Monday, May 14, 2012

recipe: baked custard tart

years ago, fresh out of hospitality school armed with lofty ideas to take on the f&b industry i'd stay up late watching cooking programmes for inspiration, for whats up and coming, and combing through technical books for recipes and ratios of ingredients. soon, this behaviour turned into a pathological need to make one particular dish/dessert/bread et al. until i was satisfied with the result. my mother will kindly fill in the details of this rather unfortunate period. she was so patient and supportive of these racket-ous middle-of-the-night endeavours.

so if this is in fact a "medical" condition i thought i had rid myself of, i am mistaken because it is just half past one in the morning (on my day off too, i should add), and i am perched on my kitchen stool waiting for my custard tart to cook. this really has got to stop!

(in my (feeble) defense, i am conducting a very important experiment! i am investigating how the ratio of milk to cream affects the consistency of baked custard.)

those who have visited our cafe off late may have realised baked custard tarts have made their way to our display over the past weeks (this is the condition of repeating a recipe over and over again as mentioned in paragraph 1). these included flavour variations like: belgian chocolate, lemon white chocolate, banana, vanilla with fresh berries.

below is the master recipe for the baked custard tart that i have been making which you are welcome to adorn with fresh fruit, berries and chocolate. or a humble sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg if you are a traditionalist (or english).

sweet shortcrust pastry (adapted from one of ramsay's books)

125g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
1/2tsp salt
1 large egg
250g flour

he uses a food processor for this recipe but i use my kenwood benchtop mixer. start with mixing the salt, sugar and butter until no visible lumps of butter are present then add the egg and mix some more until just incorporated. add flour in one lot and mix till everything comes together then  pat dough into a disc and allow to rest in the fridge until it gets firm - this should take about 30 minutes. i'd like to add that at this stage you can go straight to patting the dough into a fluted tart tin then allowing it to rest for an hour before blindbaking in an oven preheated to 180C for about 20 minutes. it certainly expedites the preparation process and does away with the need for a rolling pin.

vanilla custard (milk:cream; 1:5)
this recipe i have repeated with success and will yield a firmer custard in comparison to the darn-tart (chinese egg tarts). delicious velvety texture when warm and denser texture when chilled.

500g cream
100g whole milk
60g sugar
1 plump vanilla pod, split and seeded
110g eggs
50g yolks
pinch of salt

you begin by warming the cream and milk together, being careful not to boil the mix then drop in the vanilla pod and seeds to infuse for the next hour though overnight would be ideal ("good things come to those who wait" - the cliche applies to cookery as well!). whisk the eggs and yolks with the salt and sugar then add to the dairy-vanilla infusion. pour the mix through a sieve into the baked tart shell and depending on the temperature of the mixture, you'll need to bake it in an oven pre-heated to 140C for 45-60 minutes. or until the surface quivers when you give the tin a sharp tap (i think a video might help here to show you what i mean, but please bear with me, im not quite tech-savvy).

currently, i am testing a milk:cream ratio of 2:4 and i have infused this dairy mix with english breakfast tea, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom.

yes, its going to be a chai flavoured custard tart and i've just spoken to the tart to cook a little faster.

can't wait to try it.

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