Pastéis de Nata I | Portuguese Custard Tarts

The secrets to a crispy, flaky pastry are to make sure the butter is evenly layered, all excess flour is removed, and the dough is rolled very thin and folded neatly. You will need a thermometer to accurately gauge the custard. These are best eaten warm the day they’re made.

Note: Because home ovens can’t match the heat of those at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, where these treats were first made, your pasteis may not brown as much as those in the picture.–David Leite

Special Equipment: a mini-muffin tin with 2-by 5/8-inch wells

Portuguese Pasteis de Nata Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 2 H, 30 M
  • Makes about 40 pastries

Ingredients

  • For the dough
  • 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
  • For the custard
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, whisked
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cinnamon

Directions

  • 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
  • 9. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth. Set aside.
  • 10. 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.
  • 11. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture.
  • 12. Remove the cinnamon stick then 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.
  • Assemble and bake the pastries
  • 13. 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.
  • 14. 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.
  • 15. Fill each cup 3/4 full with the slightly warm custard. Bake the pasteis until the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, about 8 to 9 minutes.
  • 16. Remove from the oven and allow the pasteis to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle the pasteis 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.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Ivan Couvert says:

    This recipe is the real deal and not too complicated. They taste exactly like the ones served up at the Lisboa Patisserie in Notting Hill, London. My only observation is that based on a standard sized muffin tin you’ll only get 24, otherwise great!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Ivan, the recipe calls for mini-muffin tins. So if you used a standard size, I think you’d get about 20 or so. You’d also need to bake them longer, too,

    • John Pereira says:

      I am super excited to try these. What changes would I need to make if I wanted to make the full size versions? I assume the filling recipe would remain the same but the size of the pastry log would have to be altered, as would the baking time. Would you be able to tell me what these changes would be?

      Thank you so much for your time.

      • David Leite says:

        Hi, John. It really depends on what “full size” means. Will you be using the pastéis tins that they use in Portugal or a muffin tin? What I would do is cut a wider slice from the dough log. Press the slice in the tin/muffin tin as specified in the recipe. You want it to come all the way up the sides and extend beyond the top lip by 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch. Once you know how much dough you’ll need to do that, cut the remaining slices the same size. You’ll have to bake the pastries longer; again that has to do with how much larger your tins are. I would check every 2 minutes or so after the initial 8 minutes. They should be just cooked through; they’ll continue cooking as they cool. Hope this helps.

        • John Pereira says:

          Thank you for the quick reply. I apologize for not being clear; however, I was referring to regular muffin tins. I would love to have the proper pastéis tins and will look for them in the near future. I will definitely experiment with the width of the pieces cut from the dough log and keep an eye on the time.

          Time permitting, I’ll attempt to make these on the weekend and report back!

          • David Leite says:

            Hi John. With a regular muffin tin, you don’t want to go all the way up the sides, as it makes the pastéis too big. Go a little more than halfway up. Now, if your tin is nonstick, it will be hard to prevent it from sliding down as it bakes and the custard spilling out. As far a baking, I’d try 10 minutes and then check it.

            • John Pereira says:

              Thanks again for the tips! Sorry, forgot to ask earlier…

              When I roll out the pastry log, should it still remain an inch in diameter and 16 inches long or should it be slightly thicker than an inch (perhaps 1.25 inches) since the regular muffin tins have a wider base than the mini ones? Not sure if that makes any sense.

              I am pretty much a beginner so please excuse what might seem like a dumb question but they actually sell muffin tins that don’t have the nonstick surface? I assumed they were all nonstick.

              • David Leite says:

                John, not a problem. All you need to do is cut the log in to wider slices. That will give you enough dough to work with.

                Older muffin tins are no stick. The mini tins I use are nonstick, but the wells are so small, I can kind of anchor them to the rim.

                My suggestion for success is to bake off 2 or 3 of them as a test. Then make any adjustment you need in the size of the slice and cooking time.

                • John Pereira says:

                  David, you have been a tremendous help. Thank you for your patience and taking the time to answer all my questions. I truly appreciate it.

  2. Mariana says:

    Hi David Leite,

    By any chance is you book translated in to Portuguese?
    I would love to have it.

    Thank You

    Mariana

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Mariana, no the book is only in English at the moment. I don’t think they are plans to translate it.

      • simoneti masterson says:

        Hi Ivan,
        I can translate to Portuguese for you if you need. Just send material. I will love to cooperate. No charges at all.
        Happy Thanksgiving

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          If that isn’t the Thanksgiving spirit, Simoneti, I don’t know what is. Many thanks…

  3. Carl Jackson says:

    Hi David,
    I’ve loved these lil treasures from a few years ago when travelling in Portugal.

    Thanks for this recipe I’ll be trying these out this weekend.

    Cheers Carl

  4. Grace says:

    David I would like to make these for my niece’s bridal shower next week. I was hoping to make them today and freeze and remove them from the freezer the evening before he shower or the morning of. Is this possible with this type of pastry. I have too many last minute things to do the day of and the day before to make them then. The groom is portuguese and I know these are his favourite.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Grace. I think the custard and the pastry would suffer. What you can do is make the pastry and fill the tins. Cover those really, really well and freeze them. The day before, make the custard. then the day of you can simply ladle the custard in the pastry and bake them off. You might need a few extra minutes because everything is cold. I hope this helps, and give my best wishes to the happy couple!

  5. Joanna says:

    Hi I have a copy of your new book which is so beautiful and I can’t wait to make some of the recipes. You were recommended by a baker in Derbyshire for your pasteis recipe. I haven’t had them since I moved from London where I used to get them at Lisboa. I am terrible at pastry but for these I will try…. anyway I am just about to have a go at your tarts and I realise it’s all in cups. I can convert butter easily but I always have difficulty being accurate converting flour to grams, would you be able to tell me what 1 cup of your all purpose flour weighs and then I can manage to convert the rest myself. Best wishes, Joanna

    • David Leite says:

      Joanna, best of luck with the pastéis! One cup of all-purpose flour weighs approximately 125 grams. Here’s a neat conversion table for all types of flours.

      • Tim says:

        Hi Mr. Leite,

        Thank you for your receipe of Portuguese Custard which I found yesterday. I could not wait too long to try it for my family, so I tried to make the dough about 20 minutes ago. I found something strange, and please help me. When I mixed the all-purpose flour with the water (as your recipe suggested), the dough was very sticky. Too much water I think. What can I do now? Thank you in advance.

        • David Leite says:

          Tom, thanks for writing. All of your math is correct, but you have discovered why so few cookbooks that are converted from U.S. amounts to metric or metric to U.S. amounts work. When I was living in Portugal, it was very hard to convert successfully because ingredients act differently, especially flour. I found that it either absorbed more or less water than my recipes made in the U.S.

          So my suggestion is to add enough flour to make the dough just slightly tacky, but not sticky. The filling should be okay.

  6. Joanna says:

    That’s really helpful David, thanks so much!

  7. Lori says:

    My parents came to visit this week, and so I made your tarts thinking my father would like them. The expression on his face spoke volumes which he proceeded to tell my children…how his mother made custard pie in her cast iron skillet. She gave her cast iron skillet to me before she died because I loved to watch her cook in it, but I can’t imagine making the pie in it! She did not have many pans during the depression, so that may be the reason, but I was surprised by his story and wondered how I would keep my crust from sinking to the bottom, the sides are pretty straight. His mother was Spanish and married his father who was italian–so maybe his memories are off a little, he is 77, but I would love to make it for him. Do you think this would work, or should I just stick to the tarts? Either way, thank you for a wonderful dessert and stimulating great memories and family conversation.

    • David Leite says:

      Hello, Lori. For this recipe I would stick to the tarts. The dough is similar to a puff pastry and would most likely shrink back into the pan. There are many, many recipes for custard pies in cookbook and on the Internet. I’d do a little research, making sure the crust is a classic pie crust, not a puff pastry crust, and I think you might touch your father’s heart.

  8. Minh says:

    Thank you for your recipe. I just wonder when I baked the tarts, they were shrinking down and the custard spilling out. Are you able to tell me why?

    • David Leite says:

      Minh, if the dough hasn’t had enough time to rest (to relax the gluten), hasn’t been chilled properly, or is worked too much while pushing up the sides of the pan it can shrink.

  9. Hannah says:

    Hi David! I was wondering where I could buy the special 1/3 cup forms to make these (I live in Australia so is there some place online I could order from? I have never seen them here). I have your book and I just love it. It is sometimes hard to get the ingredients here (i.e. salt cod) but it’s always worth it. :)

    • David Leite says:

      Hannah, there is a place called Tucha Gifts on Ferry St. in Newark, NJ. That’s where I get mine. I don’t know if they will ship to Australia. I have never found a place online that sells them.

  10. Catarina says:

    David, Hello. Thank you for being so generous with your time to share all of these wonderful recipes with us. I’m Portuguese, but raised here in the US. Can I use phyllo dough for the crust?

    Muito obrigado

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Catarina, you can use phyllo, but it won’t be the same. If you want to use a packaged product for the crust, buy a premium puff pastry.

  11. David Leite says:

    Michael, that photo is of the Confeitaria de Belém’s famous tarts. It’s not as easy to get the spots on the tarts at home, because our ovens max out at 550°F. Their ovens are similar to pizza ovens, and reach a temperature of 800°F–or so they say.

    I would try starting the tarts on the middle rack and then switching them to the very top position for the last several minutes of baking. The top of the oven is always the hottest. Some people turn on the broiler for a minute or so at the end of baking. But you have to be careful that the edges of the pastry don’t burn.

    • Kathleen says:

      Hi David – I’ve been making these with your recipe since returning from a trip to Portugal a few years ago. They may be my favorite dessert ever. Thank you for the wonderful recipe.

      I just made a double batch in normal-size muffin cups over the weekend, and everything turned out fine. But I was trying for those “Belem spots” on the top by putting the try under the broiler for a couple of minute at the end. Unfortunately, the pastry started to get too brown before the custard even started to color. However, I thought of another idea to run by you — I’ve been cooking bread and pizza in the barbecue for years with great success with a thick pizza stone (homemade with firebrick). The BBQ easily gets up to 700+ degrees. I realize the bottoms of the pasteis could easily burn, but, in the past, I’ve circumvented this issue baking other items in the BBQ by putting that thick pizza stone on at the same time as the baked goods. Have you ever tried something of the sort?

      Kathleen

      • David Leite says:

        Kathleen, I haven’t tried that, but it’s worth a shot. Where I thought you were going was to use a kitchen torch, similar to the torches used for crême brulée. My only concern with your method is how cooked the bottoms will be, as, unlike bread, the pastéis cook for so little time. Will you give it a try and report back to us?

        • Kathleen says:

          Will do, David. I was wondering about the bottoms myself. For bread, I preheat the stone for 15 minutes with all 3 burners and the searing station on high, but boy does that crust turn out nice. Guess I’ll just have to suffer through eating multiple batches so I can experiment with exactly when to put the bread stone on! I’ll let you know how it goes. Obrigada!

  12. bob says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I had tried a recipe that was a distillation of several videos I saw on YouTube. I did find something that tasted quite good but my problem was that by the time things were browning, the custard filling had boiled over and made a mess. Actually the first batch was looking good after around 9 or 10 minutes but the recipe said 20…yours is just what I suspected, very hot to brown the top and cook the dough before the filling gets too hot. (That and larger tins than the muffin pan I was forced to use.) This looks just right and makes perfect sense.

  13. Maria says:

    David,

    I am so excited to try this recipe. I was born and raised in Newark, NJ. I grew up with these but have never made them myself.
    Quick question for you, I have some puff pastry in the freezer still can I use this instead of making the dough from scratch?

    Thanks in advance!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Maria, you can use puff pastry from the freezer, but it has to prepared in a very different way or all the filling will spill as the pastry bubbles up. In my cookbook I have a recipe specifically designed for frozen puff pastry. If you don’t have it, pick it up or check it out of the libary. It’s the longest recipe in the book, but it’s worth it!

  14. Kathleen says:

    Hi David -

    This recipe is fantastic. Thank you! After visiting Belem earlier this year and gorging on pastries, I’ve been trying to replicate them at home. First few recipes I tried, which called for puff pastry, were disappointing. I’ve made yours twice already and my pasteis were perfect both times. I was reluctant to try making my own dough, but it worked out so well, I may never go back to puff pastry for any tart. With credits to both you and Mr. Rosa, would it be okay to repost your recipe on my blog?

    • David Leite says:

      Kathleen,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe and it worked out for you! I love this little gems.

  15. Charlie VB says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this recipe.

    I have two questions:

    1) Does the pastry cook sufficiently considering you are not blind baking, which is what i see many other recipes calling for?

    2) You don’t clarify what happens with the cinnamon stick, you simply say:

    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.
    Pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream into the hot-milk-and-flour mixture, whisking briskly

    Do you take out the cinnamon stick just before pouring syrup into milk/flour mixture. Can you use powdered cinnamon instead? If so, how much?

    Thanks

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Charles,

      1. Because the tart are mini–less than half the size of the original–the custard is sufficiently cooked.

      2. Good catch. The cinnamon is removed before you pour the hot sugar syrup into the milk mixture. I’ve fixed it above.

      I have never used anything but stick cinnamon (cassia), which can be used over and over again, so I can’t accurately tell you how much ground cinnamon to use. I’d start with a small amount, say 1/8 a teaspoon, and work up from there.

      I hope this helps.

