Pastéis de Nata (Custard Cream Pastries)

This recipe is the closest I can come to the famous Pastéis de Belém, those wonderful, flaky custard tarts we enjoyed in Lisbon. The original recipe is from Portuguese Cooking, published by Bonechi.

For a photo of a Pastéis de Belém, see Eating my way across Portugal.

For the pastry:

2 C flour
1/2 lb butter, at room temperature
Sift the flour into a bowl. Using a mixer, add enough lukewarm water to make a soft, smooth dough. Let stand 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cream the butter with a fork.
Knead the dough for a minute and then form it into a rectangle. Roll out the rectangle until it’s half an inch thick, then spread one-third of the butter over it, leaving a one-inch margin around the edge.
Fold the sheet into thirds with the butter inside, knead it briefly, then form into a rectangle again. Repeat the buttering-folding-kneading two more times. Let it stand for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough out one more time, and this time, cut it into 4-inch strips. Roll up each strip into a tight cylinder and slice it into 1/2-inch thick disks. Place each disk into a 4-inch pastry tin (not fluted — you could also use large muffin tins) and using wet fingers, work the pastry up the sides to form a rim. Don’t let the pastry go over the rim of the tin.

For the custard:

In a heavy saucepan, combine the following:
8 oz heavy cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 C sugar combined with 1 T flour
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from the heat. Let cool until it’s lukewarm, then pour into the pastries. Smooth the surface of each pastry and bake at 425 F until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and cool in the tins. To serve, remove from the tins and dust with confectioner’s sugar.