Today I learnt many things.
- Wine bottles do not make great rolling pins;
- Nigella’s pastry, while fabulous, quick and easy, will not be patched. Roll it perfectly the first time or start again;
- Pastry shrinks, make neat edges after you blind bake it;
- Nigella is hot, and her blind baking is hotter … to hot for me I’m afraid;
- Sweet pastry burns easily;
- Even the smallest hole in your pastry matters, though I’ve not idea how to fix holes other than starting from scratch;
- Sweet pastry can be eaten raw;
- Custard tarts are worth making over and over again until you get them right.
It sounds dire, but really there were only two attempts. There will be another attempt to perfect the custard tart, but this one turned out edible and almost presentable. Some trick photography covers up the effect of having a hole in my pastry, which let the custard mixture seep out to create a second custardy case in the gap between the flan tin and the crust. I haven’t attempted to extract it from the tin yet. This may be my undoing.
120g flour (00)
30g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbspn iced water
Measure and sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl and cut the butter into cubes on top. Place the whole lot in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Mix the egg, vanilla and iced water together and put in the fridge.
After 10 mins put the flour mixture into your food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Add the liquid and blitz until the mixture almost forms a ball – it gets kinda lumpy looking. You may need to add more iced water, but do so a tinsy little drop at a time.
Scoop out the dough, push it into a disk and cover with clingwrap and bung in the fridge for 20 minutes, or longer. Then roll it out and line your flan dish (23cm thin or 20cm deep dish). Don’t trim the excess off until after you’ve done the blind baking – it shrinks too much.
For a custard tart you need to blind bake your case, so cover it in baking paper and pour over some rice or ceramic beads or something. Nigella blind bakes at 200 degrees for 15 mins, then covers the edges with tinfoil and blasts it for another 10 mins. I got crisps on my first go at her temperatures, so I did the second attempt at 160 degrees, which is the temperature you’ll bake the custard at anyway.
So, bake with paper and rice for 15 minutes then pull out the rice, brush the case with the left over egg white (this helps seal it), cover the edges with foil and bung it back in for andother 10 – 15 minutes until the base is nicely browned. Let this cool slightly before you add your custard mix.
1 egg yolk
2 tbspns sugar
splash of vanilla essence
300ml single cream
100 ml milk
Put the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat until just about to boil. Whisk the eggs, yolk, sugar and essence together in a bowl then slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.
Pour the custard mix into your pastry case and top with grated nutmeg. Bake for 45 minutes, checking at 35 minutes. When it’s done it will be slightly wobbly still, but will set more as it cools.