Portugal's famous pastry - The Pastel de Nata

Portugal's famous pastry - The Pastel de Nata

If you have ever been fortunate enough to travel to Portugal and Lisbon in particular, then you have probably eaten a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart) and the taste of a delicious Pastel de Nata would transport you straight back to Portugal. These delicate tarts have become so famous and popular that you can find them all over the world. So even if you’ve never been to Portugal, you have probably tasted one at some point in Australia. 

Portugal has so many delicious pastries and desserts to choose from, but undoubtedly the Pastel de Nata is probably one of the best Portuguese pastries. A crispy flaky pastry surrounds the custard filling that has a hint of cinnamon and baked in a hot oven to create that famous caramelised top. Before you bite into one, don’t forget to flip it over and admire the signature swirl in the puff pastry. The hallmark of a great Pastel de Nata is simple - an egg custard that is perfectly balanced between smooth and firm with a buttery, flaky pastry that holds it form all the way through to the last bite. When you take your first bite of Pastel de Nata you should hear the most incredible cracking sound from the pastry before your taste buds are hit with the flavour of the beautiful custard. You will be in love after that first bite and you will be flooded with nostalgic memories of eating these in Portugal with the smell of coffee in the air. Paradise! 

Have you ever wondered how these incredible pastries came to be? Well for that we will need to go to the most famous place in the world to eat them, Belém.

The history of the Pastel de Nata dates back over 300 years to the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. In the 18th century the monks and nuns at the monastery would use egg whites to starch their clothes. As the monastery was busy it resulted in a lot of excess egg yolks. To spare the egg yolks from going to waste, the monks used them as the main ingredients in desserts and they eventually came up with their secret recipe for custard tarts.

Portugal had a liberal revolution in 1820 and thereafter the monks started selling their custard tarts from a nearby sugar refinery to support the monastery.  Eventually the monastery closed in 1834 and the recipe was sold to the owners of the sugar refinery who opened Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, which opened in 1837. Today Pastéis de Belém is the testament to the popularity of these custard tarts, selling 20 000 tarts a day! 

A Pastel de Nata is best enjoyed freshly baked and eaten on the same day. Usually the tart is sprinkled with canela (cinnamon), and often accompanied with a bica (a strong espresso coffee). You can enjoy them plain or with a dusting of icing sugar too, and they are a great accompaniment to a cappuccino as well. 

If, like me, you are craving a Pastel de Nata right now, follow the link below to order your box of Pastel de Nata which we deliver in Perth (see if your postcode is eligible for local delivery at checkout). You can also keep an eye on our social media to see when to come visit us at our next market! 

If you would like Pastel de Nata for your next event or function, please email us on hello@popii.com.au. We can also supply wholesale.

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