Monday, April 30, 2007

An English Baked Custard Tart, A Taste of Yellow

For LIVESTRONG DAY

picture photograph of British English style custard tart inspired by Marcus Wareing and Delia Smith 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/

Barbara over at Winos & Foodies is running an event called A Taste of Yellow in conjunction with:

LIVESTRONG Day, Lance Armstrong Foundation's (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues on a national level and in local communities across the country. LIVESTRONG Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, May 16.

Those of you who know Barbara, will also know that she has cancer. One day she hopes she will be able to call herself a cancer survivor. Nothing would make me happier. Earlier this year, after having my first mammogram at the age of 40 I had to have an operation to have a lump removed from my breast. Luckily for me, it turned out to be benign. Barbara has not been so lucky, but despite her own suffering, she never failed for one second to be a positive and unfailing support to me throughout my own ordeal. Even though I have never met her! Barbara sent me assurances and advice through email and via google chat. She was my guiding, golden star. To support Barabra's own efforts to raise awareness is the least I can do, especially since it gave me an excuse to make a glorious English-style Baked Custard Tart that was the best I have ever tasted.

English-style Baked Custard Tarts
From reading I have done on the internet (who knows if it is to be trusted), the English have been making custard tarts at least since Medieval times. Growing up in Britain, commercially-made individual custard tarts that looked like this, were ubiquitous in every neighbourhood bakery. I have to confess, that although I loved the eggy, nutmeg-speckled filling of these little tarts, I detested the often-soggy, pale insipid shortcrust pastry that held the custard in place.

I started doing some research, online, into custard recipes and came across this charming video of Marcus Wareing making "The Perfect Custard Tart". (Although after double-checking with a couple of experts that there wasn't some new-fangled idea I wasn't aware of, I believe that putting pie weights inside the shell in a plastic bag would probably not be the smartest move. Correct us if we are wrong.) Apparently - Wareing's tart recipe won the BBC's The Great British Menu dessert and was served at the Queen’s 80th birthday lunch. If its good enough for her Majesty, then it is good enough for me! (Although Wareing does note in this interview, that "I don’t want to be remembered for a custard tart when I’m gone!")

Although he tendered the intial inspiration, I didn't actually use Wareing's recipe to make my fabulous tart. I had some pate sucree, rich pastry containing almonds, eggs and sugar, in my freezer (from my favourite Pierre Herme recipe in The Cooks Book) and I used that for the shell. I baked it blind for 10 minutes before removing the beans, brushing it with beaten egg and then baking another 10 minutes to form a glaze that word deter the custard from leaking through the dough. I use pate sucree all the time when it is not called for. Why? Because I love it the most. Who cares if you are meant to use soggy shortcrust for Bakewells and Custard tarts? I don't like shortcrust nearly so much, so I am going for the decadent pate sucree every time instead, so there.

Once the shell was ready, I followed good old Delia's instructions for the filling. After 30 minutes in the oven I had a fine specimen of wobbly, nutmeg-dredged, custard tart that I could hardly wait to cool down and try. I don't know if you have ever had an English-style baked custard tart and I am not sure if you would like it. It's not too sweet, it's extremely eggy (like a quiche, almost) and the nutmeg isn't exactly subtle. It's rustic, wholesome and it has substance, which is how I happen to like desserts. Maybe it doesn't look that pretty or fine, but the real pleasure is delivered at the moment you don't really care what it looks like any more. Mmmmm...

picture photograph of yellow foods collage for a livestrong taste of yellow event 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/
More Yellow Foods From The Becks & Posh Archives

Update May 1st
A few hours after I published the above post I had a telephone call from England with some very bad news. My childhood best friend, the free-spirited, unconventional Sheena to whom I was practically glued to as a teen has just found out she has got cancer. It has taken several months of her being fobbed off by the NHS about what has been making her so ill before finding out this terrible news. She has to wait a little longer for more details, but in the meantime I would appreciate anyone who can send her some positive thoughts to Wales, where she lives. Thank you. Below is the only photgraph I could find of us together. It was Christmas 1986 so please forgive us our fashion faux pas. Plus you have to understand, we were two little hippies back then...

picture photograph sam and sheena circa 1986 2007 copyright of sam breach and christine burridge http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/




Local Resources
Golden Yellow Eggs | Marin Sun Farms down to $7 a dozen
Organic Cream | Clover

Other Resources & Further Reading
Wikepdia | Custard Tarts
Baking for Britain | Custard Tarts

Archives
2006 | "The Best Thing You Ever Did"
2005 | "It's Like a Starter You Could Have in a Fanncy Restaurant"


© 2007 Sam Breach at "Becks & Posh", becksposhnosh.blogspot.com This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at might be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact becks.posh.food.blog[AT]gmail[DOT]com to report any suspected violations. Thank you.
An English Baked Custard Tart, A Taste of Yellow

27 Comments:

  • At 30/4/07 08:42, Blogger Beccy said…

    Look good but not my cup of tea!

     
  • At 30/4/07 09:19, Anonymous pining said…

    I actually tried Marcus Wareing's recipe (twice!) and I though it was gobsmockingly good (my family loved it too).
    might try your method... :-)

     
  • At 30/4/07 11:27, Blogger Barbara said…

    Sam thanks for your support of A Taste Of Yellow. I love a good custard tart. Pate sucree sounds like a brilliant change to the original shortcrust.

