Sunday, 3 March 2013

Creme Brulee tart

I come from a family whose passion for custard knows no bounds.  I married a man whose passion for custard frankly makes me think we were just playing at it.  Mr CC’s ‘dairy stomach’ is the stuff of legends and can be called into play after any huge meal meaning that dessert can be enjoyed.  In truth, I envy it!

When I found this recipe for crème brulee tart I knew it was a winner.  If there is crème brulee on a dessert menu Mr CC never reads beyond it.  Therefore, I knew I couldn’t waste his time and make only one tart that he’d have to share with my family...I made two meaning that he has enough to see him through the next few days!

There is nothing intrinsically tricky in this recipe but what it needs is time, and that might not be apparent from a quick scan of the recipe.  The pastry has to be chilled twice (total of 1 hour fridge time), the custard has to be left to cool (30 mins), the tart bakes at a low temperature (at least an hour), and the baked tart has to cool before you can brulee it (yet another hour).  Don’t make this one if you are pushed for time!

Also, the pastry is incredibly short.  I consider myself pretty experienced in the ways of shortcrust pastry but found this a tricky one to roll and handle.  However, it does patch and I don’t want to put you off it because it is yummy with its inclusion of custard powder.  Don’t do what I did and chill it for an hour and then watch it turn into crumbs when you start rolling it out – 30 minutes is plenty! 

Here’s the tart fresh from the oven, pre brulee:

I prefer a thin brulee topping as I don’t like my teeth getting gunged up with a thick layer of sugar.  I like a brulee that needs a sharp tap to get in, but then eats nicely adding a little crunch without dominating the custard.  If you like a thick brulee then simply increase the amount of sugar you sprinkle over the top of the tart.

I struggle with getting a nice even brulee topping – my grill isn’t powerful or even enough in its heat, and my blow torch started to die part way through.  What I’m trying to say is...the topping tasted better than perhaps it looks!


For the pastry:
225g plain flour
2 tablespoons custard powder
125g unsalted butter – cold
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water – you may need more
An extra egg yolk for patching – if needed

For the filling:
5 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
450ml whipping cream
80ml milk

For the topping:
2 tablespoons caster sugar


Start by making the pastry: put the flour, custard powder and butter into a food processor and blitz until you have bread crumbs.

Add the egg yolk and blitz again and add enough water until the pastry forms clumpy crumbs. (NB. You could make the pastry by hand using the rubbing in method i.e. rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the custard powder, egg and water).

Tip the pastry out onto a sheet of clingfilm and handle as little as possible to form a fat disc.

Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate.  Normally I’d say chill for an hour but this is a very short pastry and would be unworkably crumbly.  Chill for 30 minutes only.

Roll out the chilled pastry between two sheets of clingfilm – this saves having to add any flour.

Use the pastry to line a 24cm loose bottomed flan tin.  No need to grease the tin as the pastry is buttery enough not to stick.

Don’t panic if you need to patch the dough – it is very short and will crumble, but it does patch and there’s enough spare pastry to do this.

Pop the pastry back in the fridge for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Line the pastry case with either non-stick foil or baking paper and use baking beans to weigh the pastry down i.e. so it won’t rise.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden.

NB. If at this point you notice cracks or holes in your pastry it is important to deal with them otherwise the custard will fall straight through.  I painted on whisked egg yolk to close up any tiny cracks and put the pastry back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.  It did the job!

While the pastry case is cooling, make the filling: In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they are pale and thick.

Meanwhile, slice open a vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds.  Put the pod and seeds into a saucepan and pour over the cream and milk.

Warm the cream and milk over a gentle heat until approaching boiling point.

Remove the vanilla pod.

Pour over the whisked egg yolks and continue to whisk to ensure the egg doesn’t scramble.
Pour through a sieve into a jug or pan and leave to cool a little.

Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan oven 130°C/300°F/gas mark 2.

Pour the cooled custard into the pastry case and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the custard is set.  You can tell if you gently shake the baking sheet and the custard has only a faint wobble.  Mine took just over the hour.

Leave to cool completely.

Now make the topping:  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the tart.

