Next Up: Pastel de Belém

I’ve been baking over my head the last several weeks, taking on recipes I know nothing about and succeeding about as much as you’d expect. The smart thing at this point is to retreat into something comfortable and familiar. But then why do the smart thing? Why not tempt fate even further, try to climb one of the Everests of pastry wearing nothing but sneakers, and risk total disaster and humiliation? Is that even a question? Let’s go!

I’m in Portuguese-speaking territory already, so let’s hop from Brazil over to Portugal and try something that’s supposed to be impossible: pastel de Belém. Boo-yah!

19 thoughts on “Next Up: Pastel de Belém”

  1. You crack me up! That’s why I keep reading, although I can hardly eat anything you make. (Might try the last one with modifications, though…allergies, y’know.) This looks really interesting, and reminds me of the most awesomest pastry I ever ate, ever. That would have been a Gateau Basque when we were travelling in France some years back. I would love to see how those are made, if you feel up to yet another challenge when you get done with this one…

    1. I’ve got a list going for this year and I shall add this. I’ve had other requests for gateau basque so I’ll probably get to it sooner rather than later! Cheers,

      – Joe

  2. Joe I make these often, in my opinion getting your pastry buttery, light and flaky is the key to their success. Our family loves them. On a trip to Portugal a couple of years ago I decided I needed to try one in every town we visited see who had the best…. it was a tough challenge! A little bakery in the back streets of Lisbon got my vote.

    1. Very interesting. What was it about that particular pastel that made it so special do you think?

      – Joe

      1. For me it was the pastry, it was light and felt like it had a hundred layers and melted in your mouth. I also love the slight burnt bits.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been trying to find a decent recipe for Pastel de Belem for years and none of them seem to be quite up to the mark. I can hardly wait to try yours.

  4. The most difficult thing about these is getting the right pans to make them in. Don’t know about the US, but non-stick is pretty universal here, and you can’t use it because the oven has to be too hot. I grabbed some excellent old deep round-bottomed patty pans that were my mother’s, and managed to buy more from an auction site.

    1. Indeed so. Nonstick dominates here as well. However commercial shops have a fair amount of uncoated pans if you really search.

      – Joe

  5. Hi Joe, I just wanted to say thank you for posting all the great recipes and tips… I had very little amount of knowledge of baking but really wanted to bake things that I like by myself at home and your blog saved my life. Now I don’t have to go to Dunkin’s Donuts to get a lovely classic cake doughnut. I look forward to hearing more from you!

    1. Bless you, Diane, and thanks so much for your very kind note. It made my day!

      – Joe

  6. I’m with Kelly: This is why I love your blog. Just about everything I’ve ever baked has been over my head, but I figure you’ve got to start somewhere. Even when it doesn’t work, it usually teaches me something. I love how you are totally up-front about your failures (which are pretty rare, from what I can tell). So I get to learn from your mistakes, too, instead of just my own!

  7. I’m with Kelly: This is one reason I love your blog. Just about everything I’ve ever baked has been over my head, but I figure you have to start somewhere. And even when I screw up, I usually learn something. I love how you’re up-front about your failures (which are pretty rare, from what I can tell). So I get to learn from your mistakes, too, instead of just my own!

    1. They’re not as rare as you might think!

      But thanks, Bill, I greatly appreciate that. I’ve had a lot of students ask me to be more forthcoming about failures in recent years, for the very reasons you mentioned. I get embarrassed, because, well, who doesn’t like to pretend they’re perfect? But I try to remind myself that it’s better for everybody this way! 😉

      – Joe

  8. I lived in Portugal for about half a year, and fondly remember the various odd and delicious pastries to be samples. But I had no clue what Pastel de Belem were until I looked them up on Google – where I was they were called pastel de nata (cream pastry), and they were hands-down my favourite thing to eat in the entire country. This post has now re-kindled a craving for them, so I’m going to attempt to make them at home myself! 😉

  9. It would be lovely if you successfully recreate Pastel de Belem, but an awesome Pastel de Nata would be lovely too.
    The most delicious pasted de nata I ever ate is the one sold in Taiwan’s KFC (I live in the boondocks I guess). Macau also supposed to be famous of their pasteis de nata but I never have the opportunity to eat them.
    What I love about pastel de nata is the combination of the pastry and the creamy custard filling with the slight caramel taste from the burnt top. I would love to eat them again but I don’t know when I have the opportunity to visit Taiwan again(Portugal can only be visited in dream).

    1. The answer of course: make them yourself! I’m sure we’ll arrive at something you’ll be able to do at home. But then I guess I need to figure it out first! 😉

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *