Custard Tart Recipe by Johnny Shepherd
Custard tart is a classic English dessert dating back to medieval times – featuring at the coronation of King Henry IV in 1399. Often, the cream was substituted for almond milk during Lent by the wealthy. I suggest adding a twist to the tart by flavouring the custard with bergamot, the flavour of Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey was established by a jealous English tea merchant imitating more expensive Chinese teas in the nineteenth century. I can’t help thinking that the Chinese may now be jealous of this custard tart.
– 350g sweet pastry
– Flour, for dusting
– 7 large egg yolks
– 625g double cream
– 8 Earl Grey tea bags or 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out(optional)
– 75g caster sugar
– 1 whole nutmeg
1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 3mm thick.
2. Use it to line a greased 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, prick all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
3. Line the pastry shell with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Remove the foil and baking beans and return the pastry case to the oven for 1–2 minutes, until it is a good golden brown colour all over.
4. Lightly beat one of the egg yolks, remove the pastry case from the oven and brush egg all over the inside of the pastry case to seal. Return it to the oven for 1 more minute, then remove and leave to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 120°C/250°F/Gas mark 1/2 ½.
5. For the custard, put the cream and the Earl Grey tea bags or vanilla, if using, in a heavy-based saucepan with half of the sugar. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. If using the tea bags, strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, squeezing the tea bags gently in the sieve.
6. Whisk the remaining egg yolks with the remaining sugar in another bowl, then slowly pour over the warm double cream and whisk together. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
7. Place the pastry case in the oven, leaving enough space above to pour from the jug. Pour the custard into the pastry case and grate nutmeg liberally all over. Bake for 50–55 minutes, until there is a gentle wobble in the centre of the tart. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a rack to cool.
8. Leave to cool completely, then serve with a cup of Chinese tea.
Johnny Shepherd is the artisan pudding master of The Pudding Stop and The Pudmobile in St Albans. He creates baking favourites using only the best local, seasonal and organic ingredients he can find.
After competing on THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF, Johnny decided to pursue his passion and talent for baking by bringing his grandfather’s old business back to life. Johnny now does a thriving trade and was shortlisted for the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards in 2012. Food critic Charles Campion said that ‘the pudmobile is a shrine to pudding’ and chef Valentine Warner declared Johnny’s custard tart was the best he’d ever eaten.
This new cookbook is full of family favourites; delicious puddings to bring back fond memories and guarantee that someone will lick the baking bowl clean.
Recipes from Johnny Shepherd’s Puddings: Over 100 Classic Puddings from Cakes, Tarts, Crumbles and Pies to all Things Chocolatey, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback at £20, eBook: £10.99.
Photography by Andrew Burton