As a little girl growing up in Herne Bay in Kent, one of my earliest food memories was the Saturday morning promise of a trip to Dunn’s Bakery on the High Street – http://dunnsbakery-hernebay.co.uk/ The warmth of the shop, the smell of freshly baked cakes and bread and sausage rolls, and the delight of choosing something from the rows of iced treats. My Mum always had a jam doughnut, my Dad a Chelsea bun, my sister an iced finger. For some reason my cake of choice was their English Custard Tart.
Recently the delis and coffee shops of London seem to have been over-run with the English Custard Tart’s sexier Portuguese cousin. The pastry a little uneven, more romantic somehow, the custard browned in inviting patches like they’ve been baked in a big old blue Aga, by a happy smiling woman, made more beautiful by the smattering of flour in her hair. Portuguese Custard Tarts, for me, are somehow more than a cake. They say, look at me, look how cool and relaxed and effortlessly delicious I am.
So on Sunday afternoon I decided to give in to the romanticism of it all and make some of my own.
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
115g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml full fat milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon (to taste)
ground cinnamon (to taste)
One sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/180C fan/Gas 6 and grease a 12-hole cake tin.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, egg and yolks in a pan and then slowly add the milk until smooth.
3. Stir the mixture over a medium heat until it thickens and comes to the boil.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.
5. Pour the custard into a ceramic or glass bowl and cover with cling film (to prevent a skin forming). Leave to cool.
6. Cut the pastry sheet in half and put one piece on top of the other. Roll the pastry, from the short side, into a tight log, and cut it into 12 rounds.
7. Roll each round into a disc on a floured surface, and then press into the cake tin.
8. When cooled, fill the pastry cases with the custard and bake for 20-25min or so until golden on the top. Don’t overfill the cases – bake any extra in a ramekin for a perfect little treat for a toddler (or a hungry baker!).
These are best eaten warm straight from the oven. Sprinkling flour in your hair is optional.
These Portuguese Custard Tarts were cooked to the sounds of The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses, and David Bowie, Hunky Dory, both on vinyl.