egg custard tart

IMG_2188Hand on heart, it is honestly no exaggeration to say that this custard tart has driven me to despair. For weeks I’ve been trying to achieve well baked custard, perfectly seasoned with nutmeg, encased by buttery shortcrust pastry. Many methods, recipes, ingredients, and even baking dishes have been used, and AT LAST: success. I’m not sure if egg custard tart is technically difficult to complete, but I hope that if anyone else has ever similarly struggled, this recipe will give you a disaster-free, fool-proof custard tart.

When Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood set the tart as a challenge on Great British Bake Off, my dad (who swears/lies that he ‘never watches that show’ when in company) said he had fond childhood memories of it being baked by his mum, and devoured by him and his siblings. So I thought I’d make one. It was terrible (the recipe for sweet pastry came out like a cake batter; then like a half burnt flan) and initiated a series of crippling self doubts; an existential crisis unfolded in the kitchen, leading me to bake two more tarts that day, both of which were failures. With no eggs left, I did the honourable IMG_2029thing: turn to beer and call it a day.

Not to be defeated, the next week I tried again [right]. Mixed results: individual components were fine; together, a disaster. The pastry was too thin – it split in the oven, the custard leaked out, dripped onto the tray and onto the oven, leaving a blackened custard and the smell of charred eggy nutmeg. A similar dearth of eggs, and now a depleted alcohol supply.

Growing desperate, I called my granny and asked how she made it. What could be better than to revive the actual recipe that my dad had fond memories of? The one thing she said to do was “watch it – if it’s in there too long, it’ll come out watery and ruined”. I’m pretty sure I was watching it, but it all happened so fast and before I knew it, a watery shiny substance had flooded the pastry case. Broken, I decided to give custard tarts a rest for a while.

But finally. Finally, nearly a month after that episode of Great British Bake Off aired, I have successfully made an egg custard tart. The only problem is, I don’t really like dairy and I don’t have a sweet tooth, so…I’m not sure if it’s for me.

Ingredients

  • 75g butter or margarine
  • 150g plain flour
  • Cold water, as necessary
  • 400ml whole milkIMG_2193
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 51g caster sugar
  • ½ clove of fresh nutmeg, grated finely

Method

  1. Rub the flour and butter together until fine breadcrumbs form. Add tiny amounts of water gradually, just enough to bring it together as a pastry dough. Cover with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  3. Roll out the pastry 2cm wider than the pastry dish, and line the case, leaving the 2cm extra to hang over the side. Place baking beans in the pastry and blind bake for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove the baking beans and place the pastry back in the oven to cook through fully for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Heat the milk over a low heat until it just comes to the boil. Grate in nutmeg and stir.
  6. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl, until pale and fluffy. Remove the milk from the heat, and add to the egg yolks, whisking all the time.
  7. Leave the custard to stand, removing any froth from the top with a spoon.
  8. Take the pastry case out of the oven, and fill with the custard. Grate more nutmeg over the top, and put into the oven for 20 minutes.
  9. The custard should dome slightly, and bounce back when touched. It should have some movement, but not be jelly-like. Leave the custard tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
  10. After this time, cut the excess pastry from around the rim of the dish to give an even crust. Remove the custard tart from the tin, and serve.
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scotch pancakes

IngredientsIMG_0971

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 30g sugar (preferably Caster, but Demerara is also fine)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml cold milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 dessert spoon of jam
  • Fresh fruit, sliced
  • Icing sugar, to dust

Method

  1. Warm the oven.
  2.  Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix, then make a well in the centre.
  3. Add the large egg and milk, and beat the ingredients into a thick batter. If the batter is too runny, add more flour; if too stodgy, add milk.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat a little oil. Add a tablespoon of batter to the pan, and shape into a circle. Fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip with a spatula. Fry on the other side until golden brown, then transfer to a plate. Keep going until you have enough pancakes, keeping the cooked pancakes warm in a preheated oven.
  5. Stack the pancakes, dust with icing sugar, and spoon over the jam. Add the fresh fruit, and serve.

easter chocolate mousse

Happy Easter Weekend! The long weekend is only just beginning, with a well-deserved rest ahead of us all. Whether or not you gave up chocolate for Lent, Easter Sunday is around the corner: I won’t deny an opportunity for special food! What could better mark the occasion than homemade chocolate mousse? These little pots are a winner – just look at the air bubbles! Serve them in egg cups, for a cute Easter feel.

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my chicken egg cup is from the GDR museum in Berlin. I knew it’d be handy one day!

Give these a go on Sunday! You’ll be making them forever after.

Ingredients

  • 100g plain cooking chocolate (or dark chocolate)
  • 2 – 2 ½ tbsps Demerara brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated into yolk and whites
  • 50ml cold water and a splash of lemon juice

Method

  1. Place the water and chocolate into a saucepan. Melt the two together gently, stirring to combine. Do not allow to boil!
  2. Remove the melted chocolate from the hob and mix well. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate and water mix one by one. Beat the yolks into the chocolate, ensuring they are totally broken up. This should give the chocolate a nice shiny appearance.
  3. In a large, clean bowl, place the egg whites. Add the splash of lemon juice. Whisk to soft peaks – you can use either an electric or hand held whisk. Then, begin to gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat well until the sugar is combined and stiff peaks are formed. Be careful not to overbeat!
  4. Then, add the egg whites to the chocolate mixture. Do this in stages – gently fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mix, being careful to keep the mixture aerated. Repeat until the whites are totally combined with the chocolate. Give a final gentle stir, and then pour into egg cups for an Easter feel!
  5. Pop in the fridge for 2 hours, then serve.