This recipe is total taste of my childhood. When I was growing up we had a classic, old fashioned British bakery in the village, one of those shops that sold chocolate dipped flapjacks, cream horns and of course custard tarts, and these were my favourites.
Making them at home isn’t difficult - you are just making a sweet pastry and a very simple custard - but to guarantee success and to avoid a soggy bottom my recipe has a few hints and tips and they are definitely worth that little extra work.
225g plain flour
150g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
350ml single cream
100ml whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
8 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
Lightly grease an 9-inch tart tin (preferably with a loose bottom) and set aside.
For the pastry, place the flour and butter into a large bowl and using your fingertips gently rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and the salt and stir to combine. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add in the egg. Using a fork start to combine the egg and the butter mixture. Once the dough has started to come together use your hands to gently knead the dough into a uniform, smooth mix. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate for about an hour or until firmed up, enough so that it is rollable.
Dust the worksurface with a little flour and roll out the pastry until it is about a couple of inches wider than the tart tin. Roll the pastry onto the rolling pin and gently drape it into the tin. Gently lift and press the pastry into the base of the tin, leaving the excess overhanging the tart. Place onto a parchment lined baking tray and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the pastry has firmed up again, this will help the pastry keep its shape whilst baking. Whilst the pastry is in the fridge preheat the oven to 180C.
Remove the tart from the fridge and line it with a piece of parchment paper, filling it with either baking beans or rice and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and carefully remove the parchment and the baking beans. Place the tart back in the oven for about 5 minutes to brown the base a little. Once the tart has baked we are going to take an extra step to prevent our liquid filling making the base soggy. Take an extra egg yolk and using a pastry brush coat the entire inside of the tart. Place this back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out. This egg creates a nice seal so that the liquid in the filling cant make the pastry soggy.
Turn the oven down to 130C and make the custard. Place the cream and milk into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Add the vanilla extract or if you are using it the vanilla pod (scrape out the seeds and add to the liquid along with the pod itself) and bring the cream to a simmer. Place the egg yolks and the sugar into a bowl and whisk together. Pour the hot cream over the yolks, whisking constantly (remove the vanilla pod at this stage if using). Leaving the tart in the oven pour in the custard, the reason for this is that it fills the tart completely and its very easy to spill if you have to carry it to the oven. Carefully grate the nutmeg over the entire tart and then bake for around 30-40 minutes or until set around the outside but still with a little wiggle in the middle. Allow the tart to cool fully before trimming off the excess pastry and removing form the tin.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies