I won’t bore you with excuses and explanations of why I haven’t blogged in a while. Instead, let me tell you about something I have been doing. I’ve been trying to make custard tarts.
I started buying custard tarts (or pasteis de nata) from Woolworths and Vida e Caffe as a treat every now and again (they are delicious at both those places). And then I thought “hey, I should make some, how hard can it be?” VERY hard, it turns out. So hard, that after a few failed attempts, I considered giving up baking altogether. I felt a bit better after reading fellow baker David Leite’s account of pasteis de nata research, though. And even better when I read that, according to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10 000 hours to become an expert at something. So I still have some hours to go.
Anyway, I eventually managed to make some half decent tarts. I used store bought puff pastry, which is probably not a great idea. But I figure I’ll perfect my puff pastry skills some other time. Here is the recipe, if anyone is interested. Oh, and if you have any tips, please do pass them along.
Pasteis de Nata (makes about 18)
- 300g puff pastry
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 60g flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- Mix a little bit of the milk in with the flour, to make a paste.
- In a saucepan, bring the rest of the milk, cream and vanilla to the boil. When it is boiling, add the flour paste, and bring to the boil again, stirring occasionally.
- In another saucepan, bring the water and sugar to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
- Pour the sugar syrup into the cream and milk mixture, mixing thoroughly. Strain through a sieve.
- Cook the strained mixture on low heat for a few more minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
- Let cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the egg yolks. (If the mixture is too hot, the yolks will cook, so be careful.)
- Cover the custard with cling film, and let it cool for an hour or two in the fridge.
- When the custard has cooled, preheat your oven to 200°C and butter your tart tins.
- Roll the puff pastry into a log (like you would a swiss roll).
- Cut the log into 18 discs.
- Press each disc into a mini tart tin. The dough will be very thin, but don’t worry, it will puff up in the oven.
- Fill the pastry cases 2/3 of the way with custard.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the pastry is brown.
- If your custard hasn’t browned, you can use a blowtorch to caramelize the tops. I do confess to doing this myself.