Food History food podcast Macau

Pastéis de Nata & The Story of Custard Tarts

Egg Tart Historical past: On this article & podcast we explore the history of the Egg Custard tart, and it’s famous Portuguese counterpart, the Pastéis de Nata (Cream Pastry). Who invented the egg tart? Was Portugal first, or did another person beat them to it?

We additionally take a look at egg tarts around Asia – are they based mostly on European egg tarts? Or did they evolve independently?

Egg Tart Historical past Podcast (S2E22)

In This Episode:

  • Pastéis de Nata – Egg custard tarts – are they Portuguese in origin, or have been they first invented elsewhere?
  • Why the Portuguese egg tart is the culinary image of Macau, and the shocking story behind the way it received there.
  • Plus where can you eat the tastiest egg tarts? After so much of testing, we expect we’ve discovered them.

Pay attention & Subscribe For Extra Episodes:

Pay attention & Subscribe: iTunes | Spotify | Podbean | Google Play | Stitcher


Help: Turn out to be a Patron | Tweet: @foodfuntravel | E-mail: [email protected]


Egg Tart History Partial Transcript (Unedited)

At this time we are speaking about Egg custard tarts. One of probably the most well-known varieties of egg tart is the Pasteis de nata. The portuguese egg tart which encompasses a candy egg custard in a puff pastry shell.

However, although it might be world famous, was it the unique egg tart? We are going to examine.

Also on this episode we’ll be talking about how the Portuguese egg tart turned so well-liked in addition to taking a look at many different egg tarts from all over the world.

First, a easy definition. What is an Egg tart. It has to have a sweet, cooked custard made with egg within the center, and it has to have a pastry shell. That’s about it. Straightforward.

Before we get started, only a fast reminder, please subscribe to this podcast – that helps us let platforms know individuals are listening, which boosts our rankings. Also, advocate us to a good friend – assist us get our identify on the market!

First, let’s speak about how the Portuguese egg tart – pasteis de nata – was first created…

Egg Tart History (Pastéis de Belem) Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém - Egg tart history

Pastéis de Belém

The actual invention date of the first pasteis de nata is unclear, although most sources consider it was being constructed from a minimum of about 300 years ago. So sometime after 1700, in all probability.

Within the monasteries of Portugal on the time, egg white was used to starch garments through the laundry course of. This left an enormous supply of leftover egg yolks. Together with growing availability of sugar from the new world, coming straight to Lisbon from the colonies, Egg custard tarts have been the right method to use up these egg yolks.

Monks, with time on their palms, set about creating a recipe. It’s unclear right now if they bought them to the group, or just obtained fat eating them themselves.

Some sources declare this apply turned in style in lots of monasteries. Others are fairly clear that the epicentre of this was at Jeronimos monastery in Belem, close to Lisbon.

In 1820, after the liberal revolution, authorities funding for monasteries ceased. Many convents and monasteries would shut, and by 1834 they have been all forcibly shut down. Sooner or later between 1820 and 1834 monks from Jeronimos monastery undoubtedly started to sell the egg tarts as a way to generate income to endure.

What happened subsequent seems to be slightly contentious. There was a sugar refinery simply over the street from the monastery, and a small basic retailer hooked up to it.

Some sources say that the monks stored making the egg tarts and would sell them in the basic retailer. Others declare they bought the recipe to the sugar refinery, who in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, the bakery still there immediately. Some sources even recommend that some of the monks went into business with the refinery as a way to open the bakery.

On the time, Belem was thought-about fairly a method from Lisbon, it’s a pair of hours stroll. Steamships used to deliver daytrippers along the coast to marvel on the torre de Belem – the tower on the water there, and to see Jeronimos monastery, because the structure is unbelievable.

