With their buttery flaky pastry, silky smooth custard filling and blistered blackened tops, it’s not hard to see why pastéis de nata are having a moment. But what if I told you there was a shortcut? And that making them is actually pretty easy! 

Pastéis de Nata have been taking over South African bakery counters for a while now. But with their hefty price tag, you’ll be glad to know that I’ve cracked THE recipe that means you won’t ever have to buy them again! I also have a clever little shortcut that makes them an easy enough bake to get from the making part to the eating part in about an hour. 

First up, let’s get the elephant out of the room. Is it ‘pastel or pasteis?’. One pastel de nata, two pastéis de nata. Got it? Good. 

Secondly, don’t be tempted to reduce the sugar content in the filling. It helps stabilize the custard and allows it to withstand the ridiculously high temperature leaving it silky smooth and stops it from splitting. This leads me to my third point; no, the oven temperature is not a typo. In fact, you’re going to want to crank your oven to as high as it can go and hope Eskom keeps up. The burnt tops and charred little edges are what make these irresistible – they need the bitterness to counteract the sweet custard. Don’t be afraid to take it right to the edge. 

When it comes to flavouring the custard, only real vanilla beans will do. I’ve used my Gourmet Vanilla Beans which are plump, juicy, and have a beautiful fragrance that infuses loads of flavour into the creamy custard. If you haven’t tried my vanilla beans yet, you can shop them over HERE on my online shop. They are SO worth the investment. In this recipe, I scrape out the vanilla seeds and use them to infuse the milk, I then place the scraped bean into a jar of sugar to infuse. Once it has spent about a week in the sugar, I place it back in the jar it comes in and add vodka or rum to make my own vanilla extract! One vanilla bean really does go far when you know how to use it!

As for the shortcut? While purists will undoubtedly tell you that you should make your own pasteis pastry from scratch, a good butter puff pastry does the trick – especially when it is brushed with butter and layered with sugar for extra crunch. 

If you don’t already follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I’ve just kicked off a ‘Vanilla 101’ series where I’ll be sharing info, tips, tricks, and recipes every day for the next month all about vanilla beans. If you decide to make these pastéis de nata, please tag me on social media – I’d love to see how yours come out! 

Find the recipe below or download the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

VANILLA BEAN PASTÉIS DE NATA

Makes 12

 

1 x 400g ready-made butter puff pastry, refrigerated 

30g salted butter, melted, for brushing

30g golden caster sugar or fine demerara sugar, for sprinkling

40g cake flour or 20g cornstarch

60ml milk

6 large egg yolks

160ml water

200g sugar (white or brown)

1 x 1cm cinnamon stick

125ml milk

125ml cream

1 x The Kate Tin Gourmet vanilla bean, seeds scraped*

 

Start by making the pastry cases for the Pastéis de Nata. Unroll the chilled puff pastry onto a clean surface. Roll the pastry out using a rolling pin so that it’s 5mm thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar.  Starting at the short end, roll the pastry up tightly to form a log.  Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 12 equal pieces.  Brush a 12-hole muffin pan with melted butter.  Working with one piece of pastry at a time, place the pastry cut-side up onto a surface and flatten it with the palm of your hands. Use your fingertips to flatten the pastry out to form a large circle big enough to fit into the muffin hole.  Press the pastry into the muffin tin so it fits up the sides. The pastry should be as thin as possible. Continue with the remaining pieces of pastry. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Whisk the flour (or cornstarch) and milk together in a medium bowl and set aside.  Place the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and gently bring to the boil.  In the meantime, place the milk, cream and vanilla seeds into a small saucepan and gently bring to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and allow it to stand to infuse.  Once the syrup is simmering, slowly whisk the syrup into the cornstarch mixture in a thin steady stream. Whisk in the infused milk in a thin stream. Slowly add the egg yolks while whisking. Strain the custard through a sieve (not too fine or you’ll lose all your vanilla seeds!).  Allow to cool completely.  Preheat your oven to 280 degrees celsius or as high as it can go.  Place the oven rack on the lowest shelf of your oven and preheat a baking sheet in the oven so it’s very hot.  Bake the Pastéis de Nata on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and starting to turn golden brown.  Move the Pastéis de Nata and the oven rack to the top shelf of your oven and continue to bake for another 4-6 minutes or until the tops are a deep golden brown and the custard is starting to blacken.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cooling on a rack. 

Note: Pastéis de Nata are best eaten on the day that they are made. The raw pastry cases and the custard can be stored (separately) in the fridge for up to 1 week. Simply fill and bake when needed. 

Vanilla Bean Pastéis de Nata
Yields 12
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 x 400g ready-made butter puff pastry, refrigerated
  2. 30g salted butter, melted, for brushing
  3. 30g golden caster sugar or fine demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  4. 40g cake flour or 20g cornstarch
  5. 60ml milk
  6. 6 large egg yolks
  7. 160ml water
  8. 200g sugar (white or brown)
  9. 1 x 1cm cinnamon stick
  10. 125ml milk
  11. 125ml cream
  12. 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped*
Instructions
  1. Start by making the pastry cases for the Pastéis de Nata. Unroll the chilled puff pastry onto a clean surface. Roll the pastry out using a rolling pin so that it’s 5mm thick. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a thin layer of sugar.  Starting at the short end, roll the pastry up tightly to form a log.  Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 12 equal pieces.  Brush a 12-hole muffin pan with melted butter.  Working with one piece of pastry at a time, place the pastry cut-side up onto a surface and flatten it with the palm of your hands. Use your fingertips to flatten the pastry out to form a large circle big enough to fit into the muffin hole.  Press the pastry into the muffin tin so it fits up the sides. The pastry should be as thin as possible. Continue with the remaining pieces of pastry. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Whisk the flour (or cornstarch) and milk together in a medium bowl and set aside.  Place the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and gently bring to the boil.  In the meantime, place the milk, cream and vanilla seeds into a small saucepan and gently bring to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat off and allow it to stand to infuse.  Once the syrup is simmering, slowly whisk the syrup into the cornstarch mixture in a thin steady stream. Whisk in the infused milk in a thin stream. Slowly add the egg yolks while whisking. Strain the custard through a sieve (not too fine or you’ll lose all your vanilla seeds!).  Allow to cool completely.  Preheat your oven to 280 degrees celsius or as high as it can go.  Place the oven rack on the lowest shelf of your oven and preheat a baking sheet in the oven so it’s very hot.  Bake the Pastéis de Nata on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and starting to turn golden brown.  Move the Pastéis de Nata and the oven rack to the top shelf of your oven and continue to bake for another 4-6 minutes or until the tops are a deep golden brown and the custard is starting to blacken.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cooling on a rack.
Notes
  1. Pastéis de Nata are best eaten on the day that they are made. The raw pastry cases and the custard can be stored (separately) in the fridge for up to 1 week. Simply fill and bake when needed.
The Kate Tin https://thekatetin.com/