  16. Mark says:

    Wow I was just trying to describe the little Portuguese custards I had when i visited Hamburg in ’06 and then i saw a link to them and wound up here. These were so popular in Hamburg that the Portuguese family bakery had to open up 3 bakeries right next to each other just to try to keep up with demand. I can’t wait to make these at home. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  17. Ashlee says:

    I’ve been looking for a good recipe like this for a long time!! One problem though, the custard I made was very runny–even when cooked. I triple checked the quantities, and Im still confused. Did I not cook the syrup long enough? Not sure.

    • David Leite says:

      Ashlee, the custard is indeed thin after adding the syrup and when putting it in the pasty shells, but it firms up in the oven. Was it runny after the pastries came out of the oven? Also, are you using the precise size molds specified in the recipe? A larger muffin tin, or even the tins from Portugal, are too big for this recipe.

  18. Hello and I cant wait to try these!!! Now if I used puffed pasty would it be the same?? And can you make a video on the dough rolling!! Thank you…
    Natalie

    • David Leite says:

      Natalie, commercial puff pastry won’t work for this method. If you want to use it, it’s best to cut a circle of the dough just slightly larger than the total diameter of the sides plus the bottom of the wells in your muffin tin. Prick the circles all over with a fork, fit them into the tins, then fill them with the custard.

      As far as a video, that’s a great idea. Perhaps after the holidays.

  19. Cheryl Balmas says:

    Just wondering why you have to strain the mixture into a bowl after adding the egg yolks and do you use a regular strainer or cheese cloth? What are you straining or ‘removing’? I may have missed something. I want to try making these for my mom who is Portuguese. I am no baker and am nervous about the dough but will try and willing to try again until I get it right! Thank you!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Cheryl. Don’t be nervous! Just have faith and plunge forward. You strain the mixture because sometimes if you adds the yolks and the mixture is too hot, you might end up with tiny bits of cooked eggs in the custard. This makes sure that even if you do, they’re strained out. Any fine strainer works well.

  20. Desiree says:

    David: I tried your recipe for the first time this evening. It was a difficult recipe but I managed. I wanted to say that I am deeply pleased. My grandmother Ramona died twenty-five years ago and I did not have her recipe. I have tried many and this is the first time I tasted one like hers. It took my breath away. Thank you for giving me a piece of my past back to me. Just to let you know I topped mine with fresh blueberries and strawberries and crema. To die for!

    • David Leite says:

      Desiree, nothing makes me happier! To hear that you retrieved a bit of your past is exactly why I started writing about food, and initially Portuguese food. Unlike you, I could never find (and still haven’t found) recipes that comes close to some childhood favorites of my avó Costa.

      I agree, the recipe isn’t a snap–but in the end you discovered what I did: it’s a small price to pay to have your grandmother back in the kitchen with you.

  21. Sandi says:

    David, I was born and raised in the Ironbound section of Newark. Moved away about 18 years ago and really miss these little custard cups. Can’t wait to try your recipe. I still have family living in Neward so I’m going to pay them a visit and pick up the pastry tins. Thanks so much for your recipe. They also make a lemon version that I’ve had, have your ever made it and if so can you share that recipe as well.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Sandi. If you go to Newark, visit Tucha Gifts–they have the tins. The original confeitaria only serves the plain custard, from what I remember. I do know you can get different flavors at Texeira’s bakery in Newark. Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for the lemon, but I think it would be a matter of just adding some lemon zest to the cooking custard, then straining it out.

  22. Mimi says:

    I was wondering if the milk is whole milk or just regular 2%. Thank you for posting this recipe!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Mimi. It’s whole milk. The dessert needs the fat for the proper setting of the custard. Enjoy!

  23. Brock says:

    Muito obrigado! Foi otimo! Huge thanks, these were awesome! After 20 years of missing these little beauties it’s amazing how making these takes me back to a different time and place!

    Great job, thanks!

  24. Tia says:

    Hi David

    I came across your recipe lat last night and i’m so excited to try these out today, I live in London, England and was very upset when my favourite restaurant ran out last night so I vowed to try and bake my own!! I’ve never made my own dough as its always been easier to buy ready made in the supermarkets. My question is, is it better to make the dough on a marble board as my counter top is not stone?

    Thanks!

    • David Leite says:

      Hello, Tia. I’ve made the dough on marble, granite, and butcher block, so I don’t think it matters. The dough differs a bit from classic French puff pastry, as the butter is room temp, so keeping it cold while making it isn’t as crucial as keeping it cold after the dough is formed into a log. Hope this helps.

  25. Audrie says:

    David, I want to try to make this. I have a pretty packed schedule. So can I make the pastry dough first, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate it for 2 nights? Then after 2 nights, I’ll make the custard and bake them on the same day. Is it possible?

    Thank you :)

    • David Leite says:

      Audrie, you absolutely can keep the dough in the fridge. You want it as cold as possible when you start shaping it.

  26. Peter Pienkowski says:

    This is the only puff pastry recipe I know of that uses an almost 1:1 ratio of flour to water. I don’t know if this is a Portuguese thing or unique to these pasteis, however, there are many different puff pastry recipes that are much easier to work with. Most puff pastries contain water at roughly 55-60% of the flour total (that’s a baker’s percentage). It will make for a much less sticky dough and eliminate the need to so generously flour the rolling surface.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Peter. I got this recipe from a Portuguese baker, who got it from his predecessor–both of whom are from Portugal. It’s absolutely a different dough from traditional puff pastry. And it’s the only puff dough I know of that uses room temp butter. I’m not a math genius, but according to my calculations, the water is 47% volume as compared to the flour (14 tablespoons of water to 30 tablespoons of flour.) It’s not a 1:1 ratio, but almost a 1:2 ration.

      • Peter Pienkowski says:

        Baking ratios are typically done by weight, not by volume. So, 2 cups minus 2 tbsp flour is equivalent to approximately 230g of flour and 3/4 cup water plus 2 tbsp is 205g of water. 205gH20/230g flour is approximately 89% water as a percentage of flour (a baker’s percentage). So, it is almost 1:1, if you follow me.

        I made it both ways and the traditional puff pastry recipe is much better and easier to work with than the method described here. Other recipes for pastel de nata or pastel de belem tend to follow the more tradition 55-60% water as a percentage of flour for the puff pastry. This custard filling recipe is spot on, the flour really helps prevent curdling of the milk under the high heat that the pastel de nata require.

        • David Leite says:

          Peter, I definitely got your point. And, yes, I measured by volume, my bad. I’ve never had a problem with the dough, though. Did you know that in Belém the dough is made in a log that’s about one foot in diameter and then pulled and pulled until it’s an inch in diameter? I wonder if the extra water helps that process.

          So tell me, would you consider sharing your recipe for puff pastry so that we can offer it as an option for readers?

          I’m happy you like the filling. I think it’s quite good.

          • Peter says:

            The recipe is same as yours, just less water (if you’re using AP flour, you’ll want 125ml-135ml of water). I also do the traditional butter square thing as opposed to this room temperature spreading stuff. It’s not really my recipe, just a basic puff pastry recipe you’ll find in almost any culinary guessing book. There’s also an America’s Test Kitchen episode where Julia (one of the cooks) builds the puff pastry using a jelly roll pan and parchment paper making it virtually impossible to screw up.

