Empanadillas de Crema (Custard Filled Mini-Pasties)

22 Empanadillas de Crema

Today’s recipe, and indeed the one I published last week, don’t include precise quantities for all of the ingredients. As an engineer, and someone who loves precision in all things, I sometimes find this hard to handle. Phrases like “Add just enough flour to ensure that the dough is no longer sticky” can give me the heebie-jeebies. Quantities are but one use of numbers, and there are many more.

For me the best, and indeed worst thing about numbers, is their precision. Numbers are black and white…..

I was out cycling over the weekend on a circuit I know well. I wanted to complete the route in under 2 hours, something I had never been able to do before. I did it in 2 hours and 35 seconds. Some might think I had done enough to achieve my goal, but for a man of precision like me, even 1 second over is still 1 second too many.

99 Prime Numbers

Numbers of course exist so that we can count things……

The junior school I went to was big on mathematics. I put much of my own mathematical agility down to a game we often played. Each child was given a random card with an arithmetical calculation on one side and a number on the other. One of us would start by reading out the calculation on our card, the person who had the number that matched the answer would call it out then read their card’s calculation. So it went until every child had read out their card. The teacher timed us to see if we improved over time. Simple but effective.

My Grandfather taught me much too. He started at the bottom, right out of school, in what would one day be Barclays Bank. In an age without calculators he had to do his calculations the hard way, quickly too and without mistakes. He taught me a different way of thinking, best demonstrated by an example. He would say that (5 x 19) is not (5 x10) added to (5 x 9), but rather (5 x 20) minus (5 x 1). Mental agility at its best!

The best way to avoid being diddled is being able to do sums in your head, even if it is only an approximation of the answer!

Numbers too are unique identifiers, be it a house number or a telephone number……

Someone told me an endearing story just recently of when, in her youth, a boy gave her his telephone number. Do you remember your youth, a time when everything was possible and the world was shiny and new? A time when you might take the city’s telephone directory and go through it, page by page, looking for the telephone number you had been given, just to see where a person lived?

99 PI

Numbers are also used for security measures, as a code to secure items via a combination lock for example……

I was away on business and the family were back home making their preparations to fly out and meet me. My young son was playing with the combination lock on an empty suitcase and managed to lock it shut.

The night before their flight, I received a call at the hotel where I was staying.  My rather distressed and harassed wife was asking for advice on combination locks. The only suggestion I could give her was to go through the numbers, one by one, and eventually she would hit the right combination.

They did in fact make the flight, but I understand that they slept most of the way.

There is also a beauty in numbers……

Just take Pi π or Prime Numbers as an example. Both such simple concepts but so elegant, that they can be used as the basis for a great story. “Contact” by Carl Sagan is a good example. If you liked the film, which is good, the book is better and takes the story further. I recommend you give it a try!

Numbers, in the form of quantities, also ensure that your recipes turn into edible repasts…..

Desserts in particular quite often require very precise measurement, otherwise that cake might not rise or that pannacotta might not have the right degree of wobble.

There are times however when one simply has to play it by ear. Today is one of those days:


Empanadillas de Crema (Custard Filled Mini-Pastries)

Makes: 12



For the custard:

100ml Milk

1 Egg Yolk

10g Cornflour

15g Vanilla sugar

10g Margarine

For the pastry:

60ml Olive oil

60ml Water

200g Flour (Approximately)



To make the custard:

01 Egg, flour and sugar in bowl

Use the method as described in the recipe here.


You only need a quarter measure of the custard. The quantities above, in this article, have already been adjusted accordingly and reflect what you will need to fill the 12 empanadillas.

Reserve the unused egg white for later in this recipe.

Sprinkle some sugar on top of the made custard to stop a skin forming.

Leave to cool.

04 Custard made

To make the pastry:

Mix the oil and water together then stir in most of the flour using a wooden spoon.

06 Mixing in flour

Add just enough flour to ensure that the dough is no longer sticky but still soft enough to roll out.

(This is a flexible dough that should be easy to work)

09 Adding more flour

Lightly beat the reserved egg white.

Roll out the dough as thin as possible. You should be able to see the kitchen work-surface through the dough!

11 Thin rolled pastry

Cut out circles of 9cm to 10cm in diameter.

By hand, or using a specialised mould, put a teaspoon of custard into the middle of each circle.

15 Open pastry with filling

Paint the edge with a little of the beaten egg white.

Fold over the pastry and seal well. Crimp the edges by folding over or simply pressing down with the tines of a fork.

17 Pastry ready to fry

Fry in hot oil, around 180ºC, until lightly browned and crisp.

Place onto kitchen roll to drain.

18 Pastry draining on kitchen roll

Serve dusted with icing sugar.

21 Finished and dusted pastry

You will have seen that the custard recipe referenced above has two options, to make the custard from scratch or use custard powder. Either will work.


You will see some recipe out there where these pastries are baked in the oven. That is NOT the typical way they are cooked here in Spain. I would therefore recommend you try frying them. Apart from it being the typical way, the pastry comes out really crisp and flaky!


Suggested Links:

This week I have some other pastry filled delights for you:

Bajan Patties

Bajan Patties

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega

Pea, Leek and Cream Cheese Pasty

25 Pea, Leek and Cream Cheese Pasty


tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml

tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml


Imperial to Metric Measurement:

1 oz – 28g

1 lb – 16 oz – 454g

1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml

1 inch – 25mm


Common Flour Types:

Cake Flour

Gluten: 8% to 10%

Type: ES 70W


All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour

Gluten: 8% to 11%

Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W


Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour

Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)

Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W


2018 Lincoln W. Betteridge


4 thoughts on “Empanadillas de Crema (Custard Filled Mini-Pasties)

  1. Pingback: Empanadillas de Crema (Custard Filled Mini-Pasties) | Other Man's Flavours

  2. Thought provoking and interesting as ever. Like you I like numbers and measures; but you know that already! I’ve always loved playing with numbers. Our phone number when I was a child was 648322 and that’s 6*4=24, 8*3=24 and 24-2 = 22. In our current number the first two digits make 10 as do the second two while the last two total 5 or half of 10. Silly little games of course and totally pointless but fun.

    Thanks for the recipe, I’ll definitely give these a go. I have the recipe for pastel de nafta and I mean to try these Portuguese custard tarts too, but They ha e become popular here and are sold in Sainsbury’s cafes now.

    Yesterday was Tram Sunday in Fleetwood where I was marshalling. There were only two trams on display from the historic collection in Blackpool, one was a local single decker run off a pantograph while the other used a trailing arm pickup. Now, conventional wisdom is that it’s not possible to run both on the same network, so when tram engineers are in the north of England they’re often brought over to Blackpool to see our heritage trams (trailing arm) following the new ones (pantograph). Now that’s some engineering trivia for.




    • Hello Alan,

      Yes, I did know that you liked numbers, and had assumed that the article would entice you to comment. Thanks as always for putting “pen to paper”.

      Pastel de Nata, one of the best pastries in the world. Always a favourite of mine and the first thing I buy when I am over in Portugal. These empanadillas are quite different in all respects, but give them a go and let me know what you think.

      I have a good friend here who worked for many years in CAF, a company here locally that makes trains and trams. He too gives me interesting facts on the trams, perhaps you two should get together! The ones in the city here, made by CAF, have an interesting feature that few notice.

      Their power comes from the overhead power lines throughout most of the city. Down the central main street however few people notice that the overhead lines have disappeared and fewer still wonder who the trams still run! They have batteries of course that charge up for the kilometre or so of the inner city!

      I have had to turn auto correction off, it was driving me crazy!

      Thanks as always for the comments.

      Best regards,


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