Custard Tarts

Custard Tarts

Ready, set, BAKE! The Great British Bake Off is back and I am obsessed. Each week, the Bafta award winning show grips the nation as Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood whittle out good crumbs from the soggy bottoms.

Baking is fun, but baking disasters are all part of the process. I once used cumin instead of cinnamon to flavour my baked apples in an FT lesson; safe to say I have now learned to read labels properly…  Watching other people’s baking disasters is also very nerve wracking, especially when your favourite contestant has just used salt instead of sugar, or has watched the middle fall out of their uncooked cake.

The technical challenge is one that is usually full of a few disasters. Contestants are given a recipe, but all technical aspects and methods are excluded from the instructions. Last week we watched in vain as bakers tried their hand at custard tarts. Removing the tarts from the tray proved difficult, and there was soggy bottoms and uncooked custard all over the bake-off kitchen. Things were tense!

Having never made a custard tart myself, I was intrigued. I took up the challenge under the safety that Mary and Paul’s harsh tongues wouldn’t judge me. The secret is making sure that the pastry is cooked but the egg custard isn’t over done. By following Paul Hollywood’s recipe below, everything went pretty much to plan, however if you are making smaller tarts, you will need to watch your cooking times.

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry

  • 165g/5¾oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 25g/1oz ground almonds
  • 120g/4¼oz chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 55g/2oz caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg

For the custard filling

  • 700ml/1¼ pint full-fat milk
  • 7 free-range egg yolks
  • 90g/3¼oz caster sugar
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Make the pastry:

1)   Cut the cold butter into cubes and rub it into the flour and almonds with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.

2)   Break in the egg and use your fingers to mix it together to form soft sticky dough. Put the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball and flatten it into a disk with your fingers. Then pop this in the fridge in cling film to chill for 30 minutes.

3)   Now preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6.

4)   Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, then use an 11cm/4.5 inch fluted cutter to cut out 12 discs. Line the muffin tray with the circle ensuring that the pastry overlaps the top of the mould by a few millimetres.

 

For the egg custard:

1)   Warm the milk. In a separate bowl, beat in the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.

2)   Pour the milk onto the egg yolks and stir well to create little bubbles. Now transfer this into a jug and fill each pastry case with custard.

3)   Sprinkle each tart with nutmeg and bake them for 10-15 minutes at 200C. Now turn the temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 10 minutes.

I used sneaky greaseproof tabs so I could remove them easily
I used sneaky greaseproof tabs so I could remove them easily

4)   Look for a golden pastry and a slight dome in the custard, which indicates it is baked. Too much dome means the custard is overcooked so watch out!

Custard Tarts

Make your own Mojito

Mojito’s are my all time favourite cocktails. I keep trying different ones but none of them compare to a classic or even-not-so classic mojito. I work in a cocktail bar, so I’m cheating a bit with this recipe as I make it over and over again for customers.

If you want to know a bit of history, the mojito made it big during the prohibition period in America. This is when all alcohol was banned for consumption. To get round this, Americans would escape to cuba to indulge in both sun and rum!

I suggest using a cuban rum like Havana Club or Bacardi to stay authentic! To tell if a rum is originally from Cuba, look for the ‘Sello de Garantía’, the seal of authenticity which is fixed to each and every bottle that is exported, by the Cuban government.

Mojito’s are cold, refreshing and light; making them perfect for drinking on a hot summers day or evening.

Mojito's

To make your own cuban style mojito you will need:

  • Caster sugar
  • Limes
  • Lime juice
  • Rum- white or gold depending on preference
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Crushed ice
  • Soda water OR lemonade, ginger beer or apple juice.

If you are lucky enough to have a proper cocktail kit with bar spoon etc, I’m guessing you know a thing or two about making them, therefore I will write this suggesting equipment everyone has at home so that everyone can make one!

  • tea spoon
  • long sundae spoon or regular fork
  • high ball glass

1) Pour 4-5 tea spoons of caster sugar into your glass, I like mine extra sweet so I usually use 5. Then squeeze in half a lime, and 1 tea spoon of shop bought lime juice. Then add 50 mls of rum and stir it all together with the fork or sundae spoon to start dissolving the sugar.

2) Fill your glass up half way with crushed ice. Take about 12 mint leaves, and one chopped up mint stem in the palm of your hand; clap it, wipe it around the top of the glass and then throw it on top of the ice. We phrase this slightly more crudely at work… Then use your spoon or fork in a churning motion to mix in the mint with the ice and bruise it to release the flavour.

3) Pull up a few of the mint leaves with the spoon so they are spread through your drink, then fill the glass completely with crushed ice, before topping with soda water.

4) Serve with a sprig of mint by the straws and a wedge of lime.

If you have a really sweet tooth, you can top it with lemonade or apple juice. I also love mojito’s with ginger beer, especially if you are using a spice or gold rum.

Snickerdoodles

Nope, I didn’t know what these were either, I just made them for the name. But they did not let me down!

Imagine a biscuit, which is a bit like a cake but tastes like a cinnamon sugar donut. That is a Snickerdoodle.

They are a lot more known in America it seems, but I think Britain should bite the biscuit and get involved too, these things are incredibly moreish. I have eaten 5 already today.

Snickerdoodles

Sorry to Snickers fans, they are not included in the recipe, but I reckon you should buy a Snickers anyway, and melt it over one of these doodles with some ice-cream- Snickersnickerdoodles.

This is Nigella Lawson’s recipe with a tweak!

You will need:

  • 80g wholemeal plain flour
  • 170g plain flour (alternatively use 250g of plain and no wholemeal flour)
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

1) Cream together the sugar and butter until it is fluffy.

2) add the egg and vanilla essence and continue to whisk it until smooth and creamy.

3) In a separate bowl combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, then add it to the butter mix and stir with a metal spoon until it is all mixed into a dough.

4) On a plate, spoon out the sugar and cinnamon. Roll walnut size pieces of dough into balls in your palms, then roll them in the sugar and cinnamon. If you are unsure of the size of a walnut (I was…) then imagine a large Brussels sprout, or a golf ball.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

5) place your Doodles onto baking parchment, you can get up to 32 of them out of the dough! Or you could try making giant ones.

Snickerdoodles

6) Bake at 180 degrees for 15 mins, then remove to cool.

Eat them warm with tea, or dipped in jam. They’re just as great cold. Let me know what you think of them!

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles