Santa clara pastries

Santa clara pastries

Pasteis de santa clara

6 pastries
Steven Joyce

Santa Clara pastries come in various shapes and sizes but always with the same almond filling, and this is my favourite way to make them. I first tried them during an early, sunny breakfast picnic at Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte, the highest viewpoint over Lisbon, crunching into the sweet filo while watching the sun spread over the city and river beyond.

Folding them into rectangles makes them very similar to Pasteis de Tentúgal – in fact, if you’d like to make Pasteis de Tentúgal, then just follow the recipe for Sweetened Egg Yolks on page 207 and use it as the filling instead of the almond mixture used here.


Quantity Ingredient
4 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
75ml water
drops freshly squeezed lemon juice
75g ground almonds
100g butter, melted
6 sheets filo pastry, measuring roughly 20 × 30 cm
icing sugar for dusting


  1. Whisk the egg yolks in a heavy mixing bowl until smooth and creamy.
  2. Place a deep saucepan over a high heat and add the sugar, water and lemon juice. Heat the mixture until it reaches 105ºC on a pan thermometer. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. Pour the syrup, very slowly, over the egg yolks, beating continuously with a whisk. Once all the syrup has been added to the yolks, pour the mixture back into the pan. Place over a very low heat and cook, stirring, for 5–10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens – it should resemble a bright yellow or orange custard. (Don’t let the mixture get too hot, or boil, as the yolks will scramble.) Remove from the heat and stir in the ground almonds. Set aside to cool a little.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and grease a baking sheet with a little of the melted butter.
  5. When working with filo, keep the unused sheets under a clean damp tea towel, as filo dries out and becomes brittle very quickly.
  6. Lay one sheet of filo on a work surface. Cut it into 2 rectangles. Brush one rectangle with melted butter, then place the other rectangle on top. Brush with melted butter again.
  7. Spread a generous tablespoon of the almond filling on top of the pastry, a third of the way from the bottom of the pastry, and halfway from the sides. (Don’t overfill as the pastries may burst in the oven.)
  8. Turn the bottom edge in, covering the filling, then fold twice more to enclose the filling. Arrange the now slightly flattened pastry tube so that the seam is on the bottom. Press lightly on the fold on either side of the filling, pushing the filling so it sits the centre of the tube with a gap on either side – this creates space within the pastry for the filling to expand during cooking.
  9. Brush the top of the pastry with butter. Gently pinch each of the ends of the tube together, then fold inwards. Brush the newly exposed pastry with butter. Place on the baking sheet and continue with the rest of the filo and filling to make 6 pastries.
  10. Bake in the oven for 12–13 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp.
  11. Remove the pastries from the oven, allow them to cool slightly, then dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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