We have just finished our run of Portuguese supperclubs. It has been a lot of fun & our guests seem to have loved the food. The most popular dishes were the marinated carrots, prawns and the custard tart. We even had guests who never eat desserts who cleaned their plates & asked for seconds.
Lots of the recipes are already on the blog, just look under the category Portugal to find them. We have had a few requests for the custard tart recipe so here it is.
This is a combination of several Portuguese custard recipes. We wanted to make Pastel de Nata but it is a lot of work to create individual tarts for 40 people & we just did not have time. The custard for a Pastel can be a little too runny to be used in a large tart so we merged a few different recipes to make a tart which holds its shape on the plate but dissolves into creamy goodness in the mouth.
It has all the characteristics of a classic Portuguese custard as we use a flavoured sugar syrup. This is what sets Portuguese custard apart. It makes the texture incredibly luxurious, sweet & creamy. I love an English custard but a Portuguese one is far superior.
It is not difficult to make this but you do need to be precise & patient (not my key skills so if I can do it anyone can). I recommend you read the recipe thoroughly before starting & have everything measured out & your equipment to hand. Also you need a good pastry case, no cracks. I also glaze it with egg yolk & cook it for a further 3 minutes to harden the glaze. This keeps the pastry crisp. I don’t use sweetened pastry as the custard is very sweet.
Portuguese Custard Tart
You will need a 9″ tart case, a couple of saucepans (preferably with a heavy bottom), spatula, sieve & heat proof bowl.
9-10″ Shortcrust pastry shell (glazed if you can)
200g caster sugar
2″ cinnamon stick
2 pieces lemon rind
470 ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
It is a good idea to take the cream out of the fridge about half an hour before you start so it is not fridge cold.
1. Place the sugar, water, cinnamon & lemon rind in a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat to make a sugar syrup. This will take about 10 minutes. It needs to thicken & the flavours of cinnamon & lemon should infuse. The consistency should be like honey. Once that is achieved remove the cinnamon & lemon.
2. Put 220ml cream into a pan to warm over a low heat – You should start to heat the cream just before the sugar syrup is ready.
3.Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the flour & milk into a slurry. Once the cream has become hand hot but before it starts to boil mix it into the flour & milk & return to the pan.
4. Add the egg yolks & vanilla & heat very gently for 3-4 minutes to start cooking the yolks. Never boil this mixture, it pays to take your time. If you have a thermometer use it to get the mixture to about 70 degrees. If not just use your finger to feel when it starts to get hot – you should not burn yourself as the temp should be well under 100. If it is steaming then it is getting too hot.
5. Now start to add the sugar syrup in a thin stream while stirring continuously while the pan is still on a low heat. Mix it vigorously until it is all incorporated & then remove from the heat & add the rest of the cream. Mix well.
6. Sieve the mixture into a jug. It is important to sieve it for a silky smooth texture
7. Pour into the pastry case & bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. The custard will bubble up & should brown on top.
8. To check if it is ready open the oven & tap the shelf, the tart should wobble slightly & it should be mostly browned on top.
Take it out of the oven & let it cool completely before serving. If you are not going to eat it once cooled store it in the fridge & take it out at least half an hour before you want to serve it. It is best to cut it with a hot knife.
Making this tart is not that difficult but it is precise. Make sure to weigh your ingredients carefully.
Cook the custard very gently – be patient.
I have made this many times now & noticed that if the sugar syrup is too reduced the final texture is thicker so don’t let it over reduce. The tart will still be great but the custard will feel thicker & a bit cloying when you eat it.
If I did not sieve it then lumps were inevitable.
Using good quality eggs gives a richer flavour.
Port Poached Plums
2″ cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1. Put the port, 50g sugar, cinnamon & star anise into a sauce pan & bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.
2. Cut the plums in half & remove the stones.
3. Place the fruit into the syrup, I usually start with the cut side down but as long as they are all the same way it doesn’t matter too much. If the liquid does not almost cover the plums then add a little water.
4. Keep the liquid barely simmering to poach the plums really gently. The cooking time will depend on their ripeness.
5. After about 5 minutes turn the fruit over & keep poaching until they are soft. Use a sharp knife to test them. You should feel a little resistance but not much. If you are unsure just make a couple more than you need & taste them to see when they are ready. Remove them from the liquid & place on a plate or something to cool.
6. Once the plums are all out of the port turn up the heat to boil the liquid to thicken it. At this point it may need more sugar. That is up to your taste really. Let the liquid boil down until it is almost thick enough & then test the flavour. If it needs more sugar add it now & continue to boil until the port has formed a thick syrup. You can strain it at this point to remove the spices and any pieces of plum which have broken off or just leave it a bit rustic.