A pastry shop proper subsequent door had great potential and the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém was a roaring success. Immediately the egg tarts are constructed from the identical secret recipe from the monks of Belem all these years in the past, only three individuals within the manufacturing unit as we speak know the recipe, it’s that much of a secret…

Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém - Egg tart history

The work room at Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém

At the moment, they make over 20,000 pastéis de nata day by day and vacationers and locals flock their for a sugary hit. We dropped by to see if the originals really are one of the best…

[LIVE AUDIO CLIP – Us describing the Belem shop and egg tart]

So, a great egg tart with some critical historic pedigree – but not our favorite. What’s the greatest egg tart in Portugal, and even on the earth? More on that later in this episode.

Yet one more aside – is it Pastéis de nata or Pastel de Nata? It means cream pastry – regardless that it’s created from milk, egg yolk and sugar, not cream. But it’s creamy! Pastel de nata is the singular – for one pastry. Pasteis is the plural, which is the quantity of egg tarts I favor to order. In fact, in belem, they are referred to as pasteis de belem, particularly. Imitations appeared everywhere in the nation, then the world from there.

So, Portuguese monasteries might have been making egg tarts since no less than 1700. But did they create them?

The Unique Egg Tarts – Before Portugal

It seems possible that egg custard in a pastry case was being made and eaten lengthy earlier than 1700. The strongest candidates for creating them first are the English and the French.

In England, they are referred to as custard tarts. The English word Custard possible comes from the french phrase Croustade, which is a kind of pie. Written documentation for one thing akin to a modern custard tart exists from 1399 the place they have been ready for Henry IV coronation banquet.

These unique pastries have been referred to as doucettys or doucettes which referred to a candy dessert. Recipes point out it will be made with egg, milk and honey.

The phrase doucettys additionally derives from French, from the word doux, which suggests candy. In fact, the etymological connection doesn’t prove France was making these meals earlier than England, as tons of words in England come from French as they conquered England in 1066…

So, as soon as again as in so many episodes of The Dish, merely the truth that England had an insatiable want to put in writing things down, it looks like they’re going to win the race for unique egg custard tart.

Nevertheless, there are some variations. British egg tarts would sometimes function shortcrust pastry, not puff pastry. They use nutmeg, quite than cinnamon. Also, british ones are cooked slowly, letting the custard go agency without caramelizing on prime. They are typically served cold too. The largest distinction was the original egg tarts weren’t little particular person pies, they have been possible full measurement pies.

In truth, in the courtroom of Queen Elizabeth the 1st, again within the 16th century, it’s documented that her cooks made egg tarts so massive that her courtroom jester might dance in them – some proto version of custard wrestling doubtless adopted. In all probability without bikinis, Liz was an aesthetic woman.

When did England start making the small particular person pastries? That’s unclear, but custard tarts basically, seem to have their earliest evidence within the UK.

Egg tarts in China & The world spread of egg tarts

Egg tarts have since turn out to be a favourite everywhere in the world. Portuguese egg tarts made it to Japan an extended whereas again.

Egg tarts are massively common in both Hong Kong and Macau, each Chinese language territories. In Hong kong, the brief pastry English fashion, and in Macau, the Portuguese puff pastry fashion. As Hong Kong was British and Macau was Portuguese, you’d assume that it was these nations that popularised the egg tarts their… But the story shouldn’t be quite that straightforward.

Places to eat Hong Kong - egg tart History

Hong Kong Egg Tart

Let’s start with egg tarts in Hong kong. These may truly be my favorite egg tarts. The number one trick to make a tastebud punching egg tart is shortcrust pastry with lard! Oh yes, pork fats in the pastry makes them soooo rather more pleasing than without.

What concerning the historical past. It appears the Hong Kong egg tart originated in the nearby mainland city of Guangzhou. Additionally an enormous buying and selling port with European settlers and merchants coming by way of frequently. It sits about the identical distance from both Macau and Hong Kong.

The one very important ingredient for Portuguese fashion egg tarts is butter for the puff pastry. It just wasn’t a practical ingredient – it was too expensive to get in Guangzhou. For this reason lard was substituted. Because of this, its unclear if the selection of brief crust pastry was as a consequence of British affect, or simply necessity. however, the cantonese word for egg tarts is daan tat – which accurately interprets as egg tart, not cream pastry, which would be closer to the Portuguese identify. Also, they’ve the graceful non-caramelized prime, extra like the british fashion.

