Sunday, 11 March 2012

Portuguese custard tarts

I have wanted to make these for so long – probably dating back to before I started my blog in 2007! What took me so long? I can’t honestly say...but they were worth the wait!

The method for lining the pastry cases is unusual in that you roll the puff pastry up (swiss roll style), cut discs and then roll them out. Here are the three stages:

I have never been able to find an explanation as to why this is the traditional method – if anyone knows the reason then please share your knowledge! (NB. Having now made them, I think it might be so that the pastry rises like a cylinder to keep the custard contained, rather than the usual pillowy way puff rises)

This photo (above) shows how many layers of frilly puff pastry you get – it looks rather pretty!

The custard part of the recipe is more involved than a normal custard, but seeing as I didn’t make the pastry it seems almost churlish to complain (the only two pastries I will buy readymade are puff and filo).

The unusual part of the custard recipe is that it uses whipped egg whites as well as the yolk. I found this impossible to fold in to the liquid milky mixture and used my kitchenaid as it was the only way – this meant I ended up with frothy custard! Probably, this was why I couldn’t use all the custard in my pastry cases, so I ladled the leftovers into two bowls and baked them separately. Waste not want not!

It is lucky that this recipe made 24 tarts, because they are extremely addictive. Best eaten slightly warm so the custard retains some squidge; I could eat more of these than I’m happy to admit! One final comment; these don’t keep well (they need refrigerating and the pastry loses its crispness) so you’ll need to eat them on the day of baking...oh, the hardship!

Finally, I’d like to introduce my new kitchen assistant, Alfredo “Al” Dente. Here he is selecting the custard tart he wants!


600g puff pastry (I used 2 packs of pre-rolled, all butter puff pastry which amounted to just over 700g)
250g caster sugar
100ml water
1 tablespoon plain flour
500ml milk
6 egg yolks
2 egg whites
icing sugar and cinnamon to finish


If you have a block of puff pastry roll it out into a rectangle; mine was pre-rolled.

Roll it up along the long edge into a tight swiss roll shape.

Take the other sheet of pastry and continue rolling the same swiss roll i.e. so you end up with one, really fat roll of pastry.

Chill for 10 minutes.

Cut into 24 equal pieces and roll out a little flatter until they fill your cupcake pans or foil pie tins. The pastry will get sticky with handling so dust it with some plain flour.

Place in the fridge while you make the filling.

Mix the sugar and water and heat gently in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes – do this over a gentle heat so the sugar does not colour.

Place the flour and milk in a saucepan and bring it to the boil, whisking now and then to ensure the flour is not lumpy.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar syrup. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan oven 200°C/ 425°F/ gas mark 7.

When the milk mixture is cool whisk in the egg yolks

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites to firm peaks and then fold into the milk mixture. ( I couldn’t achieve this with a metal spoon so resorted to my kitchenaid – my custard went frothy – thinking about it, I think I should have sieved it to lessen the froth!)

Remove the pastry cases from the fridge and fill them with the custard.

Place any leftover custard in small oven proof bowls and bake after the custard tarts.

Bake the tarts for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the custard is turning dark brown in patches on the top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle with icing sugar or cinnamon and eat slightly warm.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

I love your baking assistant, also the layers are so pretty! These,look seriously yummy!

C said...

They look great - I've always wondered about making Portugese custard tarts, never had one though!

Gloria said...

I love portuguese tarts and these look amazing!! gloria

Dipika @ The Very Hungry Baker said...

Hello - I've been lurking for a while and this is my first comment!

These look AMAZING! I'm very intrigued by the method of rolling up the pastry and choppng it up, but it looks like it worked brilliantly.

I love recipes where you have to eat it all on the same day or risk baked goods-related doom :o)

Lisa Shannon said...

I can't believe it, I looked through your blog this morning for such a recipe and you have posted one just today!! amazing!! They look great, I used grated orange peel in my pastry this morning,yum. I will give this recipe ago soon.

Angela @lesgetbaking said...

I have always wondered about Portuguese custard tarts, so thanks for this. Am liking your new 'assistant' :-)

fallen from flavour said...

pastéis de nata have been the undoing of me - i just love them! that pastry of yours looks soooo purty. i do hope that signor al dente is a good and helpful assistant, and that he washed his hands before putting his mitts all over your lovely tarts!

Hazel - Chicken in a Cherry Sauce said...

Very interesting method! These look beautiful inside with all of those frilly layers. A very unique custard tart indeed!

Jo said...

I love the frilly pastry. I'm sure it was no problem polishing those off within a day!

Clare said...

They look delicious! I'm a big custard fan - I love the look of these!!

beti said...

wow they look simply delicious and with a perfect size!

Katie said...

These look lovely. Thanks for showing how to get the super flaky crust, I never knew how they did that. Yum!

morri said...

What a coincidence! My sister just got back from Lisbon bringing me a package of small custard tarts. I think they were a little less traditional than yours, as they were made with shortcrust pastry, instead of puff. I'll probably use this recipe to see how they measure up compared to homemade ones (or vice-versa).

thelittleloaf said...

I've never made custard tarts either but think you might have inspired me to give them a go! Love your little assistant there too :-)

Lauralovescakes said...

Oooo these look delicious...I've been wanting to make some for a long time and will get round to them sometime soon!! Can I borrow “Al” to help me? :-)

Cakelaw said...

Love these! Custard is one of my favourtie things n the whole world, so Portugese tarts are up my alley.

Maggie said...

I've never made Portuguese custard tarts but have always felt tempted - just the inspiration I need now after seeing yours.

Annes S said...

Ohh oh oh ooh these too have been on my to make list forever! I think they've not been made as wouldn't trust myself alone with them!

They look sooo good, love the frilly layers!

Cakeyboi said...

Yummo - going to Albufeira next month - must try the original ones and then will give yours a try - apparently Portugal is renowned for it's desserts- but never checked them out before...