My brother has always loved pastries so when his birthday rolled around a couple of weeks ago, it really was kinda a no brainer what I was gonna make him. Especially since he single handedly polished off half of this tart.
But in an effort to make something everyone (i.e the boyfriend who isn’t a big fan of cheese) could enjoy, I figured I would make a tart that didn’t involve mascarpone cheese in spite of my love of aforementioned strawberries mascarpone tart.
And I knew no better person that I could turn to for a tart that would be no less delicious than Maida Heatter.
I have to admit that making the tart itself was thankfully so much easier than picking just one recipe from her pies and tarts book (butterscotch pie, frozen peanut butter pie, salted almond chocolate pie; how does anyone choose among such deliciousness?) to make.
I made the pastry the night before and left the tart shell in the freezer overnight so all that was left to do the next day was to whisk the custard together, blind bake the tart shell and then bake the filled tart. It really doesn’t get any simpler than that.
And the tart (and Maida, naturally) truly didn’t disappoint.
A light, buttery crust with a smooth custard filling, this tart was such a delicious way to enjoy and showcase the berries from the glorious semi-annual berries influx we get this part of the world- and so refreshingly different from the chocolate cakes we gorge ourselves silly every birthday celebration.
So with that, I think I might have gotten myself back on track with the tart making I had set out to do some time this year. And I certainly won’t be needing another birthday to come round to dust off those oft-neglected tart pans.
Mixed Berries Custard Tart [adapted from Maida Heatter’s Pies & Tarts]Note: This tart really was a breeze to make, from the tart dough right down to the custard filling (no thickening over the stove needed!). To make it even easier though, you could, as the original recipe instructs, bake a punnet of blueberries into the custard tart so you don’t have to bother macerating and layering the berries. However you choose to make this tart though, I suggest baking the tart till the middle is just a little jiggly and letting it firm up completely in the fridge; I baked the tart till it was fully set as instructed by the recipe and found that it had a very slight eggy taste to it. Oh, just one last thing – whatever you do, please don’t skip macerating those berries; it truly makes all the difference in the world!
1 3/4 cup unsifted plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cold egg
1 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 pints of strawberries, hulls removed and halved
A handful of blueberries
2 tbsp caster sugar
- To make pastry Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until combined. Add the cold butter and blitz for a couple of seconds at a time until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Beat the egg and cold water together in a small bowl. Add them gradually through the feed tube, blitzing till the mixture just comes together.
- Turn the mixture out onto the countertop. Using your fingertips, work the dough together gently till a smooth dough forms. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin till it forms a circle about 30cm (or 12-inch).
- Transfer the dough into a 25cm (or 10-inch) tart pan and press it down lightly into the base and up the sides of the pan. Using a fork, prick the base of the tart dough all over. Refrigerate the tart shell for an hour before baking.
- Heat the oven at 200C. Cover the base of the tart shell with baking paper and fill it with dried beans. Bake the tart shell in the centre of the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove the tart shell from the oven, gently remove the baking paper and dried beans. Bake the tart shell for another ten minutes until it’s dry to the touch and light golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven, turn down the temperature to 160C and let the tart shell cool slightly.
- To make custard Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, whisking until combined, before adding the vanilla, cream and milk. Pour the custard into the baked tart shell.
- Bake the tart in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly in the centre. Let the tart cool completely before refrigerating at least an hour.
- To make macerated berries Toss the berries and caster sugar together in a bowl and let sit for at least half an hour.
- To assemble Arrange the macerated berries on the tart and spoon some of the berry juices over the berries. Serves 12