Bake It Fresh: Portuguese Lemon Tarts

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Recipe developer and food stylist Annie Rigg is a master of the most beautiful foods on Earth, so naturally her next cookbook is packed with colorful, radiant fruits. Incorporate these sweet elements into your favorite preparations and watch the Instagrams take themselves. 

My pastel de nata, or custard tarts, aren't quite classic, as they are laced with lemon, but hopefully they are simpler to make. The pastry dough, which is similar to puff, takes a bit of forward planning and needs to be started the day before you plan to bake. Nothing, in my opinion, compares to homemade, but if you're short on time, then store-bought all-butter puff pastry would make an acceptable substitute. They are best eaten on the day of making.

Reprinted with permission from Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits

Bake It Fresh: Portuguese Lemon Tarts
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to 24
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • A good pinch of sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 level tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 large egg yolks
  1. Start by making the dough: Pour the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt and 3/4 cup cold water, and mix until you have an almost smooth dough. Lightly dust the work surface with flour, remove the dough from the bowl, and knead very briefly until smooth. Pat into a square, cover with an upturned bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust the work surface with flour again and roll the dough into a neat rectangle three times as long as it is wide (about 18 x 6 inches) and with one of the shorter sides nearest to you. Mentally divide the rectangle of dough into thirds — each third a rough square shape — and spread 9 tablespoons of the butter evenly over the middle third. Fold the bottom third up to cover the butter and the top third down to make a neat square shape. Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise so that the open flap side is now on the left. Roll into a rectangle again and fold the bottom third up into the middle and the top third down again. Carefully wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and again roll out the dough into a rectangle (about 18 x 6 inches). Fold and roll the dough as before, then chill again for 1 hour.
  4. Lightly dust the work surface once again and roll out the dough into a neat rectangle about 16 x 20 inches. Spread the remaining butter over the surface, being careful not to tear the dough. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight spiral log, trim the ends, and cut the log in half to make handling easier. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and chill for about 4 hours or overnight until firm.
  5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the milk, ⅔ cup cold water, and the lemon juice slowly to just below boiling point. In a bowl, whisk the lemon zest with the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Pour in half the milk mixture, whisk until smooth, then return to the pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened and no longer tastes of cornstarch. Remove from the heat, pour into a clean bowl, and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool, then chill until needed.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly dust the work surface with flour and cut the dough logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Roll out each one to a thin disc about 4 inches across. Press the dough into the pans so that it comes up the sides. Don’t worry about trimming off the edges. Scoop a rounded teaspoonful of the custard into each hole. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes until the filling is tinged with brown and the dough is crisp and golden. Leave in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until cold.
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