I’ve made this tart a few times now and featured it on my site twice but have always pretty much followed the recipe (except for changing the pastry to my own trusty shortcrust which I found easier to work with). This time, I felt ready to put my own stamp on it and decided to add lashings of vanilla.
There is something magical about this tart. It looks and tastes unfussy and clean. Unusually for a cold tart it’s comforting, which is something I normally associate with hot food. It’s also the answer I always get when I ask my family “is there anything you’d like me to make at the weekend?”
I can’t stress enough how important sieving the custard is. If you want that luscious creamy suck-through-your-teeth-smooth texture you have to sieve the custard; if you’re making a vanilla tart you have to sieve twice.
This recipe isn’t difficult but it requires concentration. It’s definitely not a bung-it-in-the-oven-within-5-minutes item.
I’ve set out the full recipe below. If you wish to make the classic custard tart the ingredients and method are the same but simply omit all the vanilla.
If you are planning on making the recipe you might want to have a glance at the first and second posts about the tart as they contain some step by step photos that will help you better visualise what I’m wittering on about in the method!
For people who may wonder what I (and family) get up to on Sunday afternoons, the following pictures explain it all fairly succinctly.....
For the shortcrust pastry:
175g plain flour
120g unsalted butter, cold
3 tablespoons icing sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
To glaze: 2 egg yolks, beaten
For the filling:
9 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
500ml whipping cream
2 vanilla pods, cut in half lengthways and the seeds scraped out
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Nutmeg, for grating
How to make:
- Start by making the pastry: put the flour, butter and icing sugar into the food processor and blitz until you get fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla and blitz until the pastry just starts to come together.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together into a ball of dough, handling no more than is absolutely necessary.
- As this dough is very soft and it is going to line quite a deep flan ring, wrap in clingfilm and chill the dough for 30 minutes so it is firmer to work with when you roll it out.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper. Grease a 18cm pastry ring or loose bottom flan tin and stand it on the tray. Whatever ring or tin you use, try to find a deep one (ideally 3.5cm) as this will give a lovely deep tart and a luscious thick layer of baked custard.
- Roll out the pastry between two sheets of lightly floured baking paper and use to line the flan ring. Don’t worry if you have some tears, the pastry is good-natured and patches easily.
- Let the pastry overhang the edges. Take some of the surplus pastry off and put to one side – you may need this for patching later on.
- Chill the pastry for a further 30 minutes once the tin is lined to minimise shrinkage when baked.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.
- Line the chilled pastry with a sheet of baking paper and cover with baking beans.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Beat the two egg yolks and when the 10 minutes is up, remove the pastry from the oven and remove the paper and beads. Have a look at the pastry and use the spare that you put to one side to patch any little holes or cracks that you can see. When happy, brush all of the egg yolk over the interior of the pastry case and return to the oven for 5 minutes. This seals the pastry so that it won’t go soggy when you add the custard.
- Remove the pastry from the oven and leave to cool. When it is cool enough to handle trim the excess pastry away using a serrated knife. Leave the pastry in the ring/tin. I wrapped the tin in foil so that if there were any leaks the custard wouldn’t escape too far!
- Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/Gas mark 2.
- From now on it’s all easy! Make the custard by whisking together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cream and vanilla extract and whisk again.
- Pour through a sieve into a heavy saucepan. Don’t skip this stage as there’s lots of eggy bits that will get caught by the sieve and would make the custard lumpy in texture if not removed.
- Add the vanilla pods and seeds to the mixture.
- Heat the custard over a low heat stirring all the time. When it gets to 37°C remove it from the heat.
- Pouring through a sieve, pour as much of the custard into the pastry case as possible. I got all of mine in but it will depend on how deep your ring/tin is. Cover the surface with grated nutmeg. If you’re not confident that you’ll get the tart into the oven without spilling the custard, put the tray (with the tart case on it) onto the oven shelf and then pour the custard in. I would’ve done this but when I pull my oven shelf out it dips slightly so I could not have got all the custard in.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the custard looks set but still wobbles slightly when the tray is moved. Mine actually took an hour to get to this stage.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.