Pastéis de Belém

Maybe you’ve heard of these addicting world famous little Portuguese egg custard tarts..

If not..

Well. You’re missing out.

A flaky, buttery crust, delicate creamy custard with a characteristically rustic charred top  that is typically dusted in a thin layer of icing sugar and cinnamon. Served warm.

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I went to Portugal for 1 month in July of 2014 for a student exchange trip with 5 other lucky people from our Culinary Arts Program at NAIT. We traveled around Portugal as beautifully spoiled tourists for three weeks and each did a stage at separate restaurants/hotels for one week. Pretty good deal.

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An awesome opportunity both personally and professionally. We were treated like superstars with drivers/tour guides (who felt like family after the month), tours to wine cellars, vineyards, art galleries, a sea salt producer, an olive oil producer, a coffee factory/museum, historical sites, castles, and culinary schools (went to three! All very different).

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Also wine tastings…Lots of wine tastings. Before Portugal I did not like wine..

Three hour long dinners in the late evening (nine pm usually) full of various small courses with wine and all ending with desserts, espresso and chats.

 

 

Every where we visited from the North to the South of Portugal, Pasteis de Nata was a proudly evident dessert and tightly grasped secret recipe as a staple Portuguese dessert item.

When we arrived in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, our BFF “tour” guides took us on a special trip to the district of Belem just outside of Lisbon, where we were introduced to the adorable bakeshop where the tarts originated in 1837.

 

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This pretty little bakery was the origin of Pasteis de Nata and held the top secret family formula that has been passed down for four generations and is still famously known and redone around the world.  But only the tarts made at Antig Confeitaria de Belem can be called Pasteis de Belem, they are otherwise known as Pasteis de Nata.

Here is a brief history video as well as a look at the bakery cafe where they are made.

 

Each day they pop out about 10 000 of these pastries and there is a window while inside the cafe that lets you see the production area.

 

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With lines up and down the street on a typical day, it is still definitely worth the wait.

Went in to try one. Ending up buying six…for myself.

 

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It is baked in a oven that blasts up to 800 F for these little guys, or to make at home try and reach 550 F. They are not as easy as they look to make, with many variations on how it is done. I tried making my own of these and they turned not too bad but not nearly as good as the original. Of course.

Also my oven definitely doesn’t go up to 800 F to get the proper bake.

While at a tour in Portugal we went to a school in Lisbon where we watched as they prepared their version of this special tart for us.

And I got the recipe!

 

Pasteis de Nata

Masa Folhada – Puff Pastry

  • Bread FLour 55% – 1 kg
  • Water – 600 ml
  • Butter – 800g

Calda Da Acucar – Sugar Syrup

  • White Sugar – 1 kg
  • Water, room temp – 500ml
  • Lemon Peel – To taste or 1 lemon
  • Cinnamon Stick – 1

Creme

  • 1/2 and 1/2 Milk – 1L
  • Bread Flour – 55% – 150g
  • Maize Flour – 35g

Egg Mixture

  • Egg Yolks – 11
  • Whole Egg – 1

Directions

Puff Dough

(I don’t have great notes on how they made the puff dough!)

  1. Give 2 turns, brush with water after rolling out. 3/4 inch thick. Don’t chill.
  2. Cut little strips and roll up into a spiral and place in small  muffin tin molds. (They have special little tins made especially for these tarts in Portugal!)
  3. Wet thumb and with one smooth movement, press inside the spiral and spread the dough to the edges of the mold. Set aside.

(This picture doesn’t show how the dough was a little spiral that they placed inside then spread apart)

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Custard Filling

  1. Whisk flour and milk until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Bring sugar syrup to 100 C.
  3. Remove cinnamon stick and peel and  pour a thin stream, while whisking into the flour and milk mixture.
  4. Temper in the egg mixture. Strain, and set aside.

 

Baking

  1. Set oven to 550 F.
  2. Fill each pastry cup 3/4 full with the warm filling.
  3. Bake 8- 9 minutes until the tops are brown and slightly blackened. Cool slightly.
  4. EAT.

 

Serve with Port wine or coffee, a light dusting of icing sugar and or cinnamon while warm.

*Don’t get them at TNT, pastry is all wrong! Try Popular Bakery on 118th street to get the most authentic taste in Edmonton!

Happy Baking!

 

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Spencer

 

 

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