I love custard tart and the kids love it too – particularly for breakfast! I especially love the warm scent of nutmeg that you grate into the creamy yellow custard and onto the surface of the tart.
I picked up nutmegs in Provence this summer – the market in Gordes has the best spice stall. So although custard tart feels extremely British it’s also very much a taste of France for me.
I have become a little obsessed with it – okay a lot obsessed – making up one after the other in the hope of getting the recipe just right. The first recipe I used came from the Great British Bakeoff – they had a custard tart challenge in this seasons pastry episode which is what got the tastebuds craving. But I found Kate’s recipe for her Rhubarb and Custard Tart filling much too rich and the almond meal pastry fell to pieces and didn’t form a good tart shell. I went back to my tried and trusted favorite sweet pastry recipe, long before I cooked my way through the book as I produced, edited and photographed the 10th Anniversary edition I had adapted this French sweet pastry recipe for mince pies.
And then I discovered a new genius tool for rolling out pastry – Pastry Wands– another reason to make yet another custard tart – this time with perfectly even pastry. And they really are genius – giving that super even crust that you usually only get on store bought crusts. Next up, I’m using them for cookies – homemade oreos for Ali… Like all things of genius the concept is very simple – you place the wands on either side of the pastry and roll out as normal – when you get to the desired thickness it will be perfectly even and you are done.
Custard requires yolks – bright yellow fresh yolks that sit high up when cracked into a dish.
Lots of yolks in a recipe means you will have egg whites to use up – I usually whip up a batch of Ottolenghi rock star meringues but for the last two weeks I’ve been recipe testing homemade amoretti biscuits – recipe to come.
For the filling I adapted the nutmeg custard tart recipe from the first season of Bake Off, The Great British Book of Baking, a lovely book I use a lot – especially when making treats for tea.
My perfect Custard Tart Recipe.
Makes one 1o-inch tart
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons (60g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons beaten egg
300 ml heavy cream
300ml whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg
2 medium eggs, plus 4 yolks
75g caster sugar
Add 2 tablespoons of the egg, and pulse just until the dough forms a mass; do not over mix. Turn the ball of dough out onto the counter, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day. The dough may be well wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month – I often double the recipe and save half in the freezer.
2. Lightly butter the fluted tart pan with removable bottom and cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom.
3. Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Dust the disc lightly with flour and, using two large sheets of plastic wrap, one underneath and one over the dough, roll out to a 14 inch circle using the pastry wands (see illustrations above). Peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap, dust lightly with flour and transfer to the tart pan, flour side down. Remove the second piece of plastic wrap and gently ease the dough into the pan leaving the excess pastry draped over the sides. Chill the tart shell for 20 minutes. (The tart shell can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
4. Heat the oven to 325°F. Scrunch up a piece of parchment paper large enough to generously line the tart pan. Line the tart shell with the unfurled paper and fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake the tart shell for 15 minutes until lightly golden and just firm. Carefully remove the paper and the beans/rice/pie weights and bake for a further 5-7 mins until thoroughly cooked, firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, trim off the excess pastry to form a neat edge and leave to cool whilst you make the custard filling.
6. Put the cream and milk into a medium pan. Grate some nutmeg over the top and slowly bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. In a large heatproof bowl beat together the eggs, yolks and sugar using a wooden spoon until lighter in color and smooth. Gradually temper the hot cream into the eggs and sugar stirring constantly. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a jug.
7. Set the tart pan with the crust on the hot baking tray in the oven and carefully pour in the custard mixture. Grate a generous amount of nutmeg over the surface and then bake the tart for about 30 minutes until lightly colored and just firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. The tart will still have a slight wobble and will continue to cook as it cools. When cool remove from tart pan and chill in the refrigerator to completely set.
Here’s a cool little video showcasing Pastry Wands: