Pasteis de Belém (Portuguese Custard Tarts)
If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know that I have been creating personal challenges to infuse new life into my cooking adventures. Even every day food should always be an adventure either with new ideas, or experimenting with a new cuisine. With these personally imposed challenges my own culinary skills have been rejuvenated and back on track and I am once again inspired. With this ongoing event I will challenge myself and one blogging friend at a time throughout the year as the seasons change. I hope this inspires you to make new friends in the blogging community as well as create something you have been itching to try.
Here are the "rules" as I see it for now.
1) Choose a dish to prepare and invite 1(one) blogger to create that dish with you. You can source your recipe from a cookbook, magazine, blog or any other source. Your dish can be sweet or savoury; easy or complicated.
2) Decide upon a date that you can both mutually post your recipe within a 4 week time frame.
3) Link back to More Than Burnt Toast http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/ somewhere in your post as the caretaker of this event.
4) Please feel free to use the Avatar/Badge above "Invite a Blogger to Your Table".
5) Once you have made your dish with your blogging friend or friends and posted it, you can choose to STOP or CONTINUE on and "invite another blogger to your table" to make something DIFFERENT on a mutually agreeable date within the next 4 week time frame.
6) If you would like to please e-mail Val at bloggerstable(AT)gmail(DOT)com for no other reason than to let her know you have participated. She would love to see what you have accomplished.
7) Cut and paste these instructions into your post and contact a friend. Let magic happen and let's get cooking!!!
For my first foodie challenge I invited one of my favourite bloggers I would love to share a kitchen with. I was hoping my enthusiasm would be contagious and I was ecstatic when she was on board. Her name is Valerie and my name is Valerie and we are newly dubbed the "Culinary Twins," for this post only, since we both live in Canada, are both passionate about food and up for a challenge.
For my first guest I chose Valerie of A Canadian Foodie because I love her experimental and inquisitive nature for trying something new, and then having us understand the process. In true Canadian Foodie style she rose to the challenge and did a play by play pictorial. Hop on over to her blog as she takes on the challenge of making Pastel de Belém. Valerie describes the tarts as "It is all about texture and mouth feel and tickling that deep inner pleasure seeking core eliciting that little sideways smile." It makes we wish I had even one left!!
Over the holidays I spent some time with L'il Burnt Toast's favourite family and had the extreme pleasure of trying many traditional Portuguese dishes like Churrasco Chicken cooked on an open fire pit in the middle of a Canadian winter, Portuguese Rice, Custard Puddings and Flan. I loved every one of these dishes and being the small eater I am I had small portions of each. When I tried the Portuguese Custard Tarts I knew I had to try to recreate them at home. The rest will come later.
The biggest hurdle to overcome in this recipe was the pastry since I am "pastry challenged." The next challenge (although mastered before) is to create a custard. You will read the results of these two challenges below.Truthfully it is not the first time I have ever tried these tarts. As a young teenager growing up in Cambridge, Ontario, and too young to go to the clubs without fake ID, we had a choice of what to do on a Saturday night and inevitably "my girls" and I would find ourselves at one of the clubs in town. Dancing would be at one of the Portuguese, Italian, Polish or Newfoundland clubs and we would mingle with the young gentlemen our age and their families. At the Portuguese Club there was always Codfish Cakes and Portuguese Tarts.
This particular recipe comes from David Leite of Leite's Culinaria. He says "The secrets to a crispy, flaky pastry is to make sure the butter is evenly layered, all excess flour is removed, and the dough is rolled very thinly and folded neatly. You will need a thermometer to accurately gauge the custard. These are best eaten warm the day they’re made. Because home ovens can’t match the heat of those at the bakery in Belém, where these treats were first made, your pastéis may not brown as much as those you have seen in photographs."
For a bit of history...
It is believed that pastéis de natas, as they are also called, were created before the 18th century by Catholic nuns at the Jerónimos Monastery of Belém in Lisbon. The Casa Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon was the first place outside the convent selling the original creamy dessert. After the monastery was closed in the 1820s, they became known as pastéis de Belém, after the name of the area and its famous bakery. Since 1837, locals have gone there to get them warm out of the oven and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. These are very popular, with tourists literally waiting hours for them.
