Portuguese Custard Tarts – The Hieronymites Got This Right

I’ve made custard tarts before, but never the world-famous Portuguese custard tarts, and I’m thrilled to report the results were shockingly good. This really was one of the best...
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I’ve made custard tarts before, but never the world-famous
Portuguese custard tarts, and I’m thrilled to report the results were
shockingly good. This really was one of the best pastries I’ve ever enjoyed, custard
or otherwise. 

Which is a good thing, since they do require a bit of effort to
produce. The recipe itself is simple, using just a few basic ingredients, but
there are numerous steps, and a certain amount of finesse is required, but the
results are so worth it. After watching a few dozen videos on the technique, I
decided to try the short cut version first, which uses frozen store-bought puff
pastry. The results were not good. Since puff pastry is leavened with yeast, and
contains so many more layers of butter and dough, my crust turned out too
thick, and gummy, and wasn’t nearly as thin and crispy as it should’ve been. It
may have been my technique, but officially I’m blaming the dough.

So then I attempted an “authentic” dough recipe from scratch,
which was infinitely better. It’s a little tricky to work with, since the dough
is very sticky, but I think that’s one of the keys here. Seems like the extra
moisture in the dough, which is activated by the very hot oven, is what creates
the signature flaky, crispy texture.

As far as the custard goes, it’s a relatively simple
procedure, and we even streamlined one of the steps. You’ll have to decide
whether you’re going to include lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla, which are
apparently considered optional ingredients in Portugal, but I really enjoy the
flavor, and wouldn’t change a thing. Regardless of what you decide to add, or
not add to yours, like I said in the video, these should be on everyone’s baking
bucket list. So, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!



For the dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup cold water

Note: adjust with more flour or water to achieve what’s
shown in the video

1 stick (4 ounces) very soft, high-quality unsalted butter

For the sugar syrup:

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)

zest from 1 lemon

For the custard base:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups milk

6 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Bake tarts at 550 F. for 12 minutes or until the pastry is
browned and bubbly, and the tops start to blister and caramelize.

–>



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