Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pastéis de Nata - Portuguese for "my day has just gotten better"!

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Pastéis de Nata - Portuguese for "my day has just gotten better"!
This week, I paid a visit to the Christmas fair lining the river banks in the lovely town of Westport, Co. Mayo. Even if I hadn’t read the signs, my nose could have found it, such were the gorgeous aromas coming from the hot food stalls. My tastebuds were mugged by a hotdog stand with a range of interesting sausages on offer – for me it had to be the lamb and rosemary sausage – my compliments to Kelly’s of Newport – delicious! I nearly cried when a passerby jogged my arm and the last bite ended up on the ground - the last bite is the best bit :(

Yum, those cupcakes look fairy, fairy delicious!
There were more cupcakes than you could shake a stick at – some simple, some with little personalities of their own. I was very tempted to have these for dessert but I’d been to Sinead Lambert and Jose Barroso's Sol Rio café in Bridge Street once before and needed one of their hot chocolates. Ok, the hot chocolate was just an excuse – the real reason was that I had developed an instant addiction to their famous Pastéis de Nata – creamy Portuguese custard tarts in a puff pastry that manages to be crisp and chewy at the same time – and it was time for another hit.

Sol Rio - a friendly welcome and great food - and don't just take my word for it,
they've a gazillion plaques on the wall, underscoring their foodie credentials
 Amy, our lovely waitress, promised me the recipe and it duly arrived in my inbox. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the recipe for the domestic cook and adding the traditional method of moulding the pastry shell.

For 12 highly addictive Pastéis de Nata you will need...
Puff Pastry
500g cream flour
250mls water                   
pinch of salt                    
500g butter, softened and divided into 4 equal portions

1.         To make the puff pastry: In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, water and salt until it comes together in a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick.
2.         Spread one portion of softened butter over the pastry, leaving a margin about a finger’s width all round. Fold the bottom third of the pastry in towards the centre, then fold the remaining third in to make a neat parcel. Brush off any excess flour and give the pastry a quarter turn. 
3.         Repeat step 2 until you have used up all the butter, making sure that every time you give the pastry a quarter turn that you are going in the same direction – helps give maximum rise.
4.         Once you have incorporated all the butter, refrigerate the pastry while you make the filling.

Custard Filling
250mls cream
zest of half a lemon – in strips rather than grated  
160g caster sugar
25g butter
25g corn flour
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg

5.         To make the filling: place the cream and the lemon zest a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
6.         Meanwhile place the sugar, butter and corn flour in a heatproof mixing bowl.
7.         When the cream has come to the boil, strain it into the mixing bowl, stirring to combine the ingredients. Turn the heat right down and transfer the mixture back into the saucepan.
8.         In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the whole egg. Slowly add half the cream mixture to the eggs, whisking all the time (warning: if you add the cold eggs to the hot cream you’ll get sweet scrambled eggs - bleagh!).
9.         When you have combined approximately half the hot cream with the eggs, add this mixture to the remaining hot cream, whisking until well combined. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Refrigerate until ready to assemble and cook the Pastéis.

Sunrise in pastry form...
Pastéis de Nata

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C

10.       To assemble the Pastéis: remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out into a rectangle about ½cm thick (¼ inch) thick.  With the long side nearest you, roll the pastry into a tight sausage. Using a sharp non-serrated knife, cut into 12 even slices and place, cut side down, in a 12-hole muffin tin (no need to butter the tin – the pastry has enough fat to stop it sticking). Using your thumbs, press the pastry out to line the tin, starting in the middle and working it up the sides. The pastry should be slightly thicker at the top.
11.       Fill with the cooled custard mixture, leaving a gap of about 1cm (½ inch) at the top. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until a nice golden brown on top. Decorate with icing sugar or cinnamon. Finally, make sure to invite people over or you will probably end up scoffing the lot yourself!
Ooops... couldn't resist!

Disclosure: I paid for every morsel I consumed in Sol Rio and I received no incentive to share this recipe, other than the fact that they are utterly delicious and you need to try them for yourself.
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  1. With a name like that, I sure could go for one of those today! I love custard, those look delicious, like a little bite of heaven.

  2. You must have great negotiating skills to have gotten this restaurant to give up their awesome recipe! It does look like a winner. After having food knocked right out of your hand, I am sure these tarts were a welcome treat. Great post.

  3. Oooh, that looks amazing! I haven’t had custard in too long, and how better to serve it than in puff pastry! I def. need my day to improve…

  4. My day would improve with one of these too! Puff pastry with custard filling=delicious!

  5. Oh, what fabulous custard tarts! So glad you worked your charm and shared them with us!

  6. This looks delicious! How nice that they followed up and sent the recipe to you!

  7. Oh, Hester - you are so lucky to have that café so near: I'd eat them out of their stock no problem since I adore these pastries. First discovered them in Portugal and have a Portuguese friend who gave me her recipe. It's so worth the effort to make them, as they're divine. AND they use all these egg yolks for making macarons, hehee! I LOVE your phrase, "my tastebuds were mugged by..." Wonderful.

  8. HAHAHAHAH! I'm sorry. I HAD to tweet your 'My tastebuds were mugged by a hotdog stand' line. That was laughing-induced-OJ-spewable this morning. Phew.

    And I cannot believe you let that jogger go unpunished. Had it been me, there may have been some assaulting.

    Love the custard, thanks for getting the recipe!

  9. Love the name! I would imagine these would improve any ones day :)

  10. these are my fav! thank you for sharing this.

  11. You have the recipe for Portuguese egg tart! That's how Chinese call it and it costs extra for Portuguese ones compared to regular Chinese egg tart. Of course I like good one so I pay extra to get Portuguese egg tarts... yum! In Taiwan (where I am right now) we can get these in all the dim sum places and I go to dim sum place for these (I like dim sum dumplings but I truly go for these). THANK YOU for the recipe. So happy~~!!

  12. They look amazing and oh I love custard...

  13. Unbelievable! This looks so so so good!

  14. I love this recipe but I'm not sure I even know what cream flour is.

  15. @ Giz - According to Odlums, manufacturers of cream flour, it has a low level of raising agents. However, I use it as I would use plain flour.

  16. I commend you for making puff pastry homemade! These look absolutely delicious, I will definitely have to try this recipe soon.


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