            As for the stretchiness, as far as I know, the elasticity of flour is affected by only the gluten content and the amount of kneading (and to a lesser extent, things like salt and acid). Typically, puff pastries are kneaded very little so as to avoid gluten development, some folks even recommend adding a bit of acid to keep the gluten from developing. I imagine an expert pastry baker would be the person to consult on this sort of thing though–as I understand it, those Belem bakers are rather secretive with their recipes.

            • David Leite says:

              Secretive? Secretive?! The dough and custard are made behind a locked door at night. I did discover they also use a fat that isn’t 100% butter. I forgot the name, but it can be bought in Portugal.

              But I assume you roll your puff, cut it into 1-inch nubs, and turn them on their cut sides in order to thumb the dough up the sides of the tin?

              • Maggie says:

                Ola David, a gordura que eles usam em portugal para a massa folhada dos pasteis de nata e margarina para folhados.

                • David Leite says:

                  Olá, Maggie. Em Portugal eles usam um produto similar a margarina. Eu não sei a real composição do conteúdo de gordura, mas tem um ponto de fusão mais elevado do que a manteiga. E faz um bolo mais esquisito. Mas elas única coisa é que é um transfat.

                • Maggie says:

                  Ola David, desculpe de incomodar mas sera que me podias esplicar a causa de a massa folhada encolher quando vai para o forno ? e que ja me passou varias vezes e o creme entorna e os pasteis ficam perdidos. outras vezes ficam mesmo uma maravilha. Obrigada.

                  • David Leite says:

                    Maggie, obrigado pela sua mensagem. Retracção é causada pela massa sendo manipulado muito. A massa precisa descansar na geladeira o tempo suficiente para que o glúten pode relaxar. Além disso, quando você está moldando a massa até os lados da estanho de cozimento, certifique-se de não puxar muito nisso, ou ele vai encolher. Você também pode cortar os pedaços de massa um pouco maior para que você tenha mais massa para trabalhar com comk. Espero que ajude.

  27. Peter says:

    Yeh, the nubs vary a bit depending in width depending on the roll, but usually with my mini cupcake pan it’s 1/2”-3/4” thick.

    About the mixing the fat–I bet they don’t use butter at all, but rather leaf grade lard (or a mixture of the two as you say). I’ve never worked with leaf lard or even seen the correct cuts of fat to render into leaf lard (it comes from around the kidneys, not the fat back from above the shoulders), but it is supposedly the holy grail of pastry cooking fats. You often hear chefs in the States talking up European butters, especially for puff pastry, because it contains less water and more fat than American butters. I don’t know why exactly leaf lard is supposed to produce such flaky pie crusts and shatter-tastic croissants, but it’s probably got to do with its even higher fat and lower water content.

    • David Leite says:

      I can say for sure that it’s not leaf lard or regular lard. It’s actually a margarine-like product. It’s very yellow. My guess is it’s a combination of butter and some form of hydrogenated fat.

  28. Peter Pienkowski says:

    Well, if they’re using margarine (invented circa 1870), then they are certainly not sticking to the original 1837 recipe ;)

    • David Leite says:

      Not from the recipe from the Monastery of Jeronimos! My guess–and I can’t confirm this with anyone at the confeitaria–is that it was a 20th-century tweak. It’s called margarina para folhados, which is, apparently, different from margarina para bolos, etc.

  29. regina goncalves says:

    Hi David. I love your blog. I have made your almond torte and absolutely loved it. I have made it twice and it was a hit with everyone.

    Now this is my second time making the pastéis. The fist time i made it with 2% cuz it was all i had, plus a little heavy cream for a thicker consistency. they came out tasting great just a little too runny so this time i made it with whole milk and they are still not how they should be. i really would like to master this. what am i doing wrong?

    1. should i reduce the water for the syrup and just make it 1/3 water?

    or

    2. should i use cream instead of milk?

    My oven only heats up to 500 degrees so i leave them in there for a few more minutes. Also, i am using phylo for the cups. i will finally concur my fears and make the dough as soon as i master the custard part first.

    Thanks,

    Regina Goncalves
    From New Jersey

    • David Leite says:

      Hello, Regina. Sorry to hear the filling was runny. I wouldn’t change or substitute anything, as baking is chemistry and all the ingredients work together to make the filling the right consistency.

      First make sure you’re using the right type of milk, the exact amount and right type of flour, and the right size eggs. These all contribute to the thickening of the filling. I would also use the dough specified in the recipe. All of these substitutions have an effect on the final product.

      Second, I would also make sure to use a correctly calibrated thermometer. Different reactions happen at different temperatures, and if you haven’t gotten the mixture up to the right temperature (or over shot it), that could also affect the results.

      Third, keeping the pastries in longer is fine, but it may take longer than just a few minutes. To find out the perfect timing: follow the recipe exactly using all the proper and called-for equipment then bake a batch, removing a tart every minute or so after the full baking time. (So you’d have a pastry removed at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, etc. minutes) Let them sit until slightly warm. This will tell you precisely at what time the pastries are done for your oven, since it can’t reach 550°.

      Hope this helps.

  30. Hildegard Jensen says:

    Hi
    I just wanted to know if one can freeze the Pasteis de Nata once they are baked and the just defrost and reheat them a little on another day. We wanted to make them for a school fair and obviously needed to many to bake on the same or even two days. Thank you.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Hildegard, my gut says no. I’ve never tried it because I think the texture of the custard and the integrity of the pastry would suffer. My suggestion? Make a batch of the custard and dough. (Both can stay in the fridge for up to a week.) Make just a few pastries, let them cool, them freeze them. Defrost and reheat and decide if they work for you. (Sorry for the noncommittal answer, but I would hate to say yes and then you find out the day of the fair, they don’t taste good.)

  31. Sheila Atkinson says:

    Maybe I did not read this carefully enough. How many turns for the puff pastry?

    Thanks!

    Sheila

  32. Candice says:

    Thanks David. I just got back from Portugal two days ago and have been craving these tarts. I can’t wait to make them. Thanks for sharing.

    • David Leite says:

      Candice, welcome home. These are addictive little devils. Please let me know how they turn out.

  33. Ben says:

    It says bring the cinnamon, sugar, and water to 100°C. DO NOT STIR. So is it OK if all sugar doesn’t melt? Or am I doing something wrong?

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Ben, the sugar needs to be dissolved entirely. What kind of sugar are you using? (I see that you’re in the UK.) When you try it again, make sure the sugar is completely submerged in the water, and if necessary, give it a few gentle stirs with a spoon. That will help.

