The ancient Romans were well aware of the binding properties of eggs and were experts at making omelettes and crustades using both sweet and savoury recipes. The traditional custard tart has a history in Britain that goes back to medieval times when they were known as doucets. They were frequently served in the court of Henry I, and though in those days they may sometimes have contained minced beef or pork, they always contained a fluffy sweet custard, usually made with almond milk rather than cow's milk. Later traditional custard was superseded in the 1840s by Alfred Bird's invention of custard powder which became the modern alternative to egg thickeners. Today, custard tarts are not only popular in British cuisine but also Portuguese and Chinese.
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Things you need
- Shortcrust Pastry ingredients
- 115gr self raising flour
- 30gr lard
- 30gr butter
- 15gr sugar
- 1/2 tspn salt
- cold water
- Ingredients for custard filling
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 pint milk
- 2 tbspns sugar
- mixing bowl
- rolling pin
- 15 cm (7 inch) sandwich cake tin
- palate knife
- rolling pin
To make the pastry mix the flour and salt in the bowl and rub in the lard and butter until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar and use a palate knife to mix into a stiff dough by adding a little water at a time as needed.
Roll out the dough thinly until it is large enough to line the cake tin. Grease the cake tin and gently line it with the pastry. Prick the pastry lightly with a fork on the surface, do not prick all the way through.
Partly bake the pastry in the oven at 190 degrees C (375 F) for about 15 minutes. While it's baking prepare the filling.
Whisk the eggs until they are light and frothy.
Slowly bring the milk and sugar to the boil in a saucepan then pour onto the egg and stir in.
Fill the pastry shell with the custard mixture and sprinkle a little nutmeg on the surface. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees C (375 F) for another 15 minutes to set.
Tips and warnings
- If you want to make individual tartlets instead of one large one, you can use the same ingredients but cut the pastry into rounds with a cookie cutter to line a greased tartlet tin. Half fill each of them with the custard filling and sprinkle a little nutmeg on top of each one. Bake in the oven at 220 degrees C (425 F) for 15-20 minutes. The tartlet pastry does not need pre-baking.