While I’m working my day job Alan frequently sends me snaps of what he’s up to in the kitchen. Whether that be pictures of his lunch, or what hes testing for the blog. Last week I received a many pictures of Custard Tarts. I felt like immediately getting in the car and driving home for taste testing.
These are delicious. And they are such a treat! It’s not like I can just pop down to the local french patisserie. (Damn lactose intolerence!) But now I know he can make them, guess what’s getting added to the “frequently requested” list!
One of the other reasons I love Custard Tarts so much is because of the personal connection I have with them. They remind me of our trip to France. We hadn’t been married long, we had not long purchased a house but we had an amazing opportunity to spend a month in Europe that we simply couldn’t turn down. We spent two glorious weeks exploring the south of France from a little village called Sarlat. It was my first overseas experience (bar Australia) and it was simply amazing. We drank espresso and ate tarts and soaked up the atmosphere.
These little bundles of fruit, pastry and custard take me back to the french countryside. Mmmm…. Tarts…
I’m going to hand you over to Alan before I start waxing poetic about my love of France :p he’s going to highlight a few simple tips to make your tart making experience a little more …. fruitful…
Top tips – Custard Tarts with seasonal fruit
Use only the best seasonal fruit: Sounds obvious, but the fact is that the fruit makes or breaks a fruit tart. We made several tarts while working on this recipe, and if the fruit wasn’t the best we could find, the tart was honestly pretty rubbish. If you can’t get that perfect punnet of fresh delicious strawberries, popping with flavour in every bite – don’t buy them.
Decorate the tart just before serving: The fruit will be at its absolute best freshly cut, and at room temperature. Make the pastry crust and the custard the night or day before, but don’t decorate it with fruit until just before serving. It begins to degrade as soon as you cut into it, and looks worse and worse the further away you separate the finishing of the tart with eating it. (putting it in the fridge, the logical place to store a custard tart, will only exacerbate this issue)
It also only takes a few minutes to cut up a few strawberries, or wash some grapes or berries. You could use a glaze to protect the fruit (like they do in your local bakery) but honestly if you’re making it for the family or to impress guests, then there isn’t any need for the additional step – it’s not like you’re going to have leftovers!
Put some thought into the decoration: Think about how you will cut into the tart before you start decorating. It may seem pedantic but a bit of forethought goes a long way. You’re trying to impress your new friends with this beautiful hand made custard tart, but as soon as you put the knife in it all goes to custard (sorry) because the fruit is firmer than the custard its sitting on. Cut and place the fruit in such a way that cutting to serve isn’t a pain in the arse. (In hindsight the kiwifruit in the photos above shouldn’t have overlapped for this reason)
- 240 g plain flour
- 180 g dairy free spread, chilled (we use olive oil based)*
- Pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolk
- 50 g icing sugar
- 1 TBS cold water
- Dairy-free custard x2, with the following additions - 30 g more cornstarch, 1 more egg yolk. (For a total of 50g and 5 eggs respectively)
- 50 g coconut cream
- 50 g 70% cocoa dairy-free chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
- 2 g salt
- 300-500 g Seasonal fruit
- For best results, chill everything prior to use (including food processor blade).
- Combine the flour, fat and salt in your food processor or large bowl. Process or work through with cold hands until you achieve a fine sand-like texture. Stop as soon as you reach this stage.
- Combine the other ingredients in a new bowl and mix to combine - then pour over the sandy mix. Pulse or fold in with a spatula until well combined - but no more. The less you work the pastry, and the colder it stays, the better the results.
- Shape into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
- Remove the pastry after an hour, and role out to a thickness of 2-3 mm. This is best done between two pieces of nonstick baking paper - as the pastry will still be quite soft despite the time in the fridge.
- Remove one layer of paper, and lay the pastry over a non-stick tart case (ideally with removable bottom). Take your time to fix any cracks, fill in any holes etc, and press the pastry into all the edges. Prick all over the bottom of the pastry with a fork, then place the tart case in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to chill. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F) during this time.
- Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes, remove from oven and remove blind baking materials. Return uncovered to oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack entirely before adding the filling.
- Make the ganache by heating the coconut cream in a pot until simmering, removing from the heat and stirring in the chocolate and salt. Return to the heat for a second or two to remove any lumps if necessary.
- Brush onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart case, ensuring a thin even layer of 1-2 mm. Transfer to the fridge to set while you make the custard.
- Make the custard (it should be very thick) and pour over the chocolate and gently smooth into an even layer. This can be (carefully) done while the custard is still hot. Place in the fridge to set for at least four hours, ideally overnight.
- Wash, dry and slice your fruit, then gently place on the custard in a pattern of your own choosing.
- Serve immediately
On the fruit - very unspecific sorry but you're best off using whatever is in season and tasting good. Berries are a sure win, we also use kiwifruit and oranges.
Everything up until decorating with fruit can be done a day ahead, so that it only takes 15 minutes to bring together when you come to eat.
The chocolate serves two purposes. Firstly - it's chocolate. Secondly, it creates a barrier between the custard and pastry that keeps the latter dry and crisp.
For a far less labour intensive version, use a store bought tart case - assuming you can get one that is dairy free. Of course making your own will almost always yield the best results.
Have a question about this or another recipe, or want to make a dairy-free recipe request? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or let us know in the comments below!