A few years ago, my husband and I went on holiday to Lisbon in Portugal, and we fell in love with pasteis de nata, the amazing Portuguese custard tarts. Made with a buttery puff pastry and Portuguese custard, they are just delicious. When we got back home, we even found a bakery in our home town that specialised in making pasteis de nata – and we were so happy to be able to continue enjoying them.
But when my husband was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, they just became yet another yummy treat that he couldn’t have. Until now! Using shop-bought gluten free puff pastry, I have succeeded in making gluten-free pasteis de nata that are delicious and taste really authentic. Read on to find out how!
Gluten-free Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe
Ingredients for gluten-free Portuguese custard tarts:
To make these Portuguese custard tarts, you will need:
- 1 packet pre-made gluten free puff pastry (you could use shortcrust, but puff pastry is more authentic)
- 125g golden caster sugar
- 80ml water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- Lemon rind (a few pieces is fine, you don’t need the whole lemon!)
- 2 egg yolks and one whole egg
- 25g cornflour
- 150ml milk
How to make your gluten-free pasteis de nata:
1. First prep that pastry! Unroll your puff pastry to remove the baking paper from the roll. Then re-roll it so you end up with a sausage of pastry (yep! I know it seems counter-intuitive, but this is most similar to how real pasteis de nata are made in Portugal). Cut the sausage into sections about 1cm – 1.5cm thick. You should end up with about 12 of these.
2. For each of the pastry pieces, turn them sideways, and place them between two pieces of baking paper. Then roll them out with a rolling pin until you end up with thin discs of pastry about the size of your cupcake tray holes. Pop them into the cupcake tray.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
4. Next, make your custard! Proper Portuguese custard is made with a sugar syrup infused with cinammon and lemon rind. To do this, heat the water, sugar, lemon rind and cinnamon stick in a pan. You want to dissolve the sugar into the water and get the mixture hot, but not boiling.
5. Meanwhile, whisk the cornflour into the eggs. Heat the milk until it is warm but not boiling, and slowly pour over the egg and flour mixture, whisking as you go. Add the vanilla essence.
6. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon rind from your sugar syrup (carefully!). Pour the sugar syrup slowly over your eggs, milk and flour mixture, whisking constantly to form a runny custard.
6. Pour the custard into your pastry cases until they’re about three quarters full (see picture below).
7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, until golden on top.
8. Cool on a wire cooling rack. While the tarts are cooling, you can optionally sprinkle them with a mix of sugar and ground cinnamon, to really bring out the flavour. And voila! Your tarts are ready.
Tips and tricks for your gluten free pasteis de nata:
The instructions at step 2 might sound like a peculiar way to treat puff pastry! But they’re actually a reasonably close approximation of the way that pastel de nata pastry cases are made in Portugal. So don’t worry that your pastry will be ruined!
These gluten-free Portuguese custard tarts are definitely best on the day they’re made. They’ll keep overnight in the fridge, but much longer and you risk the pastry becoming very sad and soggy, which no one wants. In my household though, they rarely last that long!