  34. Colette says:

    Hi David! I’ve been over the years trying various recipes and eventually settled with one where I was getting fairly decent results…until that same recipe (also with a sugar syrup) began to sometimes get runnier with rest to cool down and split when baked!!I read you mentioned in the EG forum that you had that resolved. Could you PLEASE enlighten me as to why that happens or how to avoid it? I don’t know anymore if it is due to overcooking the cornstarch (which I use instead of flour…maybe I ought to change) or not cooking it enough and thus the uncooked yolks breaking it down. thank you, thank you in advance!!I am trying today your recipe, though I’m afraid my “conversions” to grams may not be so accurate…We’ll see! :)

    P.D. Would it be possible for you to share the full version of Alfama’s recipe (the one not adapted for home ovens?).

    • David Leite says:

      Colette, thanks for writing. Cornstarch is notoriously finicky. If overcooked, it turns runny, as you noted, and there is nothing you can do to fix it. And that’s what I think is happening to you. Flour is more stable and creates a thick custard, so I suggest you go with that. I don’t have the full recipe from Alfama, because right from the beginning, we scaled it down for the home cook. But all we did was scale it down. This recipe is the Alfama version. Please let me know how it goes.

  35. Nusrat says:

    Hi David,

    I have a question with regards to the custard. After whisking in the eggs, is the final result supposed to be quite liquid?

    • David Leite says:

      Hello Nustrat. Yes, the uncooked custard is very liquid-y. The cooked custard firms up nicely. Let me know how they turn out.

      • Nusrat says:

        Thank you for the reply, David.

        Well it did not turn out as the one I just ate in Portugal two weeks ago unfortunately:(

        The custard did set but it set too much because I notice that it did not move as much as the ones I ate. My pastry did not turn out very well either because they did not grow and was not fluffy:( but they were eatable!

        Also I did half the quantity of the custard and it was a little too sweet. But I did not give up!!! I am trying again this weekend :) will let you know.

        For my pastry, I noticed that when I had them in the spiral and pressing them in the pan, I could feel the butter. Is that normal?

        I really want to get this right ;) hubby is Portuguese :)

        • David Leite says:

          Hi Nusrat. I’m sorry they didn’t turn out well. These are mini-pastéis and will be a bit different. They’re supposed to be made in a small muffin tin (see special equipment above). That makes the pastry crisper than those in the confeitaria. A suggestion: perhaps make these in a regular-size muffin tin. That will allow more dough in each well and that means the dough has a better chance to puff more. Also because the pastéis are bigger, the custard won’t cook as much.

          I’m here to help you. But I’ll admit I’ve never had a homemade pastel that was like those in Portugal. You’ve inspired me to get back in the kitchen and revisit this recipe.

  36. Ruby says:

    Hi David,

    I’m having real trouble getting the dough rolled out to an 18-inch square as specified – it’s very thin and sticking to the surface no matter how much flour I use (and I don’t want to overdo it on the flour for fear of making the pastry tough). Do you have any tips? When I try to scrape it from the surface with the dough scraper it’s just ruching up in places, tearing in other places. The dough doesn’t feel excessively wet or sticky though.

    Thanks so much!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Ruby. I see you’re writing from the UK. That in itself may be part of the problem. I find it irksome that flours, as well as some other baking ingredients, differ from country to country. The first thing I’d try is to roll out the dough to the size that works for you. Forget about yield at the moment. Our goal now is to get it working so that you can then make any volume adjustment later. Fire off a batch and see how they fare. It might be simply a matter of differences in measuring the flour. In the US, we prefer, sadly, volume, where elsewhere in the world,the more precise method of weight is the standard. If that still doesn’t do, write me back and we’ll get to the bottom of this. We have some testers in England who might be able to lend their expertise.

  37. Faye says:

    Hey David!

    I stumble upon your website looking for the perfect pastéis de nata recipe because I used to eat them at Nando’s (Portuguese resto franchised here in the MidEast). There are a lot of websites that offer the same recipe, but I was interested in your because of the small quantity with a sure-win taste! I was really amazed when I tasted them! They were really wonderful! And…yes the are little devils to the diet! From now on, this will always be one of my top desserts to cook.

    Now, I am trying your Katherine Hepburn brownies. I was wondering if one day you could also make a recipe for honey cake. Since i’ve been researching it…just can’t comprehend other websites. God Bless on your passion for cooking!!! Thanks!!!

    • David Leite says:

      Faye, what a lovely thing to say, thank you. Yes, I find these little devils to be not only detrimental to the waistline but also to the will. Which is why I make them only when I have a crowd coming over.

      I’ll take a look at bolo de mel (honey cake). It wasn’t may favorite when I was in Portugal, so I didn’t include it in my cookbook or on the site. But perhaps I can come up with something that will satisfy us both.

  38. Faye says:

    I am also wondering how to make it stick to your teeth..because after it is cooked the pastry is really crackling! I mean..-sharp…like that. So I put it the dough in the fridge and about the 2nd day it turned out the way I wanted. The opposite of crackling pastry. I dont really know how to say it, but I wanted it that way. Not super crispy! so it was my preference. =) thanks again!

    • David Leite says:

      Sure thing, Faye. I think by letting the dough rest in the fridge for 48 hours, it hydrated and made it a bit softer–crisp but not crackling.

  39. Jablonski says:

    Heya.

    I’d love to make these, as I was in Lisbon recently and visited the shop in Belem. However, the recipe is quite large for how I typically allow myself to indulge in sweets. Would halving the recipe work? I know that with cooking one can be inexact and improvise, but baking is more sensitive to the variance in chemistry. Additionally, beyond the ingredients, would the rolling measurements still apply or would a best guess in area in regards to the thickness make sense? I hope things are well for you! Thanks in advance!

    • David Leite says:

      Heya, Jablonski. My suggestion is to make the full recipe. You can use how ever much of the dough you want and freeze the rest. Same for the filling: it will keep in the fridge for at least a week. That’s what I do. Otherwise, you start to fiddle with smaller amounts, and that can be hard.

      Not sure what you mean by the rolling the dough and its thickness. Can you give me more detail?

      • Jablonski says:

        Thanks for the quick reply! If you had a suggestion for whether or not halving the recipe would work, I was curious if the lesser quantity of dough would need to be rolled into different dimensions for buttering and cutting or if I attempt to achieve the dimensions posted.

        • David Leite says:

          Jablonski, I see what you mean. Yes, they would have to be rolled to different dimensions, because there’s less dough. The dimensions would depend upon how much dough you used, which is way too confusing. My advice is to make the whole dough recipe up until you slice the log. Because the dough will have been rolled and shaped properly, all you need to do is cut off the number of dough rounds you need, fit them into the tins, and freeze the rest. Easy peasey.

  40. Angela Simoes says:

    My husband made pasteis de nata from your recipe and they came out SO DELICIOUS!!! So close to what you find in Lisbon!!! Great recipe!! Thank you!! =) Feliz Natal!

    • David Leite says:

      Angela, nothing–I mean nothing–makes me happier. Thank you for your kind words, and tell your husband, meu prazer.