The hearsay that they could have derived from the portuguese type, simply doesn’t quite match.

By the 1930’s, egg tarts had supposedly develop into a standard dessert in Guangzhou – some sources declare a restaurateur there first adapted the recipe with lard in 1927 and it turned a typical dim sum dish. By the 1940s and 50’s the tailored version had made its approach to fancy cafes in Hong Kong and ultimately turned a finances snack for the individuals.

In addition to lard, another improvement was they served them heat, quite than the English means of chilly. Was this the Portuguese influence?

Let’s take a look at egg tarts in Macau and find out.

The first Portuguese settlement in Macau was established in 1557. Colonial rule began in 1849 and led to 1999. Just like Hong Kong. So when do you assume Portuguese egg tarts first turned widespread in Macau?


Till 1989, the one egg tarts in Macau have been the same dim sum fashion ones that have been first popularised in Guangzhou. So, the Portuguese egg tart, a well-liked symbol of Macau at present, was truly the british/chinese language type until then.

So, Macau, nonetheless a Portuguese colony in 1989, out of the blue noticed the arrival of the Pasteis de Nata, and from which nation do you reckon the one that introduced them got here from?


A british pharmacist referred to as Andrew Stow had been dwelling in Macau since 1979. Within the 80’s he took a visit to Portugal and tasted the Pasteis de Nata for the primary time. He liked it and questioned why a Portuguese colony didn’t have this traditional food. After returning to Macau, he opened Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane Village in 1989 with the intent of supplying baked items, together with the pasteis de nata, to supermarkets.

However, because the local Chinese group was already used to egg tarts with dim sum, the Portuguese version turned an immediate hit! As we speak, Lord Stow’s bakery makes over 13,000 a day.

But, Lord Andrew Stow is just not a lord. The identify truly arose because, prior to stepping into the bakery enterprise, Andrew had tried to open a well being food store – about 20 years before anyone in China can be focused on that kind of factor. The business struggled and so he took on a aspect job at night time because the manager of the Green parrot disco on the Hyatt Regency.

Because the boss, he apparently lorded it over his staff and everyone started calling him lord Stow. The identify stuck. And it was such a well-liked identify that copycat chains selling pasteis de nata began opening in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan with the identical identify and even using Andrew’s photograph illegally to advertise their outlets!

So, Portuguese egg tarts, a culinary symbol of Macau, popularised by a British man since only 1989. Crazy!

What makes the perfect egg tart??

Egg Tart History - Manteigaria Lisbon

Manteigaria Lisbon – Might this be the perfect Pastéis de Nata on the earth?

So, lastly on this episode – what makes one of the best egg tart or pasteis de nata? And where can you find the most effective egg tart?

We took a food tour with the corporate in Lisbon, and our information Lucian launched us to one of the best portuguese type egg tart we’ve ever had…

[CLIP Mantegeria shop in Lisbon]

Being Warm! Custard not too eggy in order that they don’t need to taste like an omelette in pastry.

Smooth, lardy pastry – or The good crisp puff pastry crust. A bit bit of additional salt in the pastry helps with that apparently. Or, a butter delicate and flaky puff – had an amazing one of these in Lisbon too.

The place To Eat Egg Tarts

In Lisbon:

Mantegeria (Greatest candy and heat pastéis de nata in Lisbon)

Fabrica de Pastéis de Belem (Most Famous, unique Lisbon egg tarts from 1830’s)

Hong Kong:

Tai Cheong Bakery Hong Kong(Lardy Pastry) – Excellent, although not one of the best in Hong Kong, which have been purchased for us by a good friend from a now unknown location 🙁


Lord Stow’s Bakery, Macau – Portuguese type in Macau, unique 1989 store

About the author