Pastel de nata
|Alternative names||Pastel de Belém|
Pastries of Bethlehem
|Place of origin||Portugal|
|Region or state||Saint Mary of Bethlehem, Lisbon (originally); produced worldwide within the Lusosphere|
|Created by||Religious of the Monastery of the Hieronymites|
|Serving temperature||Fresh from oven, with cinnamon and icing sugar|
|Main ingredients||Egg yolks|
|Variations||egg tart, custard tart|
|ca. 300 per 100 grams (3.5 oz) kcal|
Pastel de nata (Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐʃˈtɛɫ dɨ ˈnatɐ] (plural: pastéis de nata; [-ˈtɛjʃ-], [-ˈtɐjʃ-])) is a Portuguese egg custard tart pastry, optionally dusted with cinnamon. The dish is popular also in countries with historical ties to Portugal.
Pastéis de nata were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks at the Hieronymites Monastery (Portuguese: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) in the civil parish of Saint Mary of Bethlehem, in Lisbon. At the time, convents and monasteries used large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, such as friars and nuns' religious habits. It was quite common for monasteries and convents to use the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries, resulting in the proliferation of sweet pastry recipes throughout the country.
In the aftermath of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, following the dissolution of religious orders and in the face of the impending closure of many convents and monasteries, the monks started selling pastéis de nata at a nearby sugar refinery to bring in revenue. In 1834, the monastery was closed and the recipe sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. The descendants own the business to this day.
Since the opening of Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, the original recipe of the pastel de nata is kept in a secret room. The Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém is the most popular place to buy pastéis de nata; the shop is located just a short three-minute walk from the Jerónimos Monastery.  The shop offers both take out and sit in services and sells over 20,000 pastéis de nata a day. Usually the tart is sprinkled with canela (cinnamon), and often accompanied with a bica (a strong espresso coffee).
Pastel de nata abroad
The cuisine of Japan was influenced by Portuguese traders during the 16th century, and culturally important Japanese baked goods including pan (パン) (from Portuguese pão, bread) and castella have their origins in this period. Pastel de nata is one of these. In addition to the traditional form of the pastry, some variations have been developed especially for the Japanese market by adding green tea flavoring. This green tea pastel de nata was eventually exported to South Korea and other Asian markets.
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- "Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon". www.golisbon.com.
- "Pastéis de Belém: A Taste of History". May 27, 2016.
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- Swinnerton, Robbie (5 September 2009). "Take a little bite of Portugal's egg tart". Japan Times.
- Costa e Silva, Susanna; Elo, Maria (30 November 2017). "How to Internationalize a Traditional Portuguese-Style Food--Liability or Asset of Portugueseness?". In Verbeke, Alain; Puck, Jonas; van Tulder, Rob (eds.). Distance in International Business: Concept, Cost and Value. pp. 425–44. ISBN 9781787437180.
- Merle, Dominick (11 August 2004), "There's history - and a secret - in every bite", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved 23 April 2012
- Leite, David (8 September 2004), "Pastéis de Belém–The World's First Pastéis de Nata", Leite's Culinaria, retrieved 9 June 2022
- Amaral, André; Pires, Carla; Castro e Silva, Daniel; Medeiros, Luís; André, Mário Rui (December 2011), O Segredo do Marketing dos Pastéis de Belém (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Escola Superior de Comunicação Social, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, archived from the original (PDF) on 2013
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