Egg custard tarts ( a misdemeanour)

egg custard tarts

True to the spirit of this blog allow me to share with you a somewhat disappointing bake I did today. Even Tomik the cat is not happy about appearing in the picture as you can see. Well…I can’t always brag about my successes, can I? So let me share with you what went wrong in attempting to bake these egg custard tarts. Ok, I am being a bit harsh on myself as they weren’t a COMPLETE disaster BUT they were far from being perfect. VERY far. First of all let me tell you why I decided to bake them in the first place: it was the result of watching the Great British Bake off  programme on Tuesday (which I LOVE, by the way)! For the Italians reading this blog: this is the fourth series of a very entertaining reality TV programme shown on BBC 2. It’s actually one of the few things I watch these days. It inspires me to try new things never attempted before (I made bagels following one of the episodes in the previous series) and it’s highly entertaining. For anyone who has an interest in baking, that is. Every week the contestants have to bake three things: two that they have known about in advance and one they haven’t. The worst baker gets knocked out. This week the “secret” recipe (or technical challenge as it is called) was indeed egg custard tarts. Well…what could be difficult about them? They seem rather innocuous, right? WRONG! Let me tell you: they are far from easy to make. Even the expert bakers in the programme struggled with this challenge. But did this deter me? Did it hell! I decided I would have a go as I had never made them before and I rather fancied them. To remain in the spirit of the programme I followed the Paul Hollywood recipe (one of the presenters). Let me tell you: I would have been knocked out of the competition pronto judging by what I produced. So what was wrong with them? Weeeeelllll….First of all: the pastry wasn’t crisp enough. I only have silicone muffin cases and I have realized that silicone and shortcrust pastry don’t go well together. The pastry sweats too much and the result is that the bottom gets all soggy. Note to self: next time I MUST use a metal tin. Problem 2: they were not deep enough. There was not enough custard mixture inside them. I should have cut a larger circle only my cutter wasn’t big enough. Note to self: I must invest in an 11 cm. cutter. Problem 3: they were rather uneven: some bigger, some smaller. Oh well! Better luck next time. In truth we did eat a couple with our cup of tea so at least they didn’t end up in the bin. I doubt I will be making them again in a hurry though, not least because I thought they were a bit bland. Perhaps adding a bit of lemon zest to the custard mixture would improve the taste.

HOWEVER, on the plus side, and to confirm that every cloud has a silver lining, I also made some blackberry and lemon friandes this afternoon to use up the inordinate number of egg whites I was left with , and guess what? They were delicious! So I’ll blog them next to compensate for the misshap.

From the BBC Good Food website:

Note: I made the shortcrust pastry using my food processor. Life is not long enough to do  it by hand. Also I thought that the quantity of the custard was too much. I would use 5 eggs and 500 ml milk if I had to make them again.


For the sweet pastry
For the custard filling

Preparation method

  1. To make the pastry, stir the flour and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  2. Break in the egg and work it into the mixture with your fingers, bringing it together to form a soft dough.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Flatten with your fingers to a disc and wrap in cling film. Leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  5. Roll out the sweet pastry on a lightly floured work surface.
    Using an 11cm/4½in fluted cutter, cut out twelve discs and line the muffin tray moulds with the pastry circle. The pastry should overlap the top of the moulds by a few millimetres, so that you can crimp the edges if you wish.
  6. For the custard filling, warm the milk in a saucepan, and beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and creamy.
  7. Pour the milk onto the egg yolk mixture and stir well, creating little bubbles.
  8. Transfer the custard mixture into a pouring jug with a lip, then fill each of the tart cases.
  9. Sprinkle a small pinch of ground nutmeg into the middle of each tart.
  10. Bake the tarts in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for another 10 minutes. You are looking for a very slight dome on the custard, indicating that it is baked. If the custard domes too much this indicates that you have over-cooked the custard, it will have boiled, and will sink back down leaving a big dip. If this does happen you can help rescue it by removing the tarts from the oven immediately and placing the tin in cold water on a cold surface.
  11. Cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then carefully remove from the moulds. The base of the tarts should be perfectly baked through, without having over-cooked the custard filling.

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