Origin of the pastel de nata
Portugal͛s towns and cities streets are dotted with pastelerias selling large selections cakes, bread and other sweet pastries, the king of which is the Pastel de Nata.
It is narrated that over 300 years ago the monks in the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, a civil parish west of Lisbon, created the Pastéis de nata. The monks and nuns used egg whites to starch their clothes, and used the left over egg yolks to develop a host of desserts, the most famous being the Pastel de Nata. With the decline of the monastic system in Portugal, the monasteries required other sources of income for support, and began selling the pastries to raise money. When the Jerónimos Monastery eventually shut in 1834 the recipe was sold to a family in Belem who until this day run the Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem.
The Jerónimos Monastery is a now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a major tourist attraction for visitors to Lisbon and is normally followed by a stopover at the Fabrica de Pasteis de Belem.
What exactly is a pastel de nata?
A pastel de Nata is a custard tart, often also known as an egg tart. It comprises a crisp, flaky pastry filled with a smooth creamy custard, and is baked at a very high temperature to give it a signature caramelised appearance. These sweets are labour-intensive to make but at Café de Nata we pride ourselves on the freshness of our ͚Natas͛. Our recipe is a secret too, but the key is in our light flaky pastry. Our Chef Team prepares cream and dough every morning, and we bake throughout the day to ensure our products are fresh. We never bake pre-frozen natas.
In addition to the Classic Nata, we also make Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Apple & Cinnamon, Coconut and Chocolate Natas.