More Than Burnt Toast invited me to her table
Scroll back up and look at that flaky pastry! The mouth feel of these flaky tender shards of buttery goodness shattering into transparent wisps of shredded delicate lusciousness is surreal. I had no frame of reference for a pastry like this. It is made in a similar (but much simpler) fashion as puff pastry, but is a completely different texture and experience. The pastry is the star.
Yet, the cinnamon scented eggy custard offers the perfect foil through it’s sweet creamy depth for this pastry. The filling coupled with the pastry is a celebration. A quiet celebration. This tart is not about flavour. It is all about texture and mouth feel and tickling that deep inner pleasure seeking core eliciting that little sideways smile. Yum. Yum. I made mini ones and ate six. I never do that.
When Valerie from More Than Burnt Toast invited me to her table, though, I am a committed reader of her fantastic (you must visit) site and look forward to each of her new posts (AND she is CANADIAN and a member of the “V club!!), I was a little hesitant. I don’t really do well with deadlines with my “hobby” website. There are too many other demands upon my time in “real life”, and this is a deadline free zone! However, I have always wanted to taste Portuguese Tarts. I was honoured by Valerie’s invitation, and we got to agree upon the date!! What fun I had “baking with Val” this past week! I learned a great deal (hers custard was much lighter than mine as she did them “properly” and finished hers first); I found I so much appreciated the gentle prod to do something out of my comfort zone. Make sure you visit her site to read about her experience making these tarts!
Invite a Blogger to Your Table is a new and innovative collaborative initiative by Val at More Than Burnt Toast. I have not yet participated in any group collaborative initiatives within the blogosphere, but this one enables the participants to set their own dates within the time frame given in the rules. I was tickled pink when Val invited me to her table to make these initially somewhat daunting Portuguese Tarts. I was a little worried about my level of success having never tasted one before. But, I have now invited Heavenly Housewife and Val to MY table and we will be posting our surprise before Valentine’s Day! This initiative by Val is going to create such a community of shared experiences and deepening friendships, so invite a blogger to YOUR table!
Here are her “rules”:
Your choice of recipe can be anything you would likeÂ it to be. Is there something you have been wanting to make and need feedback and encouragement from a friend to create on your blog? Is there a special dish that you just have to share sweet or savoury? Do you just want the fun of collaborating with other bloggers to come up with a tasty dish you feel you and your readers might enjoy. This is a fun event that creates friendships throughout the blogosphere. Invite someone you have followed for years or a perfect stranger. It is up to you!
- Choose a dish to prepare and invite 1 bloggerÂ 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.
- Decide upon a date that you can both mutually post your recipe within a 4 week time frame.
- Link back to More Than Burnt Toast somewhere in your post as the creator of this event: http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/
- Please feel free to use the Avatar/Badge above “Invite a Blogger to Your Table”.
- Once you have made your dish with your blogging friend or friendsÂ and posted it, you can choose toÂ STOP orÂ CONTINUE on and “invite another blogger to your table” to make somethingÂ DIFFERENT on a mutually agreeable date within the next 4 week time frame.
- Cut and paste these instructions into your post and contact a friend. Let magic happen and let’s get cooking!!!
I needed 16 tablespoons of butter at room temperature. Now, I know that 16 tablespoons is one cup, but I made sure I had them separated. Otherwise, why would it say 16 tablespoons instead of one cup?
The salt, flour and water went into my Thermomix bowl. You can do it in a mixer. It took seconds to form into a lovely little dough that needed a big rest.
All pictures following go with the instructions. If you need an image to go with the recipe, just scroll back up and take a look at my journey. You will see how beautiful this pastry dough is! It was SO easy to work with!
I could not get enough shots of this dough. It was so supple!
You will find that my syrup actually caramelized at 220Â°F and I had two thermometers (I never trust just one)… but, I knew it was not to have turned brown; however, the flavour was not deeply caramel. The colour is somewhat deceiving. I was going to make the filling again, but as this was still delicious, and the texture was a beautiful custard, I decided against it.
The recipe called for them to be dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon (I mixed mine together), but I found them better without it in both looks and taste.
Alfama’s Pastéis de Nata (Pastel de Belém) Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe by David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria
Ingredients for the pastry:
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (260g)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons water (190g)
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, stirred until smooth
Ingredients 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
- powdered sugar
Instructions for the dough:
Note: The secret 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 thin and folded neatly; you will need a thermometer to accurately gauge the custard.
- 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) (Scale the three ingredients into the TM bowl if using a Thermomix, mix for 10 seconds on speed 2 and knead for 10 seconds.)
- 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
- 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
- Brush excess flour off the top and trim any uneven edges: I found this to be important as later all edges need to match up (don’t be sloppy 🙂 )
- 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
- 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 (ensure all edges match as perfectly as possible as this will later effect the even “puffing up” of the pastry)
- 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
- Turn the dough packet 90° 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 (don’t forget the trimming and the matching of the edges as perfectly as possible)
- For the last rolling, turn the packet 90Â° 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
- 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 ensuring the ends are even and not rolling sideways or not having the middle stick out)
- Trim the ends and cut the log in half; wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or preferably overnight
Instructions for the custard:
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth; set aside
- Bring the sugar, cinnamon, and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 220Â°F (100Â°C); do not stir
- Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk; whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- Remove from the oven and allow the pastÃ©is 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
Note: Because home ovens can’t match the heat of those at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém where these treats were first made, your pastéis may not brown as much as the traditional tarts. These are best eaten warm the day they are made. If you prefer, the components can be refrigerated up to three days. The pastry can be frozen up to three months.
I completely enjoyed the time with you, Valerie, at your table! You do know how to have a good time in the kitchen!