Pastel de nata, also known as Portuguese egg tart, is one of Portugal’s most iconic desserts. This small pastry cake has captured the hearts and taste buds of foodies all over the world with its distinctive sweet taste and unique texture. From its crispy, layered outer surface to its smooth and rich custard cream filling, pastel de nata offers the perfect combination of flakiness and softness in every bite. Its seductive sweet fragrance and melt-in-the-mouth taste make it a dish that is hard to forget.

Pastel de nata

In this article, we’ll explore the history of pastel de nata, uncovering its roots rooted in Portugal’s ancient monasteries and how its traditional recipe was passed down from generation to generation. We will also discuss the main ingredients needed to make this dish, including egg yolks, sugar, milk and high-quality puff pastry. In addition, this article will present detailed steps for making pastel de nata at your own home, from dough preparation to the perfect baking process. With this guide, you can bring the authentic flavors of Portugal into your kitchen and enjoy delicious pastel de nata any time.

History of Pastel de Nata: Portugal’s Culinary Heritage

Before we dive into how to make pastel de nata, let’s take a moment to look at the history behind this iconic dish. Pastel de nata is said to have originated in the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon’s Belém district, in the 18th century. In those days, monks often used egg whites to iron clothes, leaving much of the yolk unused. To avoid waste, the monks began experimenting with these egg yolks, creating various desserts including

After Portugal’s Liberal revolution in 1820, many monasteries and convents were closed. To survive, some monks started selling pastels de nata in shops adjacent to the monastery. The original recipe remains a closely guarded secret, passed down from generation to generation. To this day, the Pastéis de Belém pastry shop in Lisbon, founded in 1837, still uses the original recipe given to it by the monks and is a popular culinary tourism destination.

Over time, the popularity of pastel de nata spread throughout Portugal and eventually the world, especially to Portugal’s former colonies such as Macau and Brazil. Today, you can find variations different countries, each with its own unique touch.

Ingredients for Making

Before we start making pastel de nata, let’s prepare the necessary ingredients. This recipe will make about 12 pastels de nata.
For pastry dough:

  • 250 grams of all-purpose wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 180 grams of cold water
  • 190 grams unsalted butter, cooled and cut into cubes

For the custard filling:

  • 250 ml full cream milk
  • 200 grams of granulated sugar
  • 100 ml of water
  • Lemon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50 grams of wheat flour
  • 4 egg yolks

Steps to

Now, let’s start the process of making pastel de nata. Follow these steps carefully for best results.

Make Pastry Dough

1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir well.

2. Add cold water little by little while mixing with a fork or your hands until the dough starts to come together.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough is smooth. Don’t knead too much as this can make the pastry tough.

4. Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

5. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle.

6. Place the cubed cold butter on top of two thirds of the dough, leaving one third empty.

7. Fold the part without the butter over the butter, then fold the other third of the part over the top. You now have a rectangle with three layers.

8. Turn the dough 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle again. Repeat this folding process two more times.

9. After the final folding, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.

Make the Custard Filling

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, mix together milk, sugar, water, lemon zest, and cinnamon. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has fully dissolved.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the flour with a little cold milk until it forms a smooth paste without lumps.

3. When the milk mixture starts to boil, turn off the heat and let it cool for a while.

4. Once the milk mixture is cool enough to handle (still warm but not hot), throw in the lemon zest and cinnamon.

5. Add the flour paste to the milk mixture, stir well. Turn the heat back on to low temperature and cook while continuing to stir until the custard thickens.

6. Turn off the heat and let the custard cool to room temperature.

7. Once cool, add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Make sure to stir quickly so the egg yolks don’t cook.

8. Strain the custard to ensure the texture is smooth and free of lumps. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble and Bake

1. Preheat oven to 250°C (480°F). If you have a pizza stone or baking steel, place it on the middle rack of the oven while it preheats.

2. Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a long roll with a diameter of about 4 cm.

3. Cut the roll into 12 equal pieces.

4. Place a piece of dough with the cut side facing upwards. Press with your thumb from the center outward to form a small cup.

5. Place the formed dough into the muffin mold. Use your thumbs to press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the mold, forming a cup. Make sure the dough is very thin on the bottom and sides.

6. Repeat this process for all the dough pieces.

7. Fill each pastry cup with custard almost to the top, about 3/4 of the way to the top.

8. Bake the pastel de nata in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the custard has dark brown spots on top.

9. Once cooked, remove from the oven and let cool in the mold for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

10. Serve pastel de nata warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with cinnamon powder or powdered sugar if desired.

Tips for Making Perfect

Making the perfect pastel de nata may take a little practice, but with some of these tips, you can improve your results:

1. Make sure all ingredients are cold when making pastry dough. This will aid in forming crunchy textures.

2. Don’t knead the pastry dough too much because this can develop gluten and make the pastry tough.

3. Let the pastry dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. This will make the dough easier to handle and produce a crispier pastry.

4. When making custard, make sure to stir constantly to avoid lumps forming.

5. Strain the custard before adding the egg yolks to ensure a smooth texture.

6. Preheat the oven to a very high temperature. This is important to create the characteristic caramelization on the surface of the custard.

7. Don’t bake the pastel de nata for too long. You want the custard to remain soft and creamy on the inside.

8. Let the pastel de nata cool briefly before eating it to avoid burns from the hot custard.

Pastel de Nata Variations

Although the traditional pastel de nata recipe remains a favorite, there are some interesting variations you can try:

1. Chocolate Pastel de Nata: Add cocoa powder to the custard for a touch of chocolate flavor.

2. Pastel de Nata Matcha: Mix matcha powder into custard for a unique green tea flavor.

3. Pastel de Nata Fruit: Add small pieces of fruit such as blueberries or raspberries to the custard before baking.

4. Pastel de Nata Kopi: Add a splash of espresso or strong coffee to the custard for a delicious coffee taste.

5. Gluten-Free Pastel de Nata: Use a gluten-free flour blend to make a version suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

How to Serve and Enjoy

best enjoyed fresh from the oven, when the pastry is still crispy and the custard is still warm. However, they are also delicious at room temperature. Here are some suggestions for serving and enjoying pastel de nata:

  • Sprinkle with cinnamon powder or powdered sugar before serving for an added touch of sweetness.
  • Serve with a cup of espresso or cappuccino for an authentic Portuguese cafe experience.
  • For brunch, serve pastel de nata along with fresh fruit and yogurt.
  • In the summer, try serving pastel de nata with a glass of chilled port or sangria for a refreshing combination.
  • For a party, make mini pastels de nata using small tart molds for an easy to eat dessert.

testament to Portugal’s rich culinary heritage. With its unique mix of crunchy pastry and soft, sweet custard, it’s no surprise that this dish has become a favorite around the world. While making pastel de nata may take a little practice and patience, the results are well worth the effort.

By following the recipes and tips provided in this article, you can bring a little taste of Portugal into your own kitchen. Whether you’re a die- and want to enjoy it any time, or just want to try something new and interesting, making pastel de nata at home can be a fun and satisfying experience.

So, why not try making your own batch of pastel de nata? With a little practice, you might find yourself making pastels de nata that can compete with the best pastry shops in Lisbon. Good luck and enjoy your creations!