I’ve eaten English custard tarts before and sadly wasn’t impressed by their general soggy texture and bland appearance. However, I was bowled over by the rustic looking Portuguese custard tart – though similar in name, the two are incomparable in all other domains. A family friend gave me an amazing recipe book called ‘Coffee and Bites’ by Susie Theodorou. Her recipe for these tarts is easy to follow and the custard is so delicious I now use it in other recipes. I’ve taken a few photos so pastry preparation is easier to understand.
Butter (for greasing)
200g (7oz) ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed if frozen
300ml (10floz) double cream
150ml (5floz) milk
1 vanilla pod halved lengthways (1tsp vanilla extract)
50g (2oz) vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)
6 egg yolks
icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 240C, 220-230C fan, gas mark 9 and place a heavy-based baking tray in the oven to heat up.
- Grease about 8 holes in a muffin tray with butter and place a circle of greaseproof paper in the bottom of each.
- Cut 8 1cm wide strips from the width (shorter) end of the pastry and role each one up like a wheel, then flatten each with a rolling pin. Stamp each of these into about 5cm diameter circles.
- Roll the remaining pastry to a 2mm thickness. Cut out 8 strips each 4cm (1.5 in) wide and 25cm (10in) long.
- Loosely line the inside of the muffin moulds with the long strip and then place the circular piece in the bottom using your fingers to seal the pastry together forming a pastry case.
- Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill and then prick the bases. Meanwhile make the custard.
- Put the cream, milk, vanilla pod/ extract and sugar into a pan and heat gently whilst stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Bring to just below boiling point and remove from the heat. Remove the pod and scape the seeds into the cream mix.
- Beat the egg yolks and, once it has cooled a little pour the cream mixture over the top whilst stirring with a spoon.
- Strain the custard into a jug and pour into the pastry cases half way.
- Place the muffin tray on the preheated baking tray in the oven and top up the custard so the tarts are nearly full (this is to avoid spillages when transferring the tarts). Dust with icing sugar.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the custard has puffed up and caramelised in places and the pastry is golden brown.
- Cool for ten minutes then remove from the tin and place onto a wire cooling rack.
These taste great when they are still warm or you can reheat them later.