A few years ago when I took a trip to Hong Kong, I also had a chance to visit Macau. The infamous Portuguese custard tart was the number one food on my list to try out. My friend in Macau brought me to Lord Stow's Bakery, which is extremely popular with the tart. The multi-layered puff pastry is crispy and the filling is silky and full of egg flavor.
Portuguese custard tart (Pasteis de Nata) is different from Chinese egg tart. It is not an overbaked or "burnt egg tart." Although the crust is similar, the custard is different. Many copycat versions use the same custard in making Chinese egg tart and bake until brown spots appear on the tart and call it Portuguese custard tart. Portuguese custard filling uses heavy cream and milk instead of water, and egg yolk only instead of a whole egg. In addition, some other recipes use cinnamon as a spice. But most important is the addition of corn starch. It is used to stabilize the custard so that it can be baked at a high temperature.
To illustrate my point, below are some pictures I took from a cookbook devoted exclusively to egg tarts:
On page 34 is the recipe for making the custard filling of a regular egg tart: 2 eggs, 30g sugar, 60g milk and 280g water. Bake at 230C/446F for 18 minutes.
And a few pages later is the recipe of the Portuguese egg tart, using the same crust as their egg tart recipe. The custard filling: 2 eggs, 30g sugar, 60g milk, 280g water, 5g cream. Bake at 230C/446F for 18 minutes.
The recipes for both tarts virtually use exactly the same ingredients, oven temperature and baking time!! I really wonder how they will give you two different tarts! Lesson learned: money wasted in buying this kind of lousy cookbook.
Recipe references: Leitesculinaria.com, Portuguesediner.com, Kitchen Tigress
正宗葡撻有别於 港式酥皮蛋撻, 它不是焗焦了的蛋撻。市面上的葡撻食譜，不外乎是與港式蛋撻無異，但正宗葡撻的蛋漿是用蛋黃、奶油及牛奶，有些更加入肉桂粉，味道比較濃郁，與港式蛋撻的味道與口感都不同。最重要的是加了玉米粉，以致蛋液在高溫下不會焗過熟。
食譜參考： leitesculinaria.com, Portuguesediner.com, Kitchen Tigress
Ingredients to make a dozen tarts: 做一打葡撻的材料
Puff Pastry: (see notes) 酥皮
185g cake flour 低筋麵粉
96g water 水
1 tsp sugar 糖
30g unsalted butter, softened 無鹽牛油，室溫
96g unsalted butter, cold 無鹽牛油，雪凍
Custard filling: 蛋液
2 egg yolks 蛋黃
260g whole milk 全脂牛奶
60 heavy cream 奶油
60g sugar 糖
1 tbsp corn starch 玉米粉
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 雲呢哪香油
To make puff pastry:
1) Put all the puff pastry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2) Roll out the dough into a big sheet. Place the cold butter block in the center and wrap it up in the dough.
3) Roll out into a rectangle with the longer side towards you. Fold the two sides so that they meet at the middle and fold together again.
5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 two more times, for a total of 3 times. 4x4x4=64 layers!
6) Take out the dough and roll out to a rectangular shape of about 3-4 mm thick and 12 inches long. Roll up from the long side into a log and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
8) With the cut side up, press each dough piece onto a tart mold. Dip your thumbs on flour to prevent sticking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or frozen for long term storage.
To make custard filling:
1) Put milk, cream, sugar, yolks and corn starch into a small pot. Stir well.
2) Under medium to low heat, whisk constantly with a whisk or spatula. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken (about 165F), remove from heat.
3) Put the pot in a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Add vanilla extract. Stir well and leave to cool completely. Pass it through a sieve if there are lumps.
5) Preheat oven to 485F. Fill each tart with the custard to about 5 mm from the rim and bake for 30-35 minutes or until brown spots appear on the surface and the bubbling stops. Keep an close eye on them for the last 15 minutes. Serve warm.
1) The process of preparing the puff pastry dough can be stopped and refrigerated overnight until you are ready to resume.
2) To save time, store bought frozen puff pastry is a good option.