When I went to Lisbon earlier this summer there were a few things I wanted to do; explore the beautiful old town of Alfama, get some much needed sun at the beach AND eat my body weight in custard tarts or “pastéis de nata” as they’re known in Portuguese.
Luckily for me, I was treated to a Pastel de Nata Workshop at Pasteleria Batalha for my birthday, so not only did I get to sample (stuff my face) with some DELICIOUS pastries, but I also got to learn how to make them.
Pastelaria Batalha is a family run business in the heart of the city. The family have won lots of awards including the third Best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon in 2018.
Before starting the workshop we were treated to some very tasty treats from the bakery and met the lovely João, who owns and runs the business. Following a quick ice breaker (telling the group what your favourite dessert is, which is a really tough question!), we put on our flattering (ahem) hairnets and got to work in the kitchen.
During the workshop we got a little history about the bakery. João was literally born into the food business and is a fifth generation baker. His passion for baking and the love and care he puts into the process made the whole experience fantastic.
All kitchen equipment was provided, as were the ingredients. We were given clear step by step instructions, first on how to make the pastry, then the filling, followed by an nervous 10-minute wait of watching them in the oven.
We had about eight people in our session and everyone had turns in all the steps. My personal highlight was filling the tarts…mainly because I got to use a really cool utensil to do it!
Throughout the workshop João was really helpful and made sure everyone understood. Everyone got to make three of their own tarts and once the baking was complete, we were all treated to a drink of our choice to celebrate a job well done. I chose a sour cherry liqueur (aka Ginjinha), which I’m told is also a Portuguese speciality!
We were given cute little boxes to take ours home in and were sent the recipe via email in the same afternoon, which I’ve kindly been allowed to share in the blog.
This is João’s own personal recipe, so all instructions have come directly from him as has the featured image in this article.
- 325g/11oz plain flour
- 175ml water
- 10g/0.3oz salt
- 250g/8oz margarine
(OR you could use a sheet of shop–bought puff pastry)
- 600g/21oz granulated sugar
- 100g/4oz plain flour
- 1 litre of milk
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 170g/6oz of egg yolks (about 10 eggs)
- Put the flour and the salt in the food processor. Turn it on and steadily pour in the water. If you don‘t have a food processor, you can do this manually too. Simply put the flour and the salt in a bowl and open a hole in the centre. Pour the water into the hole and start mixing with your hands until all ingredients have blended into a uniform ball of dough.
- Lightly flour a clean surface and use your rolling pin to roll the dough into a sheet of about 1cm thick.
- Make sure the margarine is room temperature and not too hard to work with. Then put it in the center of the pastry and fold over the right and left sides of the sheet of dough, overlapping in the middle. This is the moment when you can unload your frustrations and use the rolling pin to hit the dough quite hard, to ensure the margarine in the middle gets softer and mixes with the dough.
- Fold the bottom third up to cover the middle third and the top third down. Seal the dough gently by pressing down on the edges with your rolling pin. Repeat this step. In total, you‘ll need to fold the dough twice.
- Roll out the dough into a long rectangle, keeping the edges fairly square and the sides straight. Then roll the dough to form a long “sausage–like” tube. If you are using store–bought puff pastry, butter it generously on the surface, and roll it to form a tube like the one in the photo below.
- Put the sugar and the flour together in a bowl, and mix well with your hands to make sure there are no lumps.
- Place a saucepan on the stove and bring the milk with the lemon zest and the cinnamon to a boil.
- Once the milk has boiled, whisk in the sugar and flour, slowly but steady. Do not stop stirring until the milk becomes thick.
- Once the milk reaches a custardy consistency, take it out of the heat and allow it to cool down.
- Once it is cool, mix in the egg yolks and stir. Do not do this while the milk is still hot.
- Cut slices from the roll of puff pastry and place them horizontally in each mold.
- Spread the puff pastry into the mold, working the dough from the center upwards and around, using your thumb. Pastel de Nata molds can be purchased at Pastelaria Batalha or online on Amazon. If you buy the original Pastel de Nata tin molds, make sure to follow this procedure before using them for the first time: place them empty in the oven for at least 30 minutes. They will darken and be ready to be used for longer. After each use, do not wash them to avoid rusting. Simply clean them with a paper towel.
- Make sure each mold has pastry just a little above the edge.
- Fill each mold with the previously prepared custard.
- Pre–heat the oven to 250C.
- Place the Patel de Nata molds in an oven tray and bake for 12 minutes. Halfway through the baking process, turn the tray the other way to make sure all tarts are cooked evenly.
- When you finally open the oven, shake the tray a little. If the tarts jiggle like Jell–O, leave them in for one or two more minutes. If they look solid, it means they are cooked through and through.
- Take the tarts out of the oven and let them rest at room temperature for at least 15 mins. Then, sprinkle with cinnamon powder to taste and enjoy!
If you’re heading to Lisbon, I can not recommend Pastelaria Batalha’s workshop enough. The bakery had a lovely, family friendly feel and João is an expert in baking. Plus, you get to sample the pastries AND get a free liquor!
To find out more about the workshop or to book on, you can find out more on their Air BnB page.