Portuguese monasteries developed many sweet recipes based on egg yolks since the egg whites were demanded in large quantities both for starching clothes, such as nun habits, and also in wineries, in the clearing of wines, like Port, that required the use of egg white to remove the tannins. This left many leftover egg yolks. Lucky us!!!!! I hope you will give this recipe a try.
1) For the pastry challenged this pastry turned out very flaky and very similar to puff pastry. If you are short on time you could certainly use frozen puff pastry, but truthfully it simply does not compare in texture to this homemade crust. I was very proud of myself and would make this pastry again and again. It seems difficult but read the instructions over several times and it will turn out alright!
2) I used larger tins than the recipe called for so needed to adjust my baking time and increased it accordingly.
3) To try and duplicate that bakery look I finished them off under the broiler for a few moments.
4) If your custard does not seem thick enough cook briefly on the stove top over medium heat until it thickens slightly. It will of course cook more in the tart shells.
5) Your pastéis may not brown as much as those you have found in bakeries. I solved this problem, if you want to call it that, by finishing my tarts under the broiler for a few minutes to get a tan!
**Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pasteis de Belém)**
Alfama’s Pastéis de Nata
by David Leite of Leite's Culinaria
Adapted from a recipe by chef Francisco Rosa of Alfama
For the pastry
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth (1 cup = 16 tbsp = 250g = 8oz.=2 sticks)
For the custard
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk, divided
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 egg yolks, whisked
Make the dough
1. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft, pillowy dough forms that cleans the side of the bowl, about 30 seconds.
2. Generously flour a work surface and pat the dough into a 6-inch square using a pastry scraper as a guide. Flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
3. Roll the dough into an 18-inch square. As you work, use the scraper to lift the dough to make sure the underside isn’t sticking.
4. Brush excess flour off the top, trim any uneven edges, and using a small offset spatula dot and then spread the left two-thirds of the dough with a little less than one-third of the butter to within 1 inch of the edge.
5. Neatly fold over the unbuttered right third of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks), brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left third. Starting from the top, pat down the packet with your hand to release air bubbles, then pinch the edges closed. Brush off any excess flour.
6. Turn the dough packet 90 degrees to the left so the fold is facing you. Lift the packet and flour the work surface. Once again roll out to an 18-inch square, then dot and spread the left two-thirds of the dough with one-third of the butter, and fold the dough as in steps 4 and 5.
7. For the last rolling, turn the packet 90 degrees to the left and roll out the dough to an 18-by-21-inch rectangle, with the shorter side facing you. Spread the remaining butter over the entire surface.
8. Using the spatula as an aid, lift the edge closest to you and roll the dough away from you into a tight log, brushing the excess flour from the underside as you go. Trim the ends and cut the log in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Make the custard
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth. Set aside.
2. Bring the sugar, cinnamon, and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 220°F (100°C). Do not stir.
3. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture.
4. Pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream into the hot-milk-and-flour mixture, whisking briskly. Add the vanilla and stir for a minute until very warm but not hot. Whisk in the yolks, strain the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
5. Heat the oven to 550°F (290°C). Remove a pastry log from the refrigerator and roll it back and forth on a lightly floured surface until it’s about an inch in diameter and 16 inches long. Cut it into scant 3/4-inch pieces. Place a piece cut-side down in each well of a nonstick 12-cup mini-muffin pan (2-by-5/8-inch size). Allow the dough pieces to soften several minutes until pliable.
6. Have a small cup of water nearby. Dip your thumbs into the water, then straight down into the middle of the dough spiral. Flatten it against the bottom of the cup to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, then smooth the dough up the sides and create a raised lip about 1/8 inch above the pan. The pastry sides should be thinner than the bottom.
7. Fill each cup 3/4 full with the slightly warm custard. Bake until the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, about 8 to 9 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and allow the pastéis to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, then cinnamon and serve. Repeat with the remaining pastry and custard. If you prefer, the components can be refrigerated up to three days. The pastry can be frozen up to three months.
Makes 40 pastries
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.