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Gill Bland

Pasteis de Nata - Cheating my way back to Portugal

Posted by Gill Bland Monday, 7th July 2014

Mr B and I went on our summer holiday last week. Three days in Lisbon and a couple inland near the Spanish border. I can thoroughly recommend it for sunshine, great scenery, lovely people, good food and a slower pace. If are planning on going to Portugal, do get in touch through and I’ll write you a list...


Pasteis De Nata


Before we’d even left the Metro station from the Airport I’d spotted two stalls selling the famous Pasteis de Nata. A patisserie in Belem, just up the coast from Lisbon, started making these cinnamon flavoured custard tarts back 1837. The recipe is reported to have been developed by monks in order to use up leftover egg yolks. That particular recipe is a closely guarded secret but very close approximations have become a staple around the country.


This is how it should look if you eat it with an espresso in 27 degrees and sunshine:


Pasteis De Nata 1 


We all know that even if you buy the exact same bottle of wine that tasted so wonderful on the veranda of your French gate, it’s never going to taste as good back home when you’ve got work looming on Monday morning. So, this is an easy-make homage to Pasteis de Nata. It will evoke the memories, without undoing all that relaxation from the holiday!


Pasteis de Nata the cheats way

1 pack of ready-made pastry puff or shortcrust. (I had shortcrust in and was under a mound of post-holiday washing, so wasn’t about to go and buy puff!)

3 medium egg yolks

125 g caster sugar

2 tsp cornflour

400ml whole milk

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out.

Lemon zest (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon & 2 tbsp caster sugar mixed together for dusting

Muffin tin, greased.


The pastry cases:

Using a pastry cutter or top of a mug, cut large circles of pastry out and press them into the muffin case. (If not pre-rolled out, roll it out to as thin as possible)

Using your hands carefully stretch the pastry up the sides until the pastry is very thin and reaches about half way up.

You can patch any holes if necessary – these are meant to look rustic.

Put the cases in the fridge.


The custard mixture:

In a medium sized heavy saucepan put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour.

Mix together with a wooden spoon to form a paste.

Heat over a low heat whisking all the time, it will loosen up and then start to thicken again.

At this point, slowly pour in the milk, whisking all the time and bring to a boil. Do not stop whisking or it will burn.

When it boils it should start to really thicken up. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, turn the heat down and keep stirring until it thickens.

Remove from the heat, keep stirring for a bit and then cover with clingfilm and set aside.

Once it has cooled a bit, stir in the vanilla and optional lemon zest.


To assemble and bake:

Preheat the oven to 200c or 180c fan.

If you have a “top heat” option on your Rangemaster, or the sliding grill, it’s a great way to finish the caremelising off at the end.

Take the tart cases out of the fridge. If you want to use up some of the eggwhites, you could brush the pastry with the around the edges but it’s not essential.

Fill with the custard mixture.

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the tarts and pop in the over for 15-20 mins until the pastry is browned and the tarts are browning on the top.

You may wish to use top heat / grill / blow torch the sugar for a lovely crust.


Eat hot or cold while you book a flight to Lisbon to sample the real thing!


Pasteis De Nata 2

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