MOST people have chosen to cancel, or have had their holidays sadly cancelled, over the last few month.

As the coronavirus rose in other countries we took advice from the Foreign Office and now flights have been suspended for an initial period for all leisure trips abroad that are not considered ‘essential’.

The travel industry has been dealt a particularly hard blow.

This has especially hit airlines – already operating on a tight profit margins, they have been forced to cancel thousands of flights thanks to a plunge in demand.

A popular destination is Portugal. I bet a lot of you are having withdrawal symptoms missing out on your beloved Portuguese custard tarts which have taken the nation by storm in recent years.

This grab-and-go street food, usually found in cake shops and in-store supermarket bakers is on temporary hold.

A decade ago you would have had to visit Portugal to try one of these best-kept-secret tarts.

For those not in the know, which won’t be many of you, the Portuguese pastal de nata consists of egg custard.

The key to a great pastal de nata, and what distinguishes it from our very own British custard tart, is the caramelised top and layered pastry.

This is somewhere between filo and puff, and should be completely homemade in a piping hot hissing oven to make sure you get the authentic caramelisation on top of the tart.

This iconic Portuguese treat was popularised by appearing on the Bake Off a few years ago, which made a tart previously found in high-end cafes at high-end prices accessible to everyone.

The pastal de nata has an interesting history, which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. It was a means for a monastery to survive financial problems and bring in extra revenue.

At one time a shop within the monastery of Mosterio dos Jaronimos in Lisbon made custard tarts from the abundance of egg yolks left over after the egg whites were used to starch monks’ clause and nuns’ habits.

One last thing: buy a packet of puff pastry and don’t pretend there’s any point in ‘’being good’’ or some such similar nonsense.

It’s allowed in lockdown times you know! Eating just one nata at a time, quite simply as soon as you’ve finished the first one, you will berate yourself for not having another!

Thank you #NHS

Recipe for Raspberry Pastal de Natas


300ml milk, preferably full fat

1 vanilla pod split in half, or a few drops of vanilla essence

175g cater sugar

25g plain flour, sifted

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

Fresh, frozen or tinned raspberries

375g packet of ready-rolled puff pastry

10g ground cinnamon


1. Place the milk and vanilla into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil, then leave to fuse for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the sugar into a mixing bowl and sift over the flour, combining well.

3. Beat in the egg yolks and whole egg until you have a thick and creamy custard paste.

4. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and scrape in the seeds as you go. Discard the pod.

5. Pour the scented milk into the bowl and beat everything together well.

6. Unroll the pastry and sprinkle over the cinnamon, then roll tightly into a Swiss roll shape and cut into 12 discs.

7. Butter 12 muffin or bun tins and flatten each disc to line and fit the tins, then pour in the custard mix adding a few raspberries.

8. Bake in a fiercely hot preheated oven 220c /Gas Mark 7 for around 15 minutes until the pastry is crisp and the surface has speckled dark patches.