Portuguese custard tart traybake for picnics or parties

The custard filling for this tart is scented with fragrant orange, vanilla and cinnamon

Portuguese custard tart traybake.

Portuguese custard tart traybake.

 

Traybakes are a hit during the summer months; they are wonderful portable treats for picnics or garden parties, ideally portioned with each slice serving up just the right amount of sweetness.

Following my recipe for Basque cheesecake bars a few weeks back, it seems fitting to continue my sweet culinary tour of the Mediterranean with another gorgeous traybake recipe. This week it is a take on the classic pastel de nata, or Portuguese custard tart.

Traditionally, these sweet tarts are baked individually in little puff pastry cases, sweet and crisp and layered with cinnamon. The pastry is then topped with a thick custard and baked at a high temperature to give a beautifully blistered and shiny burnt top. The result is a perfect custard tart teeming with texture. I have taken away the complex steps here to make one giant tart, easily sliced and served into individual bars.

The pastry is an all-butter store-bought puff, and while puff pastry is one of my favourite things to make from scratch, realistically, most of us don’t have the time or patience. The raw dough keeps incredibly well in the freezer. I like to roll it out and line my baking tin, then pop it back in to freeze for a few days or until I’m ready to bake. To make the tart, I blind bake the pastry first by lining the tin with parchment and uncooked rice. I keep the rice in a container in the cupboard for this sole purpose, but use baking beans if you have them.

The filling is a beautiful thick-set custard, scented with orange, vanilla, and cinnamon. I make a quick syrup and infuse it, this is then added to the eggy custard mixture. This adds gorgeous layers of flavour to the tart, so don’t skip this step.

The tart is baked at a particularly high temperature, this ensures the authentic scorched top and crisp, flaky pastry. Once baked, it needs to cool completely at room temperature before slicing. Like any baked puff pastry dessert, this tart is best eaten on the day it has made, as it starts to soften the longer its kept.

Recipe: Portuguese custard tart traybake

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