PASTEIS DE NATA
For the dough
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface 1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
For the custard
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk, divided
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, whisked
For the top
To make the dough fit a stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix the flour, salt, and water until a soft, pillowy dough forms that pulls away from the side of the bowl.
Generously flour a work surface and pat the dough into a square. Flour the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough into a +/- 45 cm square. As you work, use the scraper to lift the dough to make sure the underside isn’t sticking to your work surface.
Brush the excess flour off the top of the dough, trim any uneven edges, and, using a small offset spatula, dot and then spread the left 2/3 portion of the dough with a little less than 1/3 of the butter being careful to leave a 2cm plain border around the edge of the dough.
Neatly fold the unbuttered right 1/3 of the dough (using the pastry scraper to loosen it if it sticks) over the rest of the dough. Brush off any excess flour, then fold over the left 1/3 of the dough. Pat down the dough with your hand to release any air bubbles, and then pinch the edges of the dough to seal. Brush off any excess flour.
Turn the dough 90° to the left so the fold is facing you. Lift the dough and flour the work surface. Once again roll it out to a 45 cm square, then dot the left 2/3 of the dough with 1/3 of the butter and smear it over the dough. Fold the dough as directed above.
For the last rolling, turn the dough 90° to the left and roll out the dough to a 45 X 52cm rectangle, with the longer side facing you. Spread the remaining butter over the entire surface of the dough.
Using the spatula as an aid, lift the edge of dough closest to you and roll the dough away from you into a tight log, brushing the excess flour from the underside as you go. Trim the ends and cut the log in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Make the custard
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 1/4 cup milk until smooth. Bring the sugar, cinnamon, and water to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°C. Do not stir.
Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, scald the remaining 1 cup milk, do not boil. Whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture.
Remove the cinnamon stick and then pour the sugar syrup in a thin stream into the hot milk-and-flour mixture, whisking briskly. Add the vanilla and stir for a few minutes until luke warm and not hot. Whisk in the yolks, strain the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. The custard will be thin; that is as it should be. (You can refrigerate the custard for up to 3 days.)
Assemble and bake the pastries
Place an oven rack in the top third position and heat the oven to 280’C. Remove a pastry log from the refrigerator and roll it back and forth on a lightly floured surface, cut each log in 12 pieces about 1 ½ cm in diameter. Place 1 piece pastry dough, cut side down, in each well of a nonstick 12 muffin pan.
With your thumb in the middle of the pastry flatten it against the bottom of the cup, then smooth the dough up the sides. The bottom should be slightly thinner than the sides.
Fill each cup 3/4 full with the cooled custard. Bake the pastries until the edges of the dough are frilled and brown, about 12 to 15 minutes for the classic tins. Keep a close eye on them.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack and cool until just warm. Sprinkle the pasteis generously with confectioners’ sugar, then cinnamon and serve. Repeat with the remaining pastry and custard. These are best consumed the day they’re made.