I ate Portuguese custard tarts each time I’ve been to Portugal. It is mandatory. You just can’t visit Portugal without eating (many of) them.
I packed and brought them home but, since a couple of weeks ago I had never tried to prepare them at home, believing it was such a difficult and complex tart.
I was completely wrong! It is easy! Much easier than you imagine.
I used common puff pastry we buy at the supermarket instead of making it by myself. The egg custard, which is the main taste of this tart is pretty easy to prepare, and it is that kind of custard you close your eyes while eating to better feel its great taste.
If you happen to Lisbon, visit the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém (Portuguese Custard Tarts Factory), close to Belém Tower. This old pastry shop only bakes these Portuguese custard tarts all day long. They only offer this kind of pastry. You can imagine the wonderful aroma you smell there.
To prepare the egg custard, you will need a vanilla bean (in this case I do not believe aromas will work as well to give the best result) and a cinnamon bark. These are the only two ingredients you may not already have at home.
I am giving you 30 minutes of oven as an idea. I baked them for about 25 minutes at 440°F/220°C. But keep an eye on the oven. The first time I baked at 250°C/482°F, and they were overcooked. In case, just rise the temperature at the end to give those typical darker spots on the custard.
- 1 puff pastry package (already rolled out is better)
- 250 ml of milk
- 1 piece of lemon zest
- 1 piece of cinnamon bark
- 1 vanilla bean
- 30 gr of flour
- 100 gr of sugar
- 75 ml of water
- 4 small yolks (or 3 big ones)
- Mix the flour with a small part of the milk.
- Put the remaining milk, the cinnamon bark, the vanilla bean and the lemon zest into a pan and turn on the gas.
- Just before it begins to boil, turn the gas off.
- Add the flour mixture and stir well.
- In another small pan, put the water with the sugar and turn on the gas. As soon as it begins to boil, consider 3 minutes and turn off the gas.
- Slowly add this syrup to the milk mixture.
- Let it cool.
- Divide the puff pastry in 12 equal parts.
- Line small molds/tins with it, creating a tart shape.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/440°F.
- One at a time add the yolks to the custard mixture.
- Pass it through a colander.
- Fill the molds/tins already covered with puff pastry with the custard.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, rising the temperature (if needed) during the last minutes to have the typical darker spots.
- Buon appetito!