Sunday, March 20, 2011

Custard tarts

I have always wanted to make custard tarts, and even have a number of recipes bookmarked, dog-eared, photocopied and handwritten(!). Like many things I want to make, it was on a list and had to wait its* turn. This list does not exist on paper, but rather in my head, where items on it come and go, depending on the whims of my memory and what I'm craving at the moment. 

The reason this recipe vaulted to the top of the list is that I signed up to test it for Food52's contest on late winter tarts. The recipe is by a member called checker, and you really should read the original post here, as the instructions are much funnier than mine. I really enjoy testing the recipes, but I always worry about giving feedback on them. What if I don't like it? I don't want anyone to think I'm a big meanie. For that reason, I only choose recipes I am confident I'll love, and this one fit that category nicely. The other difficult thing about testing recipes is making them as written. I find this a very difficult task, which is why I only test a recipe a month. Of course, next time I make this I'll make some changes, but minor ones. I'll eliminate the cinnamon and citrus peels. That's it. That's not a big change, is it? Then, for me, they'll be perfect: custardy but not too rich, and with a very flaky pastry. 

Rough puff pastry
makes more than enough for 12 tarts
Source: Gordon Ramsay via BBC Good Food
250g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft (I used chilled)
about 150ml cold water
  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter.
  2. Make a well in the bowl and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Wrap in plastic and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don't overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
  4. Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.
  5. For the tarts, roll it to a 1/4" thick rectangle, then roll the pastry up tightly, starting on a short side. It should look like a spiral from the end. Wrap and refrigerate.
I gave mine an extra turn, just for kicks.

Source: checker, a Food52 member. Here is the original text of the recipe.
4 extra-large egg yolks (I used 6 large yolks)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (I doubled this)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 1" piece lemon peel
1 1" piece orange peel
cinnamon for dusting
icing sugar for dusting
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together yolks, cream, milk, sugar, flour and salt. Add the citrus peels and cinnamon and cook over medium-low heat, whisking or stirring constantly until it is thickened and just beginning to boil. Checker recommends leaving peels and cinnamon in, but I found the flavour strong, so I strained them out at this point.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Cover surface of custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  3. Preheat oven to 400℉/200℃. Have ready a 12-cup muffin tray.
  4. Remove pastry from fridge and make 12 1/4" slices. Now, the original recipe has you flatten and stretch these by hand to form a cup, but I just bashed them in my tortilla press, between pieces of lightly floured waxed paper, then finished stretching them to fill the muffin cups. The tortilla press kept them nice and round. If you haven't got one, we can't be friends. I mean, take one circle of dough, rest it on your fingertips and use your thumbs to press the centre, while rotating it, until you have a circle big enough to fit in your muffin tin. It's easy, but tricky to explain. I'll try to get a photo next time. Transfer to tin, and refrigerate for a few minutes if the pastry seems warm or greasy at all.
  5. Fill each pastry case with custard to within ½" of the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until custard is set and pastry is golden. Cool on a rack, dust with cinnamon and icing sugar and serve. 
There should be a photo of one with a bite out of it right about here, but it was impossible to stop after just one bite. Maybe next time....

*It's not "it's", it's "its" for possession/belonging/attributes. I'll rant more about that another day.


Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

These sound delicious Mary! I've never had custard tarts before, but I know I'd like them! I can only imagine how yummy they would be... I'd probably like them your way {with out the cinnamon and citrus peel} :)

Unknown said...

I love tarts, this are adorable and I bet so very tasty. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Yum! These look delicious, and I think I have all those items on hand! Thanks for posting the recipe!

cocoa and coconut said...

Well done for crossing this recipe off your list. I've wanted to make these for a while too! They look absolutely golden and custardy!!

Heather said...

Custard tarts are dreamy. Yours look fabulous!

Gitte said...

Who can stop after just one bite :) I know I can't. They look wonderful!!!

Baking Addict said...

I love custard tarts. Yours look perfect! I made some portugese egg tarts recently but these look miles better!

Cakelaw said...

I adore custard tarts, and these are beauties!

Chats the Comfy Cook said...

I love coming here because of recipes like this. You make the most interesting and delicious looking goodies.

Mimi said...

I haven't crossed these off my list yet. I need to get on it, these look so yummy.

PattiCake said...

Yummy! I love custard tarts. Every time I see one I think of a British comedy I used to watch with my parents. I'll have to try and make these sometime. My dad would appreciate them as well.

Anonymous said...

Great looking tarts! You're funny, giving a negative feedback doesn't make you a meanie, you're entitled to your own opinion. I think an honest opinion is better than flattery. :) I also think the "you're" and "your" sits right up there with the "it's/its" rant! :)

Beth said...

Right you are about its/it's -- and I have to think about it every time I write it!

shewhisks said...

I just dont get this! For the past few days, wherever I look (tv, magazine, blogs) I just see custard tarts everywhere and now you come along with these gorgeoud mouth-watering custard tarts. You're killing me!! They are just too gorgeous. Have never tried them with rough puff pastry though, guess I'll have to rethink my plans for the weekend :-))

Spoon and Chopsticks said...

Yummy! These look delicious. Thanks for sharing.

A Canadian Foodie said...

Yours certainly look lighter than mine. Delicious. With eliminating what you plan to, I think my recipe (for Portuguese Tarts)will almost be the same as this one. I had my first "boughten" one the other day at a pastry shop "famous" for them - and I was pleased as punch with my creation. There was NO comparison to my homemade tarts. The pastry was just sensational... and the creamy custard compliments it well. It was a fun learning experience, but as it isn't part of my heritage, or a significant taste craving, I know I won't make them often. But, love that I can!

Anonymous said...

Can we have lots when we visit, please?