Pastéis de Nata Recipe

This recipe has some unusual features: plenty of flour in the custard mix (presumably to inhibit curdling in the high heat) and a cooked syrup. I have yet to try it, so maybe hold off until I give it a go. Should be fun! As a reminder I need to say that you’ll need jumbo-sized muffin tins for this project, but they must be uncoated — i.e. not nonstick, since nonstick coatings start to break down about 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

About 1 1/2 pounds puff pastry dough (home made is what you want)
2 cups whole milk
the peel from one lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ounces (half cup minus 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) flour
12 ounces (1 and 2/3 cups) sugar
2/3 cup water
7 egg yolks

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll the chilled puff pastry dough out to about 12″ x 12″, cut it in half and put one half back in the refrigerator. Roll the other half very thin, about 1/8″ thick. Using a 4″ cutter, cut out as many circles as you can and lay them into your buttered muffin molds. Repeat with the reminding dough and put the lined molds back into the refrigerator to rest.

Meanwhile make the filling. Combine the flour and a few ounces of the milk in a small bowl and whisk until you have a paste. Bring the remaining milk to a boil and add the cinnamon, lemon peel and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, whisk it all together and take the pan off the heat.

Next, combine the sugar and water in another saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook it to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool. When it’s cool, add the syrup to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Strain everything through a sieve to remove the solids. Lastly, whisk in the yolks.

Fill each crust about 3/4 of the way full with the custard mixture. Bake until the tarts sport brown spots in the surface, about 20 – 25 minutes. After the allotted time, if the custard looks puffy and the edges of the crust are golden, but you still have none of the classic brown spots on the top, you can finish the tarts under a low broiler. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them!

When done, cool the tarts on a wire rack. Serve the pastéis dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon if desired.

12 thoughts on “Pastéis de Nata Recipe”

  1. This recipe has me wondering. I agree with you that cooking at 750° is almost certainly a myth. However, this recipe seems very light on the eggs. Even if it did get quite hot do you think it would ever set very firm? Or maybe a thin filling is the goal; I’ve never actually tried one of the pastries.

    1. I think a firm filling really is the idea…not a light custard. But what do I know? At the moment I have a genuine Portuguese person sampling my finished pastéis. I’ll let you know the verdict!

      – Joe

  2. I’ve been away and am reading these backwards, so my comments on the other posts will seem a bit odd. Less flour. The high heat is for stopping the custard from curdling. I made them with NO flour. Flour is cheating.

      1. I considered doing this…rolling out a very thick and flat piece of puff pastry, but it’s really not the way it’s done in Portugal, where they in fact do employ the method of the longer, more slender roll. The result is a cup-shaped crust that for the most part keeps the dough layers intact. For my part I’d rather not crush a roll of short layers with a rolling pin. I think the simple sheet that I suggest preserves more of the intent of the original.

        – Joe

        1. Yes, the method for sfogliatelle is very similar – and it CAN be done with high gluten flour, but it is a PITA , you have to go very slowly and have cold hands.
          Slicing the thick roll and flattening slightly does work very well for pasteis de nata though. Better than you think. The layers don’t get smooched, they just tend to lean over to one side a bit.

          1. I’m very interested in trying that particular technique, make no mistake. I’ve seen it done for other types of things (like sfogliatelle) and I think it looks fantastic. I also agree that it’ll work with stretchy gluten!

            – Joe

    1. Hehe…well if that’s true no one’s told the Portuguese! I have yet to see a recipe for these (in English or Portuguese) that doesn’t call for flour in the custard. That’s not to say there aren’t any, but based on what I’ve found the floured custard is the norm.

      – Joe

  3. Hello
    I attempting to make Queijadas de Nata. In San Jose, Ca there is one bakery called Popular Bakery. They make the tart without a crust. I’ve talked to two of the bakeries in the area including Popular and they stated you just flour and butter the pan like you would a cake pan or spray and flour. (Pam). Then put the mixture in and bake@ 500 for 15 min. The crust worked but too dark. It should be translusent. I’ve only made one batch close but not exact. I don’t like the crust but, I’ve never had the ones from Sintra. It’s important that I make them as traditionally as I can. I have 3 sons that I am teaching how to make traditional foods from their Portuguese ancestry. Any ideas or secrets would be greatly appricated to continue a tradition of family favorites so they aren’t lost. Thank you Kim

    1. Hi Kim!

      Interesting idea…the filling without the crust. Can certainly see that working. I’ll have to try it in fact.

      The problem is that the bottom is burning before the top browns, correct? I can think of something you can try. First, try baking them on a rack (not a baking stone or anything like that) on a lower rack in the oven. that might help. Failing that, try using a lower oven to do the baking (about 400), then put them in the broiler to finish the top. That might not be traditional, strictly speaking, but it will probably work!

      Cheers and Merry Christmas!

      – Joe

  4. Opps I need to clarify they only gave instruction on the butter and flouring of the pan. Not the oven temp. I used a recipe from a Portugues cookbook.

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