There are two options for creating the brulee topping:
  • You can put your grill to the highest setting and pop the tart under it for 2 minutes or until the sugar has melted and turned brown.  It might be sensible to cover the edges of the pastry with a collar of foil to stop it burning.  If the sugar hasn’t melted completely sprinkle some water on top and pop it back under the grill.
  • You can use a blow torch – this is what I did.  I prefer this method as my grill never seems to get hot enough to melt sugar, and I feel more in control holding the torch!

Leave to cool before putting in the fridge.  It will need to go back into the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving as the heat from the brulee-ing process will soften the custard.  If you want to cut nice clean slices it needs to re-set.  I made and bruleed my tart the day before serving and that was too far in advance and the brulee lost some of its be warned!

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Victory Rolls & Mixing Bowls said...

I'm not sure how I feel about creme brulee...I don't like custard (I know!!) but I love how pretty it is and now I want to make a tart!

Nom! x

Caroline said...

Mmm, custard, I'm totally with you on that! Looks like a delicious tart and surely if your blow torch decided to die half way through that means an excuse for a trip to a shiny (kitchen) shop...

Gloria Baker said...

I adore cream brulée so this id perfect for me LOL
look delicious!

Kit @ i-lostinausten said...

Wow! This creme brulee tarts look inviting & you've even made two. I bet Mr CC was very happy that he doesn't have to share the 2snd tart with anyone! LOL I've never tried creme brulee in tart before but it looks more gourmet on a tart I must say! Well done !

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Wow, this looks so good. Mike and I both love creme brulee so I can see this being one of must must-bake-soon recipes! :) x

Unknown said...

My Husband would LOVE this (me too!)Shortcrust pastry kills me - it makes my stress levels go through the roof - I so know that too long in the fridge so it crumbles when you try and roll it feeling... Still, for this I'll give it a go. I got a blowtorch for Christmas and haven't yet used it...

Blue Shed Thinking said...

Love creme brulee, but pathetic grill and no chef's blowtorch.

Have wondered about using my garden gas flame weeder, but that would be overkill.

Katie said...

Wow that looks sensational! How I wish I had a slice now!

I agree with you that a thin layer of brulee is all you need, this looks perfect

Debs Dust Bunny said...

What a clever combination! I have never tried to make a creme brulee. I don't have the blow torch and I don't think I've had the grill on but once. It's time to address this omission. Lovely recipe! Thanks!

Amy said...

Oh..I love creme brulee and never had it in tart form. What a gorgeous tart. I love my sugar thin and crunchy too. :)

I have a question though, I usually torch my brulee right before serving. Because I notice the crunchy sugar will get soggy/watery overnight. Does that happen to your tart? Because I know my family won't be able to finish the whole tart in one sitting. Just wonder if the crust would stay crunchy the next day. Thanks!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Amy

You're right - you do lose the brulee crispness the further in advance you do it. I did it the day before and while it was mostly crisp, some bits had gone softer.
But - don't do it right before serving - pop it in the fridge for 30 mins, as the heat of the blow torch softens the top layer of custard

Happy baking

Ulla said...

This looks so yummy. I think I'll give it a go and use my blow torch I got for Xmas. I'm looking forward what shall you make of all those egg whites...

Lucy said...

I love creme brulee - combining it with pastry can only be a good thing! This sounds delicious, and would give me more practice using a blowtorch which I'm always a bit nervous of.

Maggie said...

My hubby would love creme brulee tart - because he is an avid custard fan (as in Bird's).

Xinmei @ Pudding Pie Lane said...

Looks delicious :) I just wanted to ask, what would you recommend when making a brulee topping - blow torch or grill?

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Xinmei

If you have a good, reliable grill I'd use that (but cover the pastry with foil). I haven't so used a blow torch

Happy baking

Louise at Cake and Calico said...

I'm with you all the way on the custard fetish. Can't beat it!

Choclette said...

Now custard powder in pastry is a truly inspired idea. Creme Brulee is one of my favourites too - very lucky Mr CC I say.

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Cakelaw said...

I am a fan of anything custard too. I have long meant to make your custard tart and haven't got there yet.