Recipe by French Tart
A taste of my childhood, my grandmother made the most amazing Egg Custard, as we used to call it! In the absence of lard, or if you are vegetarian, use a white vegetable cooking fat, but NOT margarine, as the white fat gives the pastry its crispness. Serve this tart at room temperature with cream or just "naked"! You can buy these delectable little tarts in most British bakeries, but they always taste better when they have been made at home. This old-fashioned custard tart needs a thick, wobbly filling, so I've used a round tin with sloping sides and a rim, which gives a good depth. The nutmeg is very important to the flavour, so always use it freshly grated and grate it on to a piece of foil, which helps when you have to sprinkle it on quickly when it goes into the oven.
Top Review by Bonnie G #2
I've been looking for an egg custard recipe for a long time. Before my Grandmother passed on it was one of the things she always made for me while growing up and represents so many good memories. Unfortunatly, she never passed that recipe on and I've never found one quite like it. Well, this is it - Wonderful creamy filling without being overly sweet - just right for a light dessert. This is the first time I've had it in a crust - she always just made the custard and baked it in a pan, but I must say I loved this flaky crust; I have to admit to having problems with it, but that's my own fault and pretty much expected as for some reason I've NEVER been able to make a crust and it always falls apart on me. But I eventually was able to pick up most of it and pat it into place in the pan. (so no pretty leaf edges, even though I bought the cutters special) but the taste was still wonderful. Maybe some day I'll master the art of rolling out a pie crust - sigh!!! At any rate, a wonderful recipe and the picture will follow just as soon as I get it downloaded. Thanks FT for helping find a missing memory. Made for the Welsh portion of Virtual Culinary Cruise: British Isles & Ireland
For the shortcrust pastry
- 5 ounces plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 ounce softened lard or 1 ounce white vegetable fat
- 1 1⁄2 ounces softened butter
For the filling
- 3 large eggs, plus
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 pint single cream
- 2 ounces caster sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 whole nutmegs, freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon softened butter
Directions See How It's Made
- To make the pastry, first of all sift the flour with the pinch of salt into a large bowl, holding the sieve up high to give it a good airing. Then add the lard and butter and, using only your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the fat into the flour, again lifting the mixture up high all the time to give it a good airing.
- When everything is crumbly, sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon of cold water. Start to mix the pastry with a knife and then finish off with your hands, adding a few more drops of water, till you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl clean. Then pop the pastry into a polythene bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C) and pop the baking sheet in to pre-heat on the centre shelf.
- After that, roll the pastry out into a circle on a surface lightly dusted with flour, giving it quarter turns to keep its round shape; it's a good idea at this stage to put the tin lightly on top of the pastry – the size needs to be 1 inch (2.5 cm) bigger all round. Now transfer it, rolling it over the pin, to the tin, and press it lightly and firmly around the base, sides and rim. Now take a sharp knife and trim the overlapping pastry. Then press the rim of the pastry so that about ¼ inch (5 mm) overlaps the edge.
- Next, roll the trimmings and cut out about 24 leaves, making veins in them with the blunt side of the knife. Now brush the whole surface of the pastry case with some of the beaten eggs, arranging the leaves all around the rim, overlapping them. Brush these, too, with beaten egg. Now prick the base of the tart with a fork, then place it on the baking sheet and bake on the centre shelf for 20 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden. Check after 4 minutes to make sure that the pastry isn't rising up in the centre. If it is, prick it again a couple of times, pressing it back down with your hands. After 20 minutes, remove it from the oven, leaving the baking sheet there, and reduce the temperature to gas mark 3, 325°F(170°C).
- Now place the cream in a saucepan and bring it up to a gentle simmer, then whisk the beaten eggs and sugar together in a large heatproof jug using a balloon whisk – but not too vigorously because you don't want to make bubbles. Then pour the hot liquid over the beaten eggs, add the vanilla extract and half the nutmeg and whisk briefly again.
- Now place the pie tin back on the baking tray with the oven shelf half out and have ready the rest of the grated nutmeg on a piece of foil. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case (it will be very full) and scatter the rest of the nutmeg all over, then dot with the softened butter and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the filling is golden brown, firm in the centre and slightly puffed up. Serve it warm or slightly cooled at room temperature.