Prep 1 hr
Cook 30 mins
When staying away from home for any period of time there are things that we all miss, friends, pets, your favourite restaurant, and knowing exactly where the last time you saw the thing you were looking for but suddenly realise that you didn’t pack and now its half way round the world in a different time zone! In 2007 we lived in Sydney for five months and having reminders of home are always nice. This was one of the first dishes that I made in our apartment in Bondi, (it just also happens to be my partner’s favourite!). This is my take on a traditional English dish that is popular around the world. It is not a robust pudding like ‘Spotted Dick’ or ‘Jam Roly Poly’ but a lighter way to finish any meal or have on its own with your favourite hot or cold beverage. Although not a complicated dish to make getting the custard cooked ‘just right’ can mean the difference between delicious dessert and a tortuous tart. Egg custard tarts have to be cooked slowly to get the perfect pudding. A wet egg custard is the result of cooking the dish either for too long or at too high a temperature resulting in the custard mix overheating and ‘boiling’ with a watery result. A good egg custard is allowed to set, so it is firm to the touch and when cut into has a smooth firm texture. The most basic of egg custards are based on the ratio of 3 eggs to the a pint of liquid if the dish is not to stand on its own (like a flan) or if the dish is to be turned out then a ratio of 4 eggs to a pint of liquid is appropriate (like a cream caramel). From the most basic of recipes we can enhance them to make them richer and add a fuller flavour with the addition of extra ingredients. So having gotten the custard right if the tartlet case does not match the excellence of the filling it can add a dampener to the dish. Getting pastry right has been said to be an art. In this recipe I have used a sweet pastry that with the addition of almonds and corn meal gives a warm rich colour and nutty flavour to the end result. Always remember the nutmeg as this just finishes the tart off a treat.
- In a thick bottomed pan mix the milk and cream, scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pod and add them to the mix.
- Heat the milk and cream mix and simmer for a couple of minutes to infuse the flavour – do not allow to boil.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to a cold mixing bowl.
- In a separate large mixing bowl add the flour, cornmeal, and butter.
- Rub together until like breadcrumbs.
- Add the almonds and sugar to the mix.
- Bind together with the egg (use only the whole egg).
- If too dry add a little additional beaten egg until the consistency is right - DO NOT add any liquid other than egg or it will become biscuity when cooked.
- Allow the pastry to rest in a cool place for 30 minutes.
- Pre heat the oven to 120°C degrees.
- Roll out the pastry until approx 3mm thick.
- Using round a pastry cutter cut out circles of the pastry and line individual tartlet cases.
- Allow these to rest for 20 minutes in a cool place.
- Bake in the oven until blind baked – approx 10 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Brush the insides of the pastry cases with the liquid egg yolk so they are just coated – this is to seal the pastry case before adding the egg custard mix so the pastry stays as crisp as possible.
- Return to the oven for 5 minutes to seal the cases.
- Into the milk and cream mix that has been allowed to cool completely add the eggs and sugar – whisk these together well.
- Through a fine sieve strain the egg mix to ensure the custard has no shell in it.
- Pour the custard mix carefully into the tartlet cases – taking care to not over fill.
- Grate a light covering of nutmeg over the tarts.
- Place carefully in the oven
- If possible and your oven shelf will pull out and remain steady put the tray of tartlet cases on the oven shelf before filling so as to not have to move the filled tartlets except to push the shelf back in the oven.
- Cook for approx 20 minutes.
- When the custard is firm to the touch the tarts are done.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Serve as desired but with a pouring of fresh cream is delicious.