The World Cup edition: Pasteis de nata

I only watch soccer every 4 years. I get too involved, too angry to support any team consistently. It’s better for everyone. And now it is World Cup 2018 and I am watching more games than ever, knowing the names of coaches and players even.

Here in South Africa we still reminisce about our hosting year, 8 years ago. Trying to recapture the magic and solidarity that 2010 brought, every office has drawn lots, supporting teams from Panama to Portugal.

Portugal. I have a soft spot for that team. Perhaps because I have a few Portuguese friends and their passion for the game is infectious. Perhaps because of Pasteis de Nata, the best Portuguese invention before Ronaldo.

Here’s my first (cheats) attempt:

Pasteis de Nata (makes 9-12)

3 free range egg yolks
90g caster sugar
1 T  plain flour
1 T corn flour
125 ml cream
185 ml milk
3 ml vanilla extract
1 roll of good quality frozen puff pastry, thawed (this is the cheat bit, I didn’t have time to make my own, with all the soccer matches to watch you know)


  1. Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl/jug and keep close by.
  2. Bring the milk, cream and sugar to a simmer in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. A thin based saucepan burns too quickly. Whisk continuously.
  3. Remove 3 tablespoons of milk mixture and add to the flours, whisking quickly to create a smooth slurry.
  4. Whisk the flour slurry into the milk mixture. Keep whisking for about 3 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken. Turn the heat right down so it does not burn while you do the next bit.
  5. Temper the egg yolks by adding 3 tablespoons of thickened milk to it, whisking after each addition. This is just to make double sure the yolks don’t become scrambled eggs.
  6. Now you can add the egg yolk mix to the main milk mix. Whisk over a low heat until incorporated, making sure no lumps have formed.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix.
  8. Pour the custard into a jug. This will make filling the cups easier. Place a piece of cling wrap on the surface and leave to cool.
  9. Preheat the oven to 220ºC
  10. Cut the puff pastry into circles slightly bigger than the holes of a 9 x 5 cm muffin pan and gently push into the holes.
    Tip: test one first before cutting out all the circles. My first attempt was too small. You want the pastry to reach almost over the edge of the tin.
  11. Pour the custard into the pastry cases to 1cm below the top.
  12. Bake for 18-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp and the custard is bubbling with tiny brown spots.
  13. Let them cool in the tin for about 5 mins and then turn them out onto a cooling rack. You might have to gently loosen them using a knife. Gently.
My pastry was a bit thick and over-filled

To quote Joao Francisco “When Portugal play, we will drink all day, it will be beautiful, just like the Portuguese flag”

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