The truth is that I do not even know what to call this recipe, because the recipe for the authentic pastéis de nata (or pastéis de Belém) is a secret. So I guess this is my version. Even though they are delicious, it has been confirmed by a Portuguese, that they do not look like the real ones. So, here is my attempt of Pastéis de nata that turned out to be an “epic fail.” Eh, but an “epic fail” that is very yummy !!
Well, I’m going to explain you the story because it’s funny and it’s an example of one of my baking failures. You guys are always telling me how well I bake everything and how talented I am 🙂 So take this as an example for knowing that not everything I do is as perfect as you think. I have plenty of stories with creams that separated, cakes that collapse and replicas of traditional sweets that do not taste like the original ones. And this is an example of those small failures that I have accumulated during my baking career.
In the company I work for, there are people from all over the world, literally, we are a beautiful team of different backgrounds and colors. And in my department there is a guy from Portugal who one day decided to have a housewarming party for his new apartment and very kindly invited us all. As I did not want to get there empty-handed, I decided to bake something sweet.
I am not sure at which moment exactly I thought it could be a good idea to bake something like that for a Portuguese… Most likely I had an excess of ego, or just did not even think about it twice. But it was clear that baking these cakes without having ever tried them, was not a good idea. I researched a little online and found several recipes, all very similar. So I threw myself into the pool and, as I have already told you, it was a fiasco.
The guy’s face when he tried one of them was a poem, and not because they are bad, because I assure you that they taste really good, but according to him they do not look anything like the originals. Somehow kindly he tried to explain to me that “what I had done was not the same.” In summary, we ate them all, because I assure you that they are really yum. Let’s be honest, in the end they are just puff pastry with pastry cream, being as simple as that, no way they can be bad.
The lesson I learned is that it is not a good idea to risk making versions of those typical sweets from pastry shops which use a secret recipe. And of course, I also learned that it is not a good idea to replicate something that you have never tried by simply trusting what you find on the internet. The good part of the whole story is that he told me he would bring me the authentic ones from Belem’s bakery someday. So at least I earned some free cakes 🙂
Pastéis de nata
Custard stuffed puff pastry mini pies
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 4 egg yolks
- 200 ml of whipping cream
- 50 ml milk
- 75 gr white sugar
- 30 gr cornstarch
- 1 cinnamon stick
- The skin of 1 lemon
In a saucepan, heat the milk together with the whipping cream, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. When it starts to boil, remove from heat.
Meanwhile, in a bowl put the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch, and mix everything until combined. Pour the infused milk and cream into the bowl at a time and mix using a strainer so that the cinnamon stick and lemon peel do not pass.
Again pour the mixture into the saucepan you had used, and simmer it while stirring so that it does not stick until the cream becomes very thick.
Pour the cream in a bowl and let it cool down to room temperature Preheat the oven to 250ºC.
Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator, stretch it a little with a rolling pin and cut it with a cookie cutter or a glass, about 10 cm in diameter. You must get 12 circles.
Grease a muffin or cupcake pan with a little butter or oil.
Place the 12 puff pastry circles in the holes, pressing the sides so that they are not wavy and cover the holes well.
Fill with the cream that we have prepared previously, approximately up to 2/3 of each hole's capacity, trying not to reach the edge from the sides.
Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until you see that the surface is golden. Remove from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes and then unmold the cakes and let them cool completely on a rack.
If you want to vary this recipe, you can change the cinnamon stick with a vanilla bean, or replace the lemon peel with an orange peel. This way you will get some very delicious pastéis de nata but with a different aroma.
Keep an eye on cakes in the oven so they don't burn. If the surface is browning too much but the puff pastry is not ready yet, cover the top with aluminum foil.