Early grey custard tarts and mini tart love

biteThis little tart is simple, but stunning. It’s got two comforting ingredients – custard and earl grey tea – but they look super classy, so you can munch on them in front of the tv on a lazy afternoon, or serve them with high tea… they look at home in any setting.

I have a hard time turning down desserts, but tarts hold a special place in my heart – especially mini tarts! There’s something about their dainty little cases, the way there’s always just enough mouthfuls, and how you can get away with gorgeously rich fillings because they’re so tiny. So much yum! I also loved how one of these tarts looked a bit like a face once I’d taken a bite out of it!

Earl Grey Custard and comfort food

aboveI debated over the title of this blog, because technically tea is not a food, it’s a beverage. And when I was growing up, my siblings and I used to try to treat custard like a beverage! I didn’t think that “comfort beverages” sounded right though.

ANYWAY, this tart combines two of my loves – custard and tea. They’re delicious, comforting and… well, what more could you want? Both of them remind me of my dad. He loves traditional egg custard – just the smell of milk warming on the stove makes me think of him! He also introduced me to earl grey tea when I was a child…I hated it! I used to call it soap tea, no matter how much he espoused its merits!

Homemade twix slice and promises:

cornerI dangled this tart in front of your eyes about a week ago. I taunted you with a picture of its shell, ready to go in the oven, and then I never gave you the recipe.

How mean of me!!

To be perfectly honest, I lost the recipe! I had all of the tantalising pictures and could still tell you how delicious it was, but I couldn’t give you the ingredients! One of the problems with me being a blogger is that I’m prone to misplacing things. I used to write my recipes on scraps of paper and then lose them and get disappointed. The Boy bought me a notebook to stop this happening…now I just lose the notebook.

Apple and rhubarb pie and produce

previewOver the weekend the boy and I went to Orange Grove Markets. I got what I needed and we grabbed a delicious bacon and egg roll for brekkie. It was a regular Sunday morning.

It wasn’t until we made our way to leave that I found this amazingly oversized rhubarb. it was so ridiculously enormous that I made The Boy pose with it in several locations until I got a photo that did it justice. (If you don’t follow me on instagram and wish to see important updates such as my giant rhubarb, click here.)

Bakewell cupcakes and English food

aboveRecently I spoke about discovering the deliciousness that is an Eton Mess. There were many things in my year of living in England that stuck out, and I’m just realising that waaaay too many of them are food-related. Yorkshire puddings? Possibly the simplest of all of my food discoveries, but so satisfying. Yorkies – the label says they’re not for girls, but I ate so many of those chocolate bars! I visited tea shops and bakeries and bought ridiculously cheap 12 packs of doughnuts from Asda more frequently than I’d care to admit.

I relished in the healthy things too – proper Sunday roasts, complete with boiled cabbage (which I LOVE) and brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner.

Crabapple crumble pie and the long weekend

samThe Easter long weekend was delightful –  I over-ate, explored some amazing woods, gained two sausage dog friends briefly, and experimented with recipes.

The over-eating was partly the fault of the Easter bunny, who is super generous every year. The rest of the over-eating was simply because I was in great company, and there is no better way to bring people together than a meal.

Vanilla fig tart and a grown up Easter

figI’ve only realised how delightful figs are in the past 18 months or so.

I never used to trust figs because they’re so squidgy and unusually coloured and lacking a core. It’s kind of funny, because those things now make them perfect fodder for my baking. They’re downright beautiful – I searched Pinterest for recipe inspiration and ended up “oohing” and “aahing” at how photogenic such an unassuming fruit could be.

They’re adorable little sacks of beauty.

Figs can be pretty expensive in Sydney, but I found a pack on special (yay!) I wanted to keep the figs as close to natural as possible and pick other flavours that would highlight their sweetness. Vanilla and blueberry make perfect partners in crime for fig.

The great thing about these tarts is that they are a perfect “grown up” option for Easter. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate eggs (I don’t understand you, but I do know you exist), a humble tart like this is a great alternative for an Easter treat. These little tarts are completely customisable – top them with whatever you want! I

Fig and blueberry tart

closeMakes 24

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 135g butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp water

Vanilla crème patissiere

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp corn flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)

Toppings:

  • 2 figs
  • 100g blueberries

yolksRub together your plain flour and butter until they resemble bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and mix, then mix in the egg yolks. Make sure you mix thoroughly so that you don’t have mottled pastry. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time – it may take slightly more or less than three tablespoons to achieve a cohesive dough.

pastryPress your dough together in a ball, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15 mins.