     
  • At 30/4/07 13:51, Anonymous Eric said…

    Sam, what a great post! These tarts look delicious. And thank you so much for introducing me to Barbara's blog, which I hadn't seen before. Having gone through chemo and radiation myself for all of last year, it certainly is very difficult and trying experience, so it's amazing she can maintain her blog like that in spite of it all. I look forward to reading more of it, so thank you again :)

     
  • At 30/4/07 14:54, Blogger ChrisB said…

    Sam that looks good it was always a favourite of my granny she used to make them for my dad.

     
  • At 1/5/07 06:37, Blogger Homesick Texan said…

    Thank you for sharing Barbara's story and event. She sounds amazing! And what a beautiful tart!

     
  • At 1/5/07 09:29, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Oh man...I hope your friend gets better!

     
  • At 1/5/07 09:38, Anonymous Eric said…

    Sam, I just read your update. So sorry to hear about your friend. I will be sending positive thoughts in the northeasterly direction of Wales, and wishing her the strength of heart she will need to get through this.

     
  • At 1/5/07 12:02, Blogger catalyst0527 said…

    The last picture is very impressive to me.
    I hope your friend getting well soon.

     
  • At 1/5/07 12:40, Blogger Chubbypanda said…

    *hug* Good thoughts being sent.

     
  • At 1/5/07 15:48, Blogger Little Foodie said…

    Not sure words help. I hope your friend gets the right treatment and quickly. Cancer is a hateful word, one which unforunately touches far too many of us in some way or another. All we can do is remember that until a cure is found we have to continue to raise awareness and where possible funds. That's why Barbara's idea was such a good one. Hope your friend is okay. Amanda

     
  • At 1/5/07 16:16, Blogger Stephanie said…

    Consider hugs and puppy kisses on their way from Tennessee...

     
  • At 1/5/07 20:13, Blogger Barbara said…

    Lots of positive thoughts coming from me too Sam. I know she will gain strength from your support at this awful time.

     
  • At 2/5/07 14:49, Blogger Clare said…

    Sending positive thoughts to your friend. ****GOOD VIBES***. :)

     
  • At 3/5/07 05:44, Blogger Gemma said…

    Your custard tart looks delicious, I am pretty ambivalent about shortcrust pastry so your option sounds perfect.

    My best wishes are with your friend.

     
  • At 3/5/07 07:22, Blogger thepassionatecook said…

    really sorry to hear about your friend - what devastating news. i know what you must be feeling - and you're probably asking why, why, why.
    it's not easy to be so helpless, i hate situations where you cannot effect anything positive, no matter how much you want to or how hard you try.
    i hope she'll have some more positive news soon... the waiting is the worst part, i guess.
    my thoughts are with her and with you!

     
  • At 3/5/07 12:22, Blogger barbie2be said…

    if i didn't know better, i could almost swear that was me on the right in that picture. that's weird.

     
  • At 3/5/07 19:10, Anonymous bea said…

    So sorry to hear the news Sam. I am sending all my positive energy her way.

     
  • At 4/5/07 09:30, Blogger Caroline said…

    You both are georgous. I grew up in Cardiff and Gloucestershire and I'm 42, so I have some pics with me looking exactly like you two...adorable. Please, please, send my best thoughts to your friend. Love you, love your blog...and good thoughts to all. Now living in San Diego, ex SF.

     
  • At 4/5/07 19:19, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks to everyone for all the good vibes you are sending to Sheena. Caroline - Sheena lives in Wales so the comarsion is even stronger.
    We are keeping our fingers crossed for her.

     
  • At 5/5/07 12:27, Anonymous David said…

    Although it's hard to think positive thoughts looking at you with what appears to be military-issue shoulder pads, teased-up hair and perhaps leg warmers (I'm sure they're down there...aren't they!)

    I wish your friend the very best. She's lucky to have a friend like you...although I hope you got her permission to put that Solid Gold Dancer-like picture on your site!

     
  • At 7/5/07 07:51, Blogger Sarah said…

    I tried Marcus' recipe about three times and every time the pastry slid down the sides in a stodgy mess. I'm wondering whether it was the tin I used. I ended up making it in a shallow tart tin which eventually worked and it did taste good but was quite thin. I might try your recipe instead.

     
  • At 16/5/07 12:38, Blogger Chris said…

    I am a new visitor to your blog - I love it, and your tart! This is a wonderful post and lovely tribute to Barbara. I am sorry to learn of your friend's diagnosis. Your friendship is/will be a comforting thing for her.

     
  • At 16/5/07 15:00, Blogger Arfi Binsted said…

    Sam, that's terrific tart! My sympathy to your friend. I am glad I have got rid of the cancer I got before, and really really am hoping it won't come back.

     
  • At 19/5/07 23:42, Anonymous fanny said…

    Hi Sam,
    that custard tart looks delicious.
    Love
    - fanny

     
  • At 12/6/09 13:05, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,
    My name is Jo and I live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Just found your blog when I was looking for an English Custard tart recipe. Then I noticed your note about Sheena. I'm so very sorry. How is she doing, though I know its June 2009 thought I would ask?

     
  • At 16/6/09 08:18, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi Jo

    Thanks for asking. Sadly she died just over a year and a half ago. I did get to go and see her one last time which gave me some comfort.

     

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