The humble Custard Tart. Who’d have thought a little pastry bowl, filled with some creamy custard could be so delicious? Something so simple but that works so unbelievably well.
I had actually been thinking about doing this recipe for a while now but the idea of experimenting with custard somewhat scared me. Hands up, I’m a Birds Custard girl through and through! Whenever I’ve fancied custard with something like our Sticky Toffee Pudding or Apple Pie, I simply grab a tub of good old fashioned Birds Custard Powder and fulfil my custard needs the easy way.
The idea of real custard, made with milk, sugar and eggs was a whole other world to me. But for that sweet creamy custard, that sets almost like jelly, which is essential for a Custard Tart, fresh custard is a must.
And guess what? Custard is waaaay easier than I had built it up to be. Not quite spoonful-of-powder-into-some-milk easy. But certainly not harder than any other aspect of baking. Of course there can be issues that may arise (hello sweet scrambled eggs from milk that is too hot!) but as long as your follow the recipe, you can’t really go wrong.
What’s also great about this Custard Tarts recipe is that it focuses on two key processes in many areas of baking: Making pastry and making the custard. Once you’ve mastered either (or both!) of these skills, the world of opportunity in baking becomes even more exciting.
You’ll notice that in this recipe caster sugar is used in both the pastry and the custard, that is because we are using a sweet, rich pastry for the casing of these little custard tarts. So you’ll need a total of 100g of caster sugar but in separate quantities of 65g and 35g.
Butter or Margarine
All pastry recipes require a fat and since this is a rich shortcrust pastry, butter or margarine is best. If you do opt for margarine try to get a block margarine as opposed to a spreadable one – this will make your pastry easier to work with and not too soft.
Flour is another must-have for the pastry part of the tarts. Again, this is a shortcrust pastry so no raising agents are required; good old fashioned plain flour is perfect.
A total of 4 eggs is required for the entirety on of this recipe, however that only consists of 1 whole egg and then 3 egg yolks. The whole egg is going into the pastry mixture and adds that extra richness we want, as well as helping bind the pastry.
The egg yolks are for the custard – don’t just throw away the egg whites though! We will have a recipe that you can use these in coming soon, or you can simply use them in an omelette in the meantime.
When it comes to making custard, a full-fat milk will give you a richer custard but talking from experience, any milk will really do.
Nutmeg just belongs with custard, especially on a custard tart. You could use fresh nutmeg (if you have it) but ground nutmeg is what I always have in, so that’s what this recipe uses.
Granny’s Top Tips:
• You can use Ready-Roll Shortcrust Pastry for this recipe. However it’s super easy to make our own pastry, plus it tastes much nicer.
• It is also mentioned in the recipe too but it is really important not to boil or over-heat your milk. If your milk is too hot, it will cook your egg yolks when it comes to mixing it into the custard. Warm is all this is needed and I find the easiest way to measure this is just by touch – dip a clean(!) finger into your milk periodically to monitor the temperature of it.
For the Custard
- 300 ml Milk
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 35 g Caster Sugar
- Ground Nutmeg
For the Pastry
- In a large bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter/margarine until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined – if the mixture looks like it's starting to curdle, simply add a tbsp of your flour to help the mixture bind.
- Sift in the flour and mix to create a dough, using your hands when it starts to come together. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and gently knead until it is smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
- Once your dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and pre-heat your oven to 180°c (160°c for fan assisted ovens or Gas Mark 4). Generously grease a 12-cup bun tray with some butter/margarine and set aside.
- Gently knead your dough on a floured surface, before rolling it out to 5mm thickness. Using a cutter slightly larger than the hole on your bun tray, cut the pastry into circles (a 9cm with fluted edges cutter should be good). Place each circle into your prepared bun tray, ensuring they are moulded into the bottom and the edges of your bun tray, taking care not to trap air under the pastry.
- Once you have all 12 of your pastry casings ready, pop the tray into the fridge while your prepare the custard.
For the Custard
- In a small milk pan, gently warm the milk over a medium heat but do not allow it to boil.
- Whilst the milk is warming up, in a large jug whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together with a fork until it become lighter in colour and a creamy consistency.
- Once your milk has warmed up, pour it into the jug over the egg/sugar, continuing to stir the mixture whilst you do.
- Remove your pastry casings from the fridge and pour the custard evenly into each tart; they should be nearly full. Then sprinkle a little pinch of nutmeg on top of the custard in each tart.
- Very carefully (because your custard can spill!), pop the tarts into your pre-heated oven and bake them for 20-25 minutes. Allow the tarts to cool in the tray for at least 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely, or enjoy whilst still warm.