This recipe will make one six to seven inch, 15 to 17 cm, tart.
I have included the American cup measures. Standard measuring cups, used in this recipe, can be bought in England from any good hardware store or kitchenware supplier.
For the pastry you will need:
- 4 oz, 110 g, or one full cup of plain or all purpose flour.
- a small pinch of salt.
- use half the amount of fat to flour. Take your fat straight from the fridge and use either, 2 oz, 50 g, of lard or other hard white cooking fat, (or 1 oz, 25 g each of both lard and margarine. (American measures, either use, half a stick unflavoured Crisco, or a quarter stick, margarine and a quarter stick unflavoured Crisco). The type of fat you choose to use will give your pastry a different flavour and texture and is just literally a matter of personal choice.
- several tablespoons of cold water to mix the pastry.
For the filling you will need:
- 2 large eggs.
- 1 level tbsp of granulated sugar.
- half a pint, 275 ml, 10 fl.oz, of milk. (American one full cup plus a couple of extra tablespoons.
- half a tsp of grated, ground, or powdered nutmeg.
- Heat the oven to hot, Gas Mark 7, 425 f, 220 c, 200 fan.
- You will need to grease a 6 to 7 inch, 15 to 17 cm, diameter flan tin or solid based cake tin with a flat rim and a depth of 2 to 3 inches, or 5 to 7.5 cm.
- Begin by sifting the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Cut or break the fat into small pieces and drop it into the centre of the flour.
- Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Do this by picking up a little of the mixture with the first two fingers and thumbs of both hands, then use your thumbs to rub the mixture against your fingers, lifting your hands a little above the bowl and letting the mix trickle through your fingers, back into the bowl again. Repeat this process until all the fat has been rubbed in. (Please see my section on making and rolling out pastry for more detailed information). Don’t be tempted to over work the pastry mix at this stage as it will begin to stick together if it becomes too warm.
- Start making the dough by adding 3 to 4 tablespoons of cold water to the dry mixture, stirring it round with a blunt, flat-bladed knife, which will help to begin to bring the dough together. Add more water if necessary until the knife feels more resistant as you mix. You will notice that the pastry is beginning to come together in a ball. Don’t be tempted to use your hands until you have reached this stage. Now, use one hand to bring the mixture into a firm dough. If it won’t form a ball easily and bits of dry mixture keep falling into the bowl, drop it back in and add a little more cold water, mix it, and try making it into a ball again.
- Knead the pastry on a floured work surface or counter top for a few seconds to form a nice round shape. Roll out the pastry in to a circle that is 1 inch, 2.5 cm, larger than your tin. You can check the size by placing the tin upside down on top of your pastry, an inch, 2.5 cm, should then be protruding all the way round. The pastry shouldn’t be too thin, as it has got to support the runny egg mixture.
- Next, line the tin with the pastry. Make sure that it is sitting nice and flat, pressed right up against the base and sides of the tin, without feeling stretched.
- Now, using a pastry brush or your fingers, dampen the edge of the pastry that is resting on the rim of the tin. I usually do this by putting a little cold water into a teacup, then, holding the cup in one hand, dip the fingers of my other hand into the water and run them round the pastry edge.
- Next, lift up the pastry that is below the rim of the plate and lay this along your dampened edge. All you are doing is folding it over, forming a double thickness of pastry to prevent the rim of the tart from burning when it goes into the hot oven.
- Chill the pastry case in the fridge while you make the custard.
To make the custard:
- Break the eggs separately into a small bowl to make sure that they are fresh, then pour them into a jug.
- Whisk them lightly with a fork then add the sugar.
- Warm the milk either in a jug in the microwave or a small pan on the stove until just warm but don’t bring it anywhere near to boiling point. It only needs to be warm so that it isn’t cold when it is poured into the pastry case.
- Add the milk to the sweetened egg in the jug and give it a stir.
- Take your pastry from the fridge, place your tin onto a baking tray with raised edges to give support when you lift it, and to prevent it from sliding off.
- Now pour the custard into the pastry case, but do not fill it right to the top or it will boil over during cooking.
- Sprinkle the top with a little nutmeg.
- Carefully put the tin into the centre of your pre-heated oven. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until the pastry is set, then reduce the heat to warm, Gas Mark 3, 325 f, 170 c, 150 fan, and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard has set.
Egg custard tart is nice eaten either hot or cold.