Custard

A Crustless Portuguese Tart Where Custard Reigns Supreme

July 18, 2017

When I see crust in a recipe, I automatically think, "later." It’s not that I don’t love the bite of buttery, flaky crust (I do!). It’s that making it intimidates me, and buying puff pastry feels like cheating. So, when I saw traditional Portuguese custard tarts complete with laminated crust in Lisbon, Rebecca Seal’s latest cookbook, I stared longingly at the beautiful golden bites before sighing and flipping on.

But a few pages later, I discovered Lisbon gives a taste of both! Queijadas de leite, or milk tarts, essentially follow the same recipe, but skip the involved crust. The traditional milk and egg cupcakes are popular in both Portuguese bakeries and home kitchens, where they’re dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon.

Essentially miniature custard tarts with no pastry, these set in the oven to form scrumptious little puddings.
Rebecca Seal

Lisbon’s recipe is more like a super-custardy and dense canelé rather than eggy like a traditional custard tart. Take note not to whisk so much that you end up with a popover. It really just needs to be combined. But it's extremely easy to follow. Give it a try!

  • 500 ml (17 fl oz or 2 1/4 cups) whole milk
  • 25 g (1 oz) salted butter
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz or 3/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour; plus more to dust
  • 250 g (9 oz or 1 1/4 cups) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • grated zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • icing (confectioners' sugar), to serve
  • ground cinnamon, to serve

Grease 12 paper cupcake cases and dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 200° C/400° F.

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Heat the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter is completely melted.

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Top Comment:
“Obviously, it's infinitely quicker (a traditional Pastiera takes at least 2 hours in the oven, depending on how tall it is), much less intimidating and much more “everyday” than the whole pie -you may/may not like to know that a single slice has as many calories as a standard meal.”
— marcella F.
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Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl, add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract, then beat just until smooth. Next, pour in the hot milk-butter mixture in a steady stream while continuously whisking batter.

Using a ladle or jug, divide the batter, which will be very thin, evenly between the cases.

Place in the oven and cook for 25-35 minutes, until nicely browned on top and puffed up. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the cases—they will collapse, but don't worry, that's what they do. When they're cool enough to handle, transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with a little icing sugar and cinnamon.


Ready, Set, Custard!

Do you shy away from desserts with crusts? Any crustless favorites? Share in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynn D.
    Lynn D.
  • Vered Porzycki
    Vered Porzycki
  • George H
    George H
  • Daniela S.
    Daniela S.
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    Martin
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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.

7 Comments

Lynn D. October 12, 2017
A picture would be useful here.
 
Vered P. October 2, 2017
Can I make this in a one big baking dish?
 
George H. August 2, 2017
I am not ready for a custard that uses flour.
 
Daniela S. July 30, 2017
Thanks for this great recipe. They were a hit at my brunch today! I didn't use liners but my muffin pan. Reduced the sugar and added a few drops lemon juice. My friend already ordered them for her bday party :)
 
Martin July 25, 2017
"When I see crust in a recipe, I automatically think, 'later.'" The story of my life. I'll give these a try just because you said that.
 
marcella F. July 23, 2017
I often bake a kind of miniature "naked" Pastiera bites, using just the filling of this Easter classic from Naples (any recipe will do; bake in standard muffin cups at 175°C for 15-20 mins). Obviously, it's infinitely quicker (a traditional Pastiera takes at least 2 hours in the oven, depending on how tall it is), much less intimidating and much more “everyday” than the whole pie -you may/may not like to know that a single slice has as many calories as a standard meal.
 
Rhianna July 18, 2017
Are the paper liners necessary?

And how should these be stored?