A custard tart is one of the finest puddings – crisp pastry filled with a rich, wobbly custard and topped with grated nutmeg.
one of the finest puddings
I usually like it best in its simplest form, but when raspberries, rhubarb or sweet, juicy cherries are in season, they make an excellent addition, creating little pockets of fruitiness and an even prettier pudding; just leave out the nutmeg.
Makes 1 tart, serving 6-8
This recipe originally appeared in my second cookbook, Egg (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). Photograph courtesy of Romas Foord/The Observer
For the sweet pastry:
- 80g unsalted butter
- 50g caster sugar
- a pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 160g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the custard:
- 7 egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 450ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- nutmeg for grating
- To make the pastry, mix the butter and sugar with a pinch of salt in an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand-held blender, until smooth and creamy.
- Add the egg yolk and continue to mix so it is well combined.
- Add the flour and mix briefly, then scoop the mixture into a clean bowl, add a tablespoon of cold water and, using your hands, bring the pastry together. Add another tablespoon of water if necessary to form a cohesive but firm dough. Wrap in clingfilm and allow to rest for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is large enough to fit a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. When ready to make your tart, line your tin with the pastry, keeping any offcuts in case you need to plug any holes after blind baking.
- Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2.
- Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, until golden and sandy textured. Leave to cool while you prepare the custard.
- In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Put the cream into a pan, slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the cream. (Place the empty pod in a jar of caster sugar to make vanilla sugar.)
- Heat the cream until it just starts to come to the boil, then pour it in a thin stream into the yolks, whisking as you do. Return the whole mixture to the pan and heat very gently, stirring continuously, until it thickens slightly.
- Strain the custard into a jug. If there are any lumps in the custard (caused by cooking it at too high a temperature), give it a whizz with a handheld blender until it is completely smooth.
- Pour the custard into the baked tart shell and return to the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the filling feels firm but still a little wobbly to the touch. Grate the nutmeg all over the surface and allow to cool completely. (The custard will set further.) Once cooled, cut and serve.
Scatter 100g of any of the following fruit evenly into the baked shell before pouring the custard over and baking:
- Ripe raspberries
- Stoned cherries, macerated in brandy
- Cooked rhubarb pieces, strained to remove excess liquid
- Prunes soaked in 200ml strong Earl Grey tea, drained and then heated gently with 2tbsp brandy.