Recently I’ve developed a bit of a girl crush on Recipe Rifle and her fantastic blog. Regardless of the fact she makes delicious looking cakes and treats, I’m captivated by her very real accounts of motherhood and the challenges/emotions it throws in your way. How she finds time to bake whilst raising 2 kids is beyond me, let alone writing it all down, but her efforts suitably guilted me into feeling like I should/could do some baking myself, seeing as I only have one baby..
On my seemingly endless trips out for coffee and cake these days, I have become rather addicted to Portugese Custard Tarts. They initially scared the bejaysus out of me at the prospect of baking them (my pastry skills are somewhat…errr…non-existent) but after trawling through several recipes online I discovered that most people tend to use the ready-made puff pastry rolls you can buy in the supermarket. My conscience rested, I decided to use them and plough on. Taking hints and tips from a variety of recipes I found a simple and fairly foolproof method that makes the most delicious tarts, with the least effort possible.
Ready rolled puff pastry sheet (you can make your own puff pastry should you be mad enough to want to)
1 1/4 cups of skimmed milk
3/4s of a cup of double cream
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of plain flour (sieved)
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Vanilla pod
2 slices of lemon peel
Butter for greasing
1. Put the milk, cream, sugar, flour, egg yolks and salt into a saucepan and whisk until all the ingredients are blended well and there are no lumps.
2. Slice the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out the seeds adding them to the saucepan. Whisk again until the seeds are well incorporated.
3. Place the saucepan over a low heat and add in the cinnamon stick, vanilla pod and lemon peel.
4. Continue to slowly mix the custard with the whisk as it heats through. Don’t be tempted to get impatient and turn the heat up as the eggs could well scramble and the custard will be ruined. Keep the heat low and the stirring constant. After about 5 minutes the custard should have thickened to a velvety consistency, but still be easy to pour.
5. Pour the custard into a separate bowl and cover. Leave to cool through completely.
6. When the custard is cooled grease a Yorkshire pudding or muffin tray with a little butter. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 350F or Gas Mark 4.
7. Take the pastry from the fridge and place onto a floured surface. Roll the pastry out until it’s evenly halved in thickness. The thinner you roll the pastry the crumblier your tart cases will be.
8. Roll the pastry up like a long cigar and then cut into 3cm chunks.
9. One by one place the pastry pieces in the tray, sit them up on their ends so you can see the rolls and gently but firmly press your thumb down into the centre of the roll. Using your fingers gently press the pastry out to the sides of the tray moulds so you end up with a cup shape.
10. Remove the lemon peel, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick from the cooled custard.
11. Spoon the custard into the pastry cups filling to about 3/4s of the way to the top.
12. Put the tarts into the oven for 20-25 mins. Keep an eye on them and when the pastry has turned a golden brown and the custard has started to burn then they should be done.
13. Remove from the oven and consume greedily with a cup of tea whilst your baby naps.