unsalted butter or neutral-tasting oil,
320g (1 ¼ oz) sheet ready-rolled
all-butter puff pastry
2 large egg yolks, beaten, for brushing
icing (powdered) sugar and ground
cinnamon, for dusting
FOR THE CUSTARD FILLING
250g (9oz/1 ½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
4 strips orange zest
360ml (12 ½ fl oz/1 ½ cups) double
300ml (10fl oz/1 ¼ cups) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
50g (1 ¾ oz/6 tablespoons) cornflour
I am an advocate for pasteis de nata and I will tell anyone who’ll listen that Portuguese custard tarts are one of the best baked goods around. If they’re still listening, I’ll also tell them which bakery in Lisbon serves the best (it’s Manteigaria, if you’re asking). This recipe is my homage to these delightful Portuguese tarts. This recipe is notoriously hard to replicate at home as domestic ovens don’t generally get hot enough. Thankfully, I have come up with a workaround that replicates a bakery-style rack oven at home in a regular domestic oven.
For the custard filling, place 240ml (8.fl oz/1 cup) water, the sugar, cinnamon and orange zest into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat, cooking for a couple of minutes until the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
Lightly grease the baking tin and line the base with parchment paper. Arrange the shelves of the oven so two are very close together, leaving about a 13cm (5in) gap between them. On both shelves, place a pizza stone or baking steel, if you have one, otherwise use two stacked baking trays per shelf. You can make this recipe without the pizza stones/baking steels/ baking trays, but the effect won’t be quite as close to the real deal.
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), Gas Mark 5 30 minutes before the tart is ready to bake.
Unroll the puff pastry and roll out into a rectangle that is roughly 3mm (⅛in) thick. Trim the pastry into a neat 28 x 38cm (11 x 15in) rectangle and drape into the prepared baking tin.
Freeze for about 10 minutes or until the pastry is solid. Line the pastry case with a crumpled piece of parchment paper and fill with baking beans or rice.
Transfer to the rack you have assembled in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans/rice and parchment paper and bake for a further 10 minutes until lightly browned.
Brush the inside with the beaten egg yolks, then bake for a further 2 minutes, or until the yolks are set. Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 240°C (475°F), Gas Mark 9, or as hot as your oven will go.
To finish the custard filling, tip the cream, milk and vanilla into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the eggs, egg yolks and cornflour in a heatproof bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour the hot cream mixture over the eggs, whisking to combine, then pour the cream mixture back into the pan. Pour the sugar syrup into the pan, pouring it through a sieve to remove the cinnamon and orange. Place the pan over a medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to the boil and thickens. Immediately pour into the blind-baked tart case and spread evenly.
Bake on the rack in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the custard is burnished. As the tart is larger than a traditional custard tart, it won’t brown all the way to the middle before the egg overcooks, so take it out while the centre of the tart is still yellow. Leave to cool completely in the tin before serving.
To serve, dust with a little icing sugar and ground cinnamon, cut into portions and serve alongside a strong coffee.
This tart is best served on the day it is made and within a few hours of baking.
One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber is published by Kyle Books, priced £17.99. Photography: Edd Kimber