In honour of the Old English name of the month, Thrimilchi, it seems appropriate to post a dairy recipe for May. So here is a recipe for traditional custard tart. If you have always been terrified of trying your hand at egg custard because of fear that it will curdle and be ruined (as I was for about twenty years), don’t worry. You don’t have to go through all the palaver of beating the eggs and milk for several days over a pan of water that must never boil for this recipe – just mix them, put the tart in a moderate oven, and it will sort itself out. At least, it always has so far :-)
4 oz (approx 120 g) plain flour
1 oz (approx 25 g) butter
1 oz (approx 25 g) lard
1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) demerara sugar
0.5 pint (approx 250 ml) milk
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) dark rum (optional)
Rub the butter and lard into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Mix with a SMALL amount of cold water until it just sticks together to form a dough. If it is crumbly add a few drops more water, if it is sticky add a bit more flour.
Roll out on a floured work surface and line a 7” diameter (approx 18 cm) flan ring or flan tin.
(Or you could buy ready-made pastry or a ready made tart case if you prefer).
Beat the eggs and sugar together in a heatproof jug or bowl.
Heat the milk until it is not quite boiling. If it does come to the boil, just take it off the heat and wait for the bubbles to subside before proceeding.
Pour the hot milk slowly onto the eggs and sugar, beating continually with a wooden spoon as you add the milk.
Stir in the rum, if using.
It will probably look like slightly eggy milk at this stage and won’t have thickened noticeably. Don’t worry. Pour it into the flan case and sprinkle with grated nutmeg. It doesn't expand noticeably during cooking, so you can fill the flan case nearly to the top without fear of it boiling over.
Bake in a moderate