Cooking with… Nuno Mendes: Pastel de Nata


We have been baking pasteís de nata quite a lot over the past month or so. It’s such a portuguese thing so we should give it a try on ‘Cooking with… Nuno Mendes: Pastel de Natacause in the end we get to it them since it’s impossible to find a good pastel de nata around Brighton.
Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesWe decided to try the recipe of Nuno Mendes – that famous Portuguese chef with amazing restaurants, such as Taberna do Mercado, in London –  from Lisboeta: Recipes from Portugal’s City of Light‘ cookbook. The book itself is an ode to the Portuguese (and Lisbon in particular) food scene and we loooove it! Not only it’s the book pretty but the recipes amazing and it’s written so well that leaves us *cheios de saudades*!
This recipe is easy enough. Truth is, is easier than we thought would be and quite addictive (since we love to eat a good pastel de nata). So, since the first time we tried to bake them we have been on a roll baking pasteís de nata to achieve perfection.

The first time they looked like ‘empadas’ ( you might recognised the spanish word – ‘empanadas’). Yeah that’s right – empadas de nata – was they were way too big, the pastry to thick and somehow the flavour was quite not right.

Second time around and they tasted so much better (like a proper pastel de nata) but even with smaller muffin tins and thinner pastry it was still not right. Then we bought several smaller muffin tins and no luck there – still too big. When we were about to give up, our awesome friends sent us tins that were specific to bake a pastel de nata from Portugal.
Pastel de Nata Recipe -Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno Mendes Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesNow we can share the recipe and leave you a few good tips to bake a delicious pastel de nata:

  • the pastel de nata (or muffin tin) should be between 1,8 and 2,5cm tall and 7cm diameter – not taller otherwise it will be way too big!;
  • Nuno Mendes recommends the muffin tins – but, once again, make sure they have the dimensions mentioned above (as we are not baking cupcakes);
  • Nuno Mendes uses all-butter puff pastry – it’s ok to use the ready-made puff pastry but next time I am going to try and make my own puff pastry.

Now to the recipe cause we all love a good pastel de nata and it’s what you are all looking for.

Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata (or Pastéis de Nata)

makes 12

Nuno Mendes’ recipe is only to bake 6 pastéis de nata but since we love them so much, the recipe below is to make 12 in one go 🙂

ingredients for the pastry:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (500g)
  • melted butter, for greasing
  • sugar and cinnamon for dusting

ingredients for the sugar syrup:

  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of lemon zest
  • 2 x 75ml water

ingredients for the custard:

  • 500ml whole milk (300ml + 200ml)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of lemon zest
  • 40g butter (20g + 20g)
  • 4 tbsp white plain flour
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 4 medium egg yolks

To prepare the pastry – start by brushing 12 individual muffin tins with melted butter and fill in the fridge. In the meantime, roll out the puff pastry into a 2mm-thick rectangle and then roll it up lengthwise into a tight sausage shape about 5cm diameter. Slice into 12 discs 2 cm thick. Roll the discs once again into 2 cm thick and then place them in the tins and making sure they come just below the top of the tins. Chill in the fridge while making the custard.

To make the sugar syrup – Put the ingredients – 225g sugar, 75ml water, lemon zest and cinnamon stick in a pan over medium hear for about 5 minutes, just until the sugar dissolves. Cook over a low heat until you have a light brown caramel (another 2-3 minutes). Add the remaining 75ml water and return the pan to a gentle hear to dissolve any solid caramel (about 3-5 minutes).

To make the custard – Heat 300ml milk in a pan over medium heat with the cinnamon stick, lemon zest and 20 g of butter bringing it to just below boiling point – about 10 minutes and then remove the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. In the meantime, on a bowl mix the flour and cornflour and gradually add the remaining milk (200ml milk) until a thin paste. Gradually por the warm infused milk over the paste, stirring well, then pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over low, for about 5-7 minutes, until it thickens to a double cream consistency. Whisk the remaining 20g butter.

To bake the pastéis de nata – Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (in our case 270º C) and place a baking sheet on the top shelf. Just before baking the tarts, pour the sugar syrup into the custard and add the 4 egg yolks. Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined pastéis de nata tins (fill almost to the top) and bake in the hot baking sheet for 9-13 minutes (ours were more to the 13 minutes – we like them a little burnt on top) and rotating them if necessary to make sure they colour evenly.

Take them out of the oven and leave them to cook slightly in the tins (they will be too hot!) before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Eat them while they are still warm (they taste even better!), sprinkled with cinnamon (and sugar if you wish – like in Portugal) before serving.
Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesWe hope you enjoy them as much as we do and next time we’ll bring a recipe for a good puff pastry – yeah? In the meantime, buy the book and fall in love with Lisbon and Portugal ❤

Have a nice week and hugs from sunny Portugal!