  41. Helena says:

    Hi David -
    Have also had this recipe bookmarked for “some day.” Yesterday was that day, and they turned out beautifully. My Tia (Aunt), age of 91, Portuguese and never a baker, had the surprise of her life today when I brought these to her. Of course, my husband and I did taste test them yesterday just to make sure they were good. I have a cousin coming from Portugal in February for a visit and I will make them again. Thanks for sharing.

    • David Leite says:

      How wonderful to hear, Helena! Thank you. Please give your tia um grande abraço for me. And I wish you, your husband, and tia a wonderful Christmas!

  42. Tina says:

    Hi my name is Tina, I have a question to ask you. May I ask what kind of flour will I use for my Portuguese Custard? Thank you for your time take care and have a wonderful day.

  43. Elan says:

    Hello. I would love to try this recipe i saw an interesting one on a website by a Portuguese lady, she actually cooked the flour and some of milk together first to create a thick paste then added the egg yolks sugar syrup and milk which had been simmered with the cinnamon and lemon. I have tried many versions of this and filling wise i found the method of pre cooking the flour was pretty good texture wise. Although my main issue is the pastry, it’s never the same as the ones you see in the shops in London, they have an almost filo type texture, whats the key to that pastry?!
    Thanks for your recipe!

    • David Leite says:

      Elan, it would be hard to find a recipe for the pastry like the kind you find in Lisbon shops. The reason is the pastry is made in huge, huge sheets of alternating layers of pastry and a margarine-like fat. Then the sheets are rolled into large logs and chilled. The logs, which are about 15 inches in diameter, are pulled and tugged until they’re about an inch in diameter. So that’s what creates all those crazy circular layers.

      Try this recipe and see if you like it. It does create thin crispy layers.

  44. Lawrence says:

    I have made this several times. My small adjustments are I put lemon zest from half a lemon in with the sugar and cinnamon, also I use heavy cream instead of milk. The custard sets up fine as described, than I caramelize the tops with a blow torch.

    The pastry describe here is fine and does a great job. However, you must work with cold butter and keep it cold or the flour absorbs the butter. The butter is there to keep the layers of dough apart when it bakes – so it is nice and flaky…. mmmmmm.

    Last note, even when I screwed up a batch–there were no leftovers!

    • David Leite says:

      Hey, Lawrence. I love your adjustments. I think my readers will get a lot out of them.

      And I agree completely that the butter remain cold–except for the first step when you smear it over the rolled out dough. After that, it’s chill city. This recipe is the only example that I’ve seen in which butter is first softened then chilled to make a puff pastry.

  45. Sam says:

    Just made these, was worried as I’m in uk and had to convert from cups, but they worked out great. Just had to thank you, David, I think you’re amazing. Not only for the wonderful recipe, but taking the time to get back to people struggling, or asking for clarification… Bringing back memories of grandparents, going that extra mile.

    Bravo, David, you are a top guy. You really have brightened my day, and improved my view on humanity in general. I’ll be on the lookout for your cookbooks!

    • David Leite says:

      Sam, I’m thrilled that the pastéis worked out for you.

      Yes, it is indeed tricky to do U.S. and U.K. conversions. I just made traditional British pork pies with a lard crust, and I had to try it several times because of the conversions.

      And thank you for your extremely kind words. You have no idea idea how much they mean to me.

  46. Mrs E says:

    Hello David,

    After making Marcela’s Bolgonese I knew you had great recipes on this site. I just stumbled upon this recipe while looking at your site and I can not believe my eyes (I subscribed by the way). I just had one of these tarts for the first time several months ago at a Chinese Bakery. I thought it was among the best tasting desserts I have ever tried and I found it quite intriguing. Is the pastry dough basically a puff pastry dough?

    Also, I visited Portugal in the late early 90′s and tasted the most delicious home cooked meal which was made with rice, baccalau and it had boiled sliced eggs on top, maybe parsley? It was served on a large platter. It was so delicious. I was in my early 20′s at the time and although I appreciated food I was still in college and I did not pay as close attention to food details as I do today, but I still remember that stood out as one of the most delicious meals I had in Portugal. Would you by any chance know a dish that would be similarly prepared?

    • David Leite says:

      Hello Mrs E. Yes, indeed, that sauce is fantastic, isn’t it?

      As far as the cod dish, that was most likely bacalhau com arroz. It usually includes onions, rice, olives, and olive oil. A very simple dish. Do you remember if the rice was white or yellow? I’m going to ask one of our recipe testers, Sofia, who is also Portuguese, to weigh in here.

      • Sofia says:

        Hello Mrs. E. As David already said the dish is most likely Arroz de Bacalhau. It usually is a tradtional meal from the North of Portugal, most specifically from the Minho region. The dish is very simple to make as all it has is dry (salt) cod fish, rice, onions, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper then decorated with parsley. Let us know if you would like a recipe and I will make sure David sends it directly to you.

        • Colette says:

          Hi Sofia! If you don’t mind me asking, I’d love to have the recipe if possible! I’d really appreciate it! Thank you!

  47. Mrs E says:

    I can’t wait to make these for my family tonight as a valentines dinner surprise, with fresh berries and whipped cream on the side. All of the components are in the fridge ready to go as I want to serve these warm as suggested. Wish me luck! David I love your site, you are an inspiration, and I loved your write up about Ina Garten that was featured today. Don’t we all love her? You made me feel as if I was there as I read your account. You are a great writer. Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful recipes.

  48. Mrs E says:

    Hi David, I made these tonight and they were delicious and I was thanked by family for this wonderful dessert. The down side of this recipe is that I created an actual grease fire in my oven which was kind of scary. The melted oil dripped away from the tarts as they were baking and onto the oven burner below, I probably should have placed a sheet pan on the second row. Do you ever have escaped grease when baking at the high temp? My mini muffin wilton pan did not have a lip on the edge of the pan, smooth edges all around so the grease just dripped. Any thoughts?

    • David Leite says:

      Mrs E, can you tell me more about the grease? I’ve never had that happen to me. When you say oil, what do you mean? There’s no oil in the recipe.

  49. John Pereira says:

    Hello everyone! I am pretty much an amateur when it comes to baking/cooking. Back in January I attempted to make these but failed when trying to roll out the dough. It was extremely sticky and while I was able to roll it out close to the specified dimensions, it was tearing to pieces when I went to fold it over. I kept trying to patch things up but it was getting worse so I just gave up and planned to try it again in the near future.

    Well, last week I had a bit of free time so I gave it another go. I am extremely happy to report that this time they turned out absolutely amazing! I’m sharing exactly what I did in hopes that it will help anyone else that has run into a “sticky” situation with the dough.

