to help aide you should you not have a thermometer.
- You can flavour the sugar syrup with a lemon peel and cinnamon stick which is more traditional. I have opted for going without in this instance but feel free to add the cinnamon and lemon, just remove in once the flavour has infused into the syrup.
- You can make the custard the day before and allow it to chill in the fridge. This means that if you prep your tart dough along with the custard the day before you can have tarts ready to be baked the next day.
- Straining it 3 times might seem excessive but I find that it makes for a really smooth mixture.
- I bake on the top 1/3 of the oven in “top and bottom heat fan mode” but I switch it to grill mode in the last few minutes to allow it to get extra blistered. But this is not necessary. Depending on how blistered you want your tarts to be you can opt to just bake regularly through the full 10 mins.
- I also recommend baking one tart first to test your oven and to ensure the custard doesn’t over bake. The blistering can easily be created by turning on your grill mode at an earlier time if it isn’t blistering before it’s ready.
Pastel de Nata
What you’ll need
Makes 12 tarts
- 125g flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 80g water
- 90g unsalted butter, softened (you won’t it need all)
Enough for 6 tarts
- 75g sugar
- 34g water
- Cinnamon stick (optional)
- Lemon peel (optional)
- 18g ap flour
- 1/4tsp salt
- 126g full fat milk
- 80g heavy cream (thickened cream)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3/4tsp Vanilla extract
The pastry shell
Mix, salt, flour, water in a bowl with a dough hook on medium speed for 5mins until slightly elastic or by hand for 5-7 mins. It might still feel tacky but shouldn’t be too wet.
Cover with a wet towel or greased cling wrap and set aside for 1 hr.
Divide dough in 2 and using your hands stretch the first dough out until it is really thin and press the edges down just to thin out any thicker areas.
Spread half the butter all over the first dough and fold the left and right sides of the dough towards the center until you get a rough 14cm width. Roll into a 14cm log.
Set to the side.
Take the second dough ball and repeat spreading it out. Spread butter all over and take the first log and roll/wrap the second dough in it.
Refrigerate 2 hrs or until firm.
Lightly dust your dough with flour if it starts to feel too sticky.
Slice in half. You will only need half of the dough for this, you can reserve the other half for the future by freezing it.
Slice the log into 6 pieces.
Place each one into your tart tin, prepare a small bowl of water and with damp fingers spread the dough out from the middle towards the edges.
You want the base to be thinner than the sides.
Freezer until needed.
Creamy Custard Filling
Heat water and sugar until it forms a syrup for 3 mins after boiling . (Temp to be around 105C)
Mix flour and small amount of the milk together to dissolve. Add the rest of the milk and cream in. Heat on medium low until thicken. (Temp should be at 75C-80C, when small bubbles start to form)
Add syrup to milk and whisk
Add yolks and vanilla whisk
Return to heat and heat on low until custard reaches 85C in temperature.
Refrigerate until fully chilled 2-3 hours or overnight.
Portion into the crusts to about 80% full. Smooth the top with the back of a teaspoon. The filling will puff as it rises so you don’t want to overfill it.
Bake at 260C on upper 1/3 of the oven for 6mins, switch to grill mode on bake for another 4 of until blistered on top. (Total time 10mins).
Using tongs, carefully transfer tarts onto cooling racks
Note: for a less charred look, do not turn grill on just bake at 260C for the full 10mins.
Products used in my kitchen:
Infrared Thermometer: https://amzn.to/2TInxrR
22 Comments Add yours
Tried these out today, came out amazingly! I don’t have a grill feature, but it still charred a little.
Hi such beautiful works
Hi! What brands did you use for your milk and cream? Will be trying this recipe out soon. Thank you so much!
I tried. The recipe a I was impressed really lovely thank you I will try more recipe from your page