Sunday, 31 January 2016

Yorkshire curd tart

Whenever Mr CC and I are in York there are two things I have to eat:  Firstly, a Fat Rascal from Bettys, and secondly, a Yorkshire Curd tart from Bennett’s – a lovely little café right next to York Minster.  Admittedly, the curd tart has a slight lemon tang but I’m warming towards lemon – I’m not saying we’re ever going to best friends but the animosity and hurt is over.

I’ve long wanted to make a curd tart but it’s nigh on impossible to find curd cheese unless you are blessed with a great deli, a fancy supermarket or farm shop.  Some recipes say you can substitute ricotta but – whisper it for fear of causing offence – I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like ricotta.  Neither the texture nor the blandness do anything for me in baked goods (it’s ok in savoury recipes).

This recipe, adapted from the BBC GoodFood website, starts with instructions how to make curd cheese and it’s a lot simpler than you might think.  Start with a very high fat, rich milk:

The formation of the curds in the milk is like witchcraft; I felt like I was at a cauldron making magic happen:

The most fascinating thing is that the curds suck the fat out of the milk so, as they form, the remaining liquid turns more and more watery.  Really one of the most oddly enjoyable things I’ve done for a long time!  I had no use for the whey, but apparently you can keep it and use it wherever you would use buttermilk….thinking about it, it probably is buttermilk?

The only real thing to be aware of is that you need to start it the day before to allow draining time.  A lot of draining time….I started it off in a tea towel lined colander sitting in the sink….

… and then, after several hours, stood the colander (still tea towel lined) in a bowl….

….before refrigerating it overnight.  The next morning I had this:

This tart is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like overly sweet bakes; it has a sharp zing to it from a combination of the lemon and curd cheese.  One slice will not be enough!


For the curds:
1.8 litres full fat Jersey milk – this has 5g fat per 100ml (compared to semi skimmed which has 1.8g per 100ml)
Juice of 1 ½ lemons
(NB. This made 445g curd cheese – so if you have curd cheese to hand and don’t want to make it, use this weight)

For the pastry:
210g plain flour
130g unsalted butter – cold
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
75g unsalted butter – at room temperature
75g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g currants
Grated nutmeg – allspice is more traditional, if you prefer


Start making the curds the day before you want to serve the tart: place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Add the lemon juice and turn the heat to low.
Gently stir while the curds form; if you are too firm you will break the curds.  The curds form very quickly – mine were smaller than I expected (but I had nothing to compare it to, so that probably doesn’t mean much).

Once the mixture looks watery with creamy lumps remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Drain the curds overnight in the fridge.  I lined a colander with a clean tea towel and suspended this across a bowl. I started the draining process in the sink because there was a lot of liquid and I didn’t need it for anything.

On the day of making the tart start with the pastry: place the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and blitz until you have breadcrumb sized pieces.

Add the water gradually and only what is needed to form a dough.

Tip the dough out onto a sheet of clingfilm and handle just enough to bring together.

Flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes, although the dough will happily sit in the fridge for a couple of days.

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan oven 160C/350F/gas mark 4.

Roll out the pastry and use to line a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin.  Leave the excess pastry overhanging the tin.

To make the filling beat together the butter and sugar until soft and well combined.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Stir in the curds, making sure you break up any large lumps.

Stir in the currants.

Spoon into the pastry case (note – no need to blind bake the pastry) and level the surface.

Grate some nutmeg over the top, or sprinkle over some ground allspice.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the tart feels set and the pastry is golden.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Serve in generous slices.

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



Choclette said...

I've only been to York once and I headed straight off to Betty's under strict instructions to try a curd tart. Oh boy was it good. Sadly I didn't know about fat rascals at the time. I too have made curd tarts including the curd cheese and really I should try again as they were rather good. I always keep whey, it's such useful stuff.

sensibilia said...

Wow, that is some creation! So scientific! I love Betty's, and always make it my first stop when in York for the day.
Who knew you could buy Jersey milk in Tesco's!

Cakelaw said...

Oooh, this sounds lovely, right up my alley. Good in you for making your own cheese. I love the names of traditional British bakes, and Fat Rascal is a good one.

Jean said...

I once made a curd tart from some curd cheese the formed by accident. Now I know how to do it properly so will be trying it out.

Maggie said...

I grew up eating Yorkshire Curd Tart and it is so delicious. I've never thought to make my own curd cheese we always used to buy cottage cheese and strain it to use in the filling.

Angie's Recipes said...

wow you even made curd cheese yourself!! That's just amazing. The tart look splendid.

Gloria Baker said...

Really I love this curd cheese tart look like my ricotta kuchen ! Look delicious!
I have to make that soon!!!!

Anonymous said...

No witchcraft at all in the curd, all science! The lemon juice lowers the pH of the milk so it meets the isoelectric point of the proteins, therefore they become insoluble and precipitate, and that's the curd. The kitchen is just a small lab (but so much more rewarding). Looks yummy!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Sweetkitchenscience

Love your comment - thanks. Although i panicked at the appearance of 'isoelectric'!

Happy baking

Gluten Free Alchemist said...

What a fascinating post CC. I had no idea curd cheese was so easy to make but yours looks amazing!
I had a similar feeling of satisfaction when I made butter from double cream..... the liquid left from the separation of the fat making the butter was buttermilk which I used for scones.
Having seen this, I now need to try making curd cheese...... and maybe I should make a gF version of the tart too!
Thanks for the share!

Unknown said...

A real yorkshire curd tart doesn't have lemon but rum , try it its a revelation , the recipe is in yokshire farmhouse cookbook an oldy but a goody