311 - Custard secret in the baking

By Lauren Gosnell

The perfect Portuguese custard tart is a flaky pastry filled with velvety rich custard. In Portugal, these pasteis de nata are available at every bakery, on every street corner. Torontonians are equally blessed with a number of excellent local Portuguese bakeries.

Golden custardAt the popular and busy Golden Wheat on College Street, the custard in their pasteis de nata was light, creamy and mildly sweet - dotted with the traditional black spots of caramelization which lends a buttery flavour to it. The pastry shell is firm enough to contain the custard and to keep its shape for holding, but soft enough with its thin crispy phyllo-like layers to fall apart gently in your mouth.

Owner Patricia Brandao explains that making pasteis de nata is simple. The shell is a puff pastry dough and the custard is a mixture of flour, milk, eggs, sugar and a bit of butter. But the real secret of its success is all in the baking. The shell and the custard are cooked at the same time when they go into a 600°F oven – a temperature you can’t reach in your ordinary home oven. At this high heat, it only needs to bake for 5 to 7 minutes to come out light, crusty, creamy and delicately caramelized on top.

Golden codfishThe Golden Wheat also has a large selection of tasty traditional fish patties like pasteis de bacalhau (codfish sticks) and rissóis de camarão (shrimp cakes) as well as an assortment of cakes and desserts. Its broa, Portuguese corn bread, is outstanding – a crusty round loaf with a soft but dense inside, great for sardine sandwiches.

The recently renovated space has ample seating room and a soothing modern design sense - the perfect quiet spot to enjoy a coffee and a pastel de nata (or two)! It is also one of the few places in the city that keeps its doors open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays to serve the late night College Street crowd.

The Golden Wheat Bakery
652 College St. Toronto