This tart ticks all the boxes as it’s really a vanilla-heavy version of a custard tart. Pastry always has a classy elegance to it and when it’s made with icing sugar and an egg yolk, is incredibly soft and smooth. I admit this is not a cake – I don’t want you to think that I have abandoned cakes - it’s served in the same way that you would serve a cake so I think I’m allowed to admire it. This tart is beautiful with a cup of tea or as a dessert. I have made it as one large tart but it would be lovely as smaller, individual tarts:
The smell of the tart baking drove me half out of my mind – delicious vanilla and cream and buttery pastry. I almost attacked it with a fork as soon as it came out of the oven! It’s like a slice of sunshine – both the pastry and filling are golden and bright:
This isn’t one to make when you’re pushed for time as there are several stages to the process. However, don’t confuse that with it being complicated – if you glance at the ‘how to make’ section you’ll see that there’s nothing difficult or fiddly to it at all.
I love rolling out pastry. I think pastry is a bit like small children and animals – if it smells fear in you it will give you a hard time; handle it confidently and it will be easy as pie! Of course it helps if you have the largest rolling pin in the world to tame it with – this was an awesome Christmas present from my equally awesome nephew. To give you a sense of scale, that is a LARGE egg next to it:
How exciting a sight is this? Answer – very! This is the vanilla pods helping the cream to become something even more delicious; you can already see the vanilla seeds dispersing. I am very pleased at how clean my hob looks!:
For the pastry
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, diced
25g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
For the tart filling
568ml double cream
2 vanilla pods
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (i.e. in total 4 egg yolks and 3 egg whites)
75g caster sugar
How to make:
- Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you get the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the icing sugar then add the egg yolk.
- Gradually work in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water until the dough comes together and is soft and smooth. Add the water one tablespoon at a time as you probably won’t need all three. If you add too much water and the dough becomes sticky, sprinkle in an extra pinch of flour.
- Make the pastry into a ball. Place it on a sheet of clingfilm and then press it down so it becomes discus-shaped – I find this makes it much easier to roll out as the pastry doesn’t crack around the edges as much. Then wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking/greaseproof paper. This means you don’t need to flour the board and I love this method as you’re not introducing more flour to the pastry and unbalancing the mix. Clingfilm works too.
- Roll the pastry out to line a 25cm tart tin. The tin needs to be at least 2.5cm deep to hold all the filling.
- Prick the pastry base with a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes. This helps to limit the pastry shrinkage on baking.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/Gas mark 6.
- Line the pastry with baking/greaseproof paper and baking beans and blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 8-10 minutes until the pastry is a light golden colour. Leave to cool.
- Lower the oven temperature to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/Gas mark 2.
- Pour the cream into the saucepan and add the vanilla pods (cut the pods in half lengthways first to allow the seeds to mingle with the cream).
- Bring slowly to the boil then leave to cool – this is when the vanilla will really infuse the cream and the smell in the kitchen is lovely!
- Beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar. Add the vanilla cream mix – pour it through a sieve to ensure you thoroughly remove the vanilla pod.
- At this point, I added a dash of vanilla extract – this is optional.
- Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the custard mix is very softly set. Mine took about 45 minutes. The custard continues to firm as it cools so don’t over bake it.
- Remove from the oven and cool in tin.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.