Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A simple twist of taste

A new addition to the Casa Rosada breakfast table
I drew inspiration for this recipe from a bit of history, a tad tradition and a national treasure. The tart is based on the old tradition of using quinces to make a thick and delicious sweet paste - something that was exported from Portugal in the late middle ages and the forerunner of breakfast marmalade.The national treasure being the Pasteis de nata or Portuguese custard tart. Many tarts and pies at this time involved the pre-cooking of the fruit in a sweet syrup, reducing down to a thickish paste and then being topped with a cream custard before baking. I was lucky enough to have over produced   quince marmelada at Christmas so only had to resort to the store cupboard, but to make the paste from scratch is a bit more of a faff. Once the quince business has been taken care of this is a very easy tart to make, and fuses together a genuine taste of old England and latter day Portugal.Pasteis de nata vs.quince reduction - lets turn the oven on and get started.

Quince Custard tart

makes 18 tarts
150g (5oz) quince paste 
1/2 cup ( 5 fl oz )
Melt the quince paste with the orange juice in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir well until completely combined, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

FOR THE PASTRY AND THE CUSTARD
500g Massa folhada (puff pastry)
140g single cream
4 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
A dash of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 230C /450 gas 8
In a saucepan, beat the egg yolks and sugar till thick. Beat in the cream gradually and carefully heat, stirring till the mixture thickens to a custard. Be careful not to overheat or it will curdle. Remove at once and cool completely. Roll out the pastry to make 2  22cm x 18cm (10x 8in) oblongs and roll each one into a swiss roll shape.Cut into slices 2 cm thick. This is a clever technique, because instead of expanding upwards the puff pastry pushes outward, making a deep cup shape for each tart. Spread the rounds into into muffin pans, pressing down thoroughly with both thumbs. Scoop into each tart 1/2 teaspoon of of quince paste followed by a dessert spoon of the custard. Bake until the pastry is golden and the top is caramelised (10-15 minutes ).
O COZINHEIRO`S TIP:
I have kept the top custard very simple so that the taste of the quince can be appreciated with every mouthful.Mmmmmm - I cant wait for the next batch. These are pure heaven.
They have to be eaten on the day they are made ,so halve the quantities if you need less.
These Belem style breakfast bites don´t last long at Casa Rosada.

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