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COOKING WITH THE CHARLES: The taste of our first trip to Portugal

Portuguese pasteis de nata
Portuguese pasteis de nata

We have just returned from our first ever trip to Portugal and I managed to eat about 15 of these in five days (I really need to get back to the gym).

From my first bite, I was addicted. Sweet creamy custard, a flaky pastry case and an almost creme brulee-ish top. I will be dedicating significant time to perfecting these, believe me.

INGREDIENTS

○ 320g sheet of puff pastry

○ 375ml whole milk

○ 45g plain flour

○ 2 strips of pared lemon zest

○ 1 cinnamon stick

○ 185ml water

○ 375g caster sugar

○ 7 large egg yolks

METHOD

○ 1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to 20cm x 30cm. Roll the pastry tightly, from the short side, into a log and cut the log into 12 even sized rounds.

○ 2. Place one disc into the cup of a muffin tin, swirl-side up. Using wet fingers, carefully press the pastry up the sides with your fingers, working from the centre out, until the pastry just pokes over the top. Repeat with the remaining pieces of pastry. Chill for 20 minutes.

○ 3. For the custard, pour the milk into a pan and whisk in the flour. Add the strip of lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer, whisking ontinuously. Cook for 2-3 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat.

○ 4. Tip the sugar into a small pan with the water. Heat gently to melt the sugar, then increase the heat and boil until the syrup reaches the short thread stage (106C-112C). Gradually whisk the boiling syrup into the milk mixture.

○ 5. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and strain over the milk mixture, whisking continuously until combined. Place a sheet of cling film over the surface and leave to cool, then remove the strip of lemon zest and cinnamon stick.

○ 6. Heat the oven to 240C. Pour the custard into the pastry cases to 1cm below the top, then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp and the custard is bubbling with tiny brown spots.

○ 7. Remove from the oven, cool in the tin for five minutes, then gently turn out the tarts and leave to cool on a wire rack.