Preheat your oven to 200°C and grab your dough from the fridge. Grease a 12 hole cupcake tin. Roll out your chilled dough to 4-5mm thickness and use a scone cutter to cute circles big enough to fit in the cupcake tin and create a small edge.

prickPrick each tart with a fork and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes.

While the tarts are in the oven, make a start on the crème patissiere.  Bring the milk, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Make sure you stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning the milk. Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the heat and set the mixture to one side.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. This mixture does the same job that store-bought custard powder does. Grab your hot milk and pour it into the egg mixture in small increments (this tempers the mixture and ensures that it won’t separate later, if you pour all the hot milk in at once, you risk burning or cooking the egg mixture), mixing well after each addition.

Once all of the milk is mixed in, you should have a warm, silky mixture. Pour it back into the milk pan and whisk it over a very low heat. Timing is crucial at this point, because you want to thicken the mixture. Whisking constantly to encourage air into the mixture, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the mixture – once the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, take it off the heat and keep whisking. If you leave it on the heat any longer, it will over-cook and start to look like scrambled eggs!* The residual heat in the mixture will cook the crème patissiere further, so whisk for a good five minutes before spooning it into the tart cases.

alternativesSet in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, then top with whatever Easter-appropriate toppings you like, get creative. If you prefer Easter eggs or chocolate and blueberries on your tarts, try that instead – they’ll still look great and taste delicious!

*If you do happen to over-cook the mixture, add a generous dash cold milk and whisk into the mixture until you achieve a smooth crème patissiere.

normanCompletely unrelated to figs or tarts, here is a gratuitous photo of Norman napping. He got so impatient of waiting for the crumbs as I baked the pastry shells that he snuck up onto the lounge and had a sneak sleep.

Lime curd tarts and tart sweets

saucerI wrote yesterday about my body’s desire for things that weren’t sweet. I’ve got a zucchini galette in the oven as I type, and I promise that I’m capable of doing things that aren’t tooth-achingly sweet. But I do love my desserts.

This recipe is not a sweet one. It’s got sugar in it, but the limes cancel out that sweetness instantly. These tarts are face-puckering, jaw-clenching, lime-laden delights.

Lime curd and cravings

limesLately I’ve been craving things that aren’t sweet. Salty, savoury, tart foods. I’m fairly sure this is my body’s way of telling me that I should slow down on the baking, or cut down my sugar intake or something.

Silly body, you love sweet things.

I do listen to it sometimes. I try and eat healthily when I’m not testing baked goods (mostly!) So instead of making cupcakes or a cake for this post, I made some gloriously tart lime curd.

Plum frangipane tart and efficiency

sceneIf you have a friend popping over without a minute’s notice, efficiency is key. I was in a position recently where I had 45 minutes to throw makeup on and prepare something for afternoon tea when I knew that I had used up most of the flour on this cake (coconut raspberry cake.)

So I whipped up this little gem – it’s fast, easy and super impressive. Tarts are usually a pretty impressive dish to serve to people, but a frangipane tart sounds even better, it gives it an air of French sophistication. Try telling your guests that it’s “just a little plum frangipane tart I threw together” without having the smuggest face ever.

The delicious filling of this tart is gluten free, so would be perfect for celiac or gluten-sensitive friends – just make sure you find a reliable gluten free pastry. I’m in the process working out a decent gluten-free pastry, so watch this space. If you’ve got any suggestions for a GF pastry, comment below!

Plum frangipane tart:

Serves 8-10slice

  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
  • 100g butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal
  • 2 large plums

pastryPreheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 35×12 cm tart tin.

Thaw your pastry until it is malleable enough to shape into your tart tin. Prick the uncooked tart shell with a fork, line with baking paper and pour baking weights in. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, take away the baking weights and baking paper, then return to the oven for five minutes.

Make the filling while the tart is in the oven.

plumsCream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and almond essence, then the eggs and egg yolk, mix to combine. Add in the almond meal and give it a good mix.

Allow the tart to cool slightly before filling it.

Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth out with a spatula. Don’t worry about being too precise, the filling with smooth out perfectly whilst in the oven.

plumThinly slice your plums and arrange them as you please. I slotted mine in at a slight angle so that some of the flesh was showing, giving the tart a little pop of colour and allowing the sugars in the plums to be exposed to more heat so that they’d caramelise slightly.

abovePop this back in the oven for 30 minutes so that you’re whipping it out of the oven just as your guests arrive. Allow the tart to cool before serving.

(I also used the baking time to throw on a face of makeup and attempt to tame my hair!)