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: