NZ Forest Native Birds

Custard Tarts

I can no longer buy custard tarts whose filling contains egg instead of custard powder. Even those that contain some egg are mostly custard powder. I longed for the custard tarts I remember in my youth so I found a recipe on the Internet that seemed the closest to what I wanted and adapted it. I was delighted with the result and decided I needed to share my recipe. Ceramic pie weights are worth buyng just to make this delicious dessert.

1½ cups plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
125g butter, chilled, cut into 3-4 pieces; extra for greasing pans
1 egg yolk (I also needed a TB of water)

Grease four 10cm individual pie dishes well. Preferably use butter. Using your fingers helps it to soften and spread better. Place flour, sugar and butter into food processor; process until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add egg, process again until the mixture clumps. If mixture is too dry add 1 TB water. (I usually need to.) Divide into four and roll each piece into a circle big enough to line one of the pie dishes, with the pastry projecting slightly above the rim. Lightly press the tines of a fork into the top of the pasty to give a “fluted” edge (optional). Line each pastry case with baking paper filled with ceramic pie weights (or beans or rice) and cook at 200 deg C (180 deg if using a fan oven) for about ten minutes. Take away paper and weights and cook for another five minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before carefully turning out of tins to cool on a wire rack. The shells must be fully cooled before proceeding.

¾ cup milk (preferably full cream)
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence (I use home-made essence)
egg white (optional; last time I made the tarts I forgot this step and the pastry was still lovely and crisp on the bottom)

Turn oven onto 150 deg C (about 130 if using fan oven). Heat milk to simmering point with the sugar, stirring occasionally to melt the sugar. Beat eggs and vanilla essence together and slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs, whisking lightly all the while. Brush the inside of the pie shells with the egg white. Put the pie shells on an oven tray placed as close to the oven as possible. Pour half a cup of the custard into each shell; the mixture needs to reach as close to the rim as possible. Grate nutmeg over the top and carefully place the tray in the oven. How long they take to cook depends on how hot the custard was when poured in but it’s likely to be between 15 and 20 minutes and the tops will have a faintly convex look (barely noticeable) while the filling will be very wobby—so wobbly you might be tempted to continue cooking. Resist the temptation. The wobble will be gone by the time they are cold. Carefully lift them onto a wire rack to cool. They are best eaten cold on the same day but on the following day (after storage in the fridge) the crust will still be crisper than on tarts bought in a shop or supermarket. Just make sure they are brought to room temperature before serving.

custard tarts

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