Friday, 9 August 2013


I am all about the custard - usually mainlined out of the carton / tin / pan, often out of the inside of a donut (if it's from St John) - and occasionally in tart format.  One of the lushest posh things I ate last year was this perfect (too) little custard tart from Dabbous.
Normally I grow impatient when flowers try to come between me and my food, e.g. what are you doing on top of this pretentious yet delicious avocado salad at Craft?  Like, I know you're pretty and everything, but you're so not invited.
Still, the Dabbous custard tart could have been crowned with a bunch of petrol station carnations - it would still have been a triumph.

So yesterday I decided to devote my day to making a custard tart - a traditional, non floral one, I hasten to add.  I used this recipe from the world's greatest baker, Justin Piers Gellatly

Two important things I was aiming for, both of which I failed to pull off: perfectly thin, delicate pastry, and perfectly wobbly custard filling.  Don't get me wrong - the tart was delicious and brilliant and even though it served 12, and 6 of us polished it off, I have learned from my mistakes.
The first hurdle I stumbled into and bruised my shin on was the pastry.  I am inept and impatient and unskilled at pastry, so when trying to roll out a supremely buttery dough into 3mm thickness, I ended up with a sometimes thin, sometimes thick pastry that I sort of grafted together like Dr Nick on the Simpsons would do if he was a plastic surgeon.  Not pretty; still passable.
The baking went fine.
On the recipe's advice I let it cook for longer than I felt comfortable with, till it went to a 'French brown' colour.
As soon as the pastry's done, you seal it with an egg yolk, at which point I freaked out - as the egg yolk immediately cooked on the hot pastry - OBVS - which is fine, except it looks not fine.  But it is fine, so forget I even mentioned it...
Then on to the luscious filling: vanilla, vanilla, vanilla.
And cream and sugar and many, many egg yolks...

A word on nutmeg: I hate nutmeg.  I don't want it in my lasagne.  I don't want it near my dauphinoise.  I definitely don't want it near custard - however, it is THE LAW.  But because I hate it it, I don't know how to interact with it - so I checked with the internet - which said 'grate it whole.'  Yeah, well thanks internet, for not telling me to take the tough shell off first.  Anyway, this is how one learns - from eating grated hard outer shells of nutmeg.
Anyway, the key to the perfect texture of the tart is to remove this beauty while it still retains a small wobble in the middle.   The recipe calls for an hour at gas mark 1/2...  I decided that this hour would be the perfect time to commence watching Season 1, episode 1 of Game of Thrones.  So yes, I'm stupid because I don't know about nutmeg.   But I'm seriously stupid for starting to watch THE AWESOMEST FURRY SOAP OPERA EVER while I'm meant to be keeping a minute by minute eye on my wobble.  I blame that fit Danish actor from Headhunters for doing two very wrong things at the end of the first episode - for the fact that my tart was slightly overdone.  Bad Nikolaj Coster-Waldau!

Anyway, the tart was seriously great notwithstanding the above:
Though I am now going to have to watch all available eps of Game of Thrones before I cook anything else ever again.  Far too distracting otherwise.  

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