    Instead of adding all the water at once to the flour, I added it in small amounts until the dough was the right consistency and didn’t get to the point of being sticky. I used slightly less than the “3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water” listed. When I was happy with the dough, I followed the directions EXACTLY as stated and everything went without a hitch! It is sooooo important to make sure you flour your work surface properly. I also placed my marble rolling pin in the fridge for a half hour to chill it since I read somewhere that this helps prevent the dough from sticking to it. Once I rolled the dough close to the specified dimensions, I trimmed the edges using a pizza wheel cutter which I found made quick work of it and kept the edge nice and straight. Of course, a knife will do the same trick. Once the butter was spread on the two-third section, I used my pastry scraper to carefully lift the unbuttered section and fold it over. I then continued with the rest of the steps following the same method. Just be patient and take care not to rip the dough since it is very thin when you roll it out to the full dimension. I made the dough a day ahead so it could chill overnight. The following day, I cut the two logs as close to the specified thickness as possible and placed the cut-ends flat in each well of my mini-muffin pan. Forming them in the well was easy enough…I squished the round down with my thumb and flattened it around the sides.

    For the custard I followed the recipe/directions exactly as stated and found it to be easy-peasy to make and I had no issues with it. After spooning the custard into the prepared pan, in the oven they went.

    When the crust was nice and golden I took them out and used a torch to make the tops look pretty. Oven time took about 12 minutes because I kept peeking to make sure they were baking properly and not burning. I hate opening the oven while baking but I spent way too much time with the dough to have it burn on me.

    I have tried several pastéis from various bakeries and couldn’t wait to compare these homemade ones. I was dying to try one and waiting for them to cool down felt like an eternity. When I took the first bite out of one I was at a complete loss for words. These tasted just like the original ones! Maybe even better!! The shell was so fresh, nice and light, buttery and combined with the custard, they were magnificent!

    Pastéis de Nata

    • David Leite says:

      John, Im gobsmacked. Just gobsmacked. I’m so happy you mastered the recipe and enjoyed the pastéis. These are without a doubt my favorite Portuguese recipe.

  50. John Pereira says:

    David, my success making these would not have been possible without your guidance and tips along the way. I honestly can’t see myself buying these from a bakery ever again. I will be making another batch this Easter weekend! I’m also going to attempt making the Pasteis de Coco and will let you know how they turn out. The recipe looks straight forward and I don’t anticipate running into any problems.

    • David Leite says:

      What I do is make several batches of the dough (the hardest part, as you know) and freeze the logs. Whenever I want pastéis, I let a log defrost in the fridge, make the filling, and go for it.

      AS far as the Pastéis de Coco go, you’ll be fine. That is an easy-peasy recipe.

  51. thanks for the recipe! I just shared this post on Facebook.

  52. Indi says:

    Hi, just wondering about the stirred butter for the pastry – do you measure before or after stirring the butter? I am in the UK so using weight rather than volume and the density of stirred butter is about 1/3 less that that of a block of butter. I am hoping to make a gluten-free version of these for a friend who loves pasteis de nata but has recently had to go gluten-free. Am using an all-purpose gluten-free flour, have no idea whether it will work because of the change of flour and the conversion of units but am going to go for it…. Thanks!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Indi. You stir the butter after you’ve measured it out. The weigh of the butter (8 ounces) in metric is 226.8 grams.

      I’m curious to see how well the pastries come out using gluten-free flour. Please pop back in and let me know.

  53. Micaela says:

    David! You’re so nice, always responding and helping everyone make these adorable treats! My boyfriend’s family is from Portugal and when I went to New Jersey, we found a shop that carried these that reminded them of home! Thanks to you, I can now make millions of these little babies and give them out to the whole family, a sweet treat that brings back memories. Thank you so much for posting.

  54. Richard Pepino says:

    Just made for the first time. Delicious! But, never having eaten them before I am not sure if the center should be cake like or custard like? What is the correct way? Many thanks. Mel

    • David Leite says:

      Hi Richard, so glad that you liked them. The filling should be a firm custard. Not runny, bet definitely not cake-y. Let me know if that helps.

  55. Indi says:

    Hello David, just getting back to you about the gluten-free tarts – well, they tasted delicious but the pastry was certainly different.

    When I was preparing the flour and water mixture, it seemed too sticky–was sticking to my fingers (did not have a mixer with dough hook, etc) but not so much to the bowl but I couldn’t transfer it well enough so had to throw in more flour so that it wouldn’t all just stick to the rolling pin or the surface. This was despite the gluten-free flour mix that I used (Doves Farm white all-purpose for UK readers) advising to use slightly more water than recipes recommend for wheat-flour recipes, which I don’t think I did but I was not at home and the measuring jug and weighing scales were possibly a little off. I think that that was my mistake though as it was then really floury.

    Then, when rolling, there were times when the pastry was cracking and seemed too dry. It was a bit tricky but I just tried to do the best that I could do. However, it was a struggle again for making the log and it probably wasn’t thin enough or rolled tightly enough.

    The custard part was easy, no sweat. But when it came to cutting the log and moulding it to the pan ready for the custard to be poured in, more difficulties. Again, it started to crack if I rolled the log, so, I just pressed it instead, which seemed to work well. But spreading the pastry in the muffin cups didn’t work well either so I ended up having to just squash it around and lose the layers :(

    However, the final result, though not exactly right as I didn’t have the layers, tasted beautiful and was a hit with everyone! I don’t have fantastic photos but would like to show you how it looked.

    Thanks a lot for the recipe, even though it didn’t work out perfectly, it still tasted amazing!

    • David Leite says:

      Indi, glad to hear the GF version worked for you. You can upload the picture here. And in the future, you’ll find a link right above the comment box that opens the uploader.

  56. jayme says:

    thanks for the great recipe, there are these other kinds that are made with bean i believe but most bakeries have them avail in orange, almond, beer, bean and sometimes other flavors, although they have the same sticky soft moist texture and I think, some make it with no shell at all, the filling itself seems to form a shell while baking whereas some make it with a very thin shell…. do you know what I’m talking about? You would be my hero (and the only one on the net so far as I’ve seen in all my searching!) if you posted a recipe with these including the different flavor variations.

    i got so addicted to all these portuguese tarts when i was dating a portuguese guy, his mom (as my daughter called, vavo lol) used to bring us boxes of them all the time, (they were from brampton ontario, a huge portuguese community and therefore easy to find) my little brothers favs were the orange ones and every year on his birthday, id request a special box just for him. he would promptly take the box downstairs and not come up until they were gone! His bday is coming up and I would love to be able to make him some and ship them to him. (and of course eat a bunch myself!) I live in quebec now and sadly, theres not much of these bakeries around that ive found
    thanks again :)

    • David Leite says:

      Jamye, I do know what you’re referring to. Unfortunately, I don’t have recipes for them, but I did find these on the Web. Now, I’ve never made these, so I can’t vouch for them, but they should at least give you a place to start. (Also, check out “Portuguese Homestyle Cooking.” Ana Ortins has come very good recipes.)

      Orange: Pastéis de laranja
      Bean: Pastéis de Feijão
      Almond: Pastéis de Amêndoa

      These recipes are all in Portuguese. I use Chrome, and I find that if a page is in a foreign language, Chrome will ask me if I want the page translated.

      • jayme says:

        thanks so much! I’m going to start with the pasteis laranja and work my way through the others. I’ll also check out the other site you mentioned,

        im using a mac (thus, safari, but I was able to get a rough translation….a few things that don’t really make sense (i had to look up what a “gema” is, haha,, found out its a yolk! shoulda guessed, portuguese cooking looooooves egg yolks, i have such an over abundance of leftover egg whites, its not even funny) but fortunately, I know my way around a kitchen and can mostly figure out how to make anything with basic ingredient guidelines lol)

        will let you know how these recipes turn out.

  57. Laurie says:

    David, I returned from Lisbon a few weeks ago, determined to try the delicious Pasteis de Belem I sampled there. I was thrilled to try this recipe! The resulting tarts were just delicious, except the crust was a bit tough. I’m thinking I must’ve used too much flour when rolling and buttering the dough. Also, as one other poster mentioned, once in the oven, the liquified butter from the tarts splattered and spilled onto the bottom of the oven and caused quite a lot of smoke. Do you have any suggestions for correcting these two problems next time? I will try them again, just to impress my traveling companions!

    • David Leite says:

      Laurie, so glad you liked the pastéis. How I wish I could make the EXACT pastéis served at the Confeitaria de Belém. I’d be rich!

      Regarding the toughness, how long did you let the dough rest? Also using less flour when shaping and rolling is the best way to avoid tough pastry. Mine are usually very crispy and the shatter sometimes.

      As far as the butter spilling out, you can make these in a larger tin but go only halfway up the well wall with the pastry. That way if there is an overflow, it won’t spill out.

      In Lisbon, they have special molds that sit on large trays so that if there is overspill, and there is, it’s caught by the try. So you can do something similar by sliding a rimmed baking sheet in the oven before preheating then place the tin on top. If it does spill over, at least it’s not spilling on your oven floor.

  58. bikerunbake says:

    Hi David!

    I’ve been making these pasteis on a fairly regular basis with continued success. I have a quick question which is more out of curiosity than with the actual recipe. Why is the dough only rolled out three times? I understand it’s to create layers but why not roll it out more than three times? Would there be no added benefit to this?

    • David Leite says:

      Hey, bikerunbake. My understanding is that because there is so little dough, any more rolling would defeat the layering because it would all schmoosh together. (Schoosh is a technical baking term.) In Portugal, especially at the Confeitaria de Belém, they make the dough ns huge amounts and can afford an extra turn. But even in classic French puff pastry, there are only four turns.

      • John Pereira says:

        Thanks David! That makes total sense and the last thing I want to do is “schmoosh” it all together :). I made three batches (in full-size muffin pans) this past weekend for a birthday party where the majority of people (my family) are Portuguese. EVERYONE absolutely loved them and couldn’t believe they were homemade. Some even sneaked a few to take home with them! What a great feeling and such a compliment to your recipe. Thanks again.

  59. Get HO says:

    HI David, I just made these and they look great but is the pastry supposed to THAT crisp and hard? When I made the dough at the start I had to add a lot more water to get it to form a pillowy-soft ball. I also kneaded it for quite a while but did manage to let the pastry rest in the fridge overnight. Where did I go wrong? Thank you!

    • David Leite says:

      Get HO, the pastry should be crispy, but not hard. I suspect it was the extra water that did it. What kind of flour were you using?

  60. Lynn says:

    Hi David. I just ordered the aluminum custard cups from ebay. Will I need to spray them before placing in the dough? Also, I am a perfectionist and I want the dark spots. Can I use a food torch?

    • David Leite says:

      Lynn, I would spray them lightly, but it will make it harder for you to stretch the dough. Also, you’ll need more dough per cup because the cups are bigger than the wells of a mini muffin pan. And, yes, you can use a torch to spot the top of the pastéis.

  61. costa says:

    Does it matter if you use sea salt or regular table salt? Want to try these for my dad’s birthday he is from Portugal.

  62. kaila says:

    Hey David. I’ve been trying to master these in my workplace kitchen. i have not yet tried your recipe but will be trying it very soon. So far i have been using commercial puff pastry and haven’t got the crispy texture i want. I was just wondering, some recipes roll the dough into a log like yours and then push and roll out the dough using a rolling pin, do you think it is better to hand mould them or would it have no effect at all? could that method be done with your dough recipe? Thanks.

    • David Leite says:

      kaila, thanks for writing. I think commercial puff pastry has too much flour in it, from what I’ve experienced. The dough in my recipe is far crunchier because the layers tend to be thinner. I don’t think the jelly-rolling, slicing, and rolling out with the rolling pin would work well for my recipe. Nor is it how they do it in Portugal. There seems to be something in the technique of using your thumbs to coax the dough up the side of the well.

  63. Cassandra says:

    Hi David

    I’m planning on making these this weekend however I have two problems:

    1. I dont have a stand mixer or a food processor, so how can I mix these by hand without over working the dough?

    2. I also dont have a candy thermometer, is there anyway to make the custard without it?

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Cassandra, you can use a hand mixer or you can use a wooden spoon. You’d just have to mix it more than 30 seconds or so. I don’t suggest working without a candy thermometer. It’s incredibly helpful in the kitchen and it will assure the pastéis are cooked to the right temperature. Otherwise they can get curdy.

  64. Phillip says:

    David, greetings from Singapore! I’m just wondering, is that the correct amount of sugar? I’m known to have a sweet tooth but even I find the custard way way way too sweet. 1 1/3 cups of sugar is about 300 grams right? I must be doing something wrong because absolutely no one else has commented about it. I’m using the normal granulated sugar.

    I know I can just reduce the sugar amount but I’m highly curious to find out why no one else has a problem with it. Is the sugar in Europe is less sweet perhaps? Thanks!

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hi Phillip. It’s about 270 grams. But don’t forget you have more than double that in liquid ingredients. Portugal is know for “tooth-achingly sweet” desserts so it is the correct amount–at least for this recipe. You might find others that call for less sugar.

      • Phillip says:

        Thanks David for the prompt reply. I have come to terms with the sweetness by reducing the sugar slightly, It turns out great!

        I do have another question however. Do you know the size of the pasteis at Antiga Confeitaria? What kind of ‘cups’ do they use to bake the pasteis in? Is there a proper name for it?

        • David Leite David Leite says:

          That’s good to hear, Phillip. Can you tell me how much less sugar you used, for those interested in lowering it?

          And as far as the tins goes, I don’t know of a special name for them. I’ve always called them “pastéis de nata tins.” The ones the Confeitaria uses have a 1/4 cup capacity (see the picture). I bought mine about 10 years ago at Tucha Gifts in Newark, NJ. Back then they were about $1.70 each. Realize if you use these, the cooking time and yield will differ.

          Pasteis de Nata Tins

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