Week One: Portugal – Breakfast: Pasteis De Nata

Pasteis De Nata

My custard “puffed up” thanks to my oven being on the blink and too hot. Still, the kids loved them…

There was only really one choice when it came to breakfast – Pasteis De Nata. These little custard pastries are available everywhere in Portugal and just one of the custardy dishes that the Portuguese seem to love. My own experience of them is mainly from the coffee shops on the Goldborne Road, eaten in the shadow of Trellick Tower with a galao, a milky coffee similar to a café latte.

According to Wikipedia, these pastries were first created by monks in the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, an area of Lisbon. The Portuguese love for custardy, creamy desserts stems from the convents and monasteries producing large quantities of eggs. Apparently, the egg whites were used for starching clothes, which lead us to wonder whether the medieval clergy of Portugal were not only extremely stiff but also smelt rather… eggy. If you’re an expert in medieval Portugal, please get in touch to resolve this issue. The leftover egg yolks were used to create pastries and puddings.

How To Make Pasteis De Nata 

I came across this video on YouTube when looking for the recipe from a young lady called Carmen Del Sol. The fact that she’s a nice looking gal in no way swayed me from choosing this recipe over all the others… no way in a million years. The tunes from some geezer called Nino Guitar in the background are also pretty cool.

Pasteis De Nata Recipe:

Pastry:

  • 500 g flour with salt
  • 250g butter

Custard:

  • 1l milk
  • 60g plain flour and 20g corn flour
  • 375g sugar
  • 7 egg yolks + 1 whole
  • Lemon zest – whole lemon
  • Cinnamon – 2 – 3 inch stick

You can make your own puff pastry if you want but I dispensed with that and given I had two hungry kids waiting for me to make the pastries for breakfast I’m glad I did.

The custard is pretty straightforward:

 – Heat the milk with zest and cinnamon

I did this while I rolled out the pastry, greased a muffin tin and made the shells. It just needs enough time for the flavours to infuse into the milk – five to ten minutes simmering a low heat.

– Cool the milk

This is so it doesn’t cook the eggs when you add it to the yolks – no one wants scrambled egg pastries.

 – Beat the egg yolks + flour together

I do this until they get to a nice pale colour.

– Add the milk

Add the milk and beat the whole lot together.

Eating Pasteis De Nata

Trust me… that is a face of enjoyment not suffering

I’d recommend following the technique in the video for filling the pastry shells – I tried it without and spilled custard all over my hob which is a pain in the ass to clean off. Carmen’s way let’s you control the flow of custard really nicely and is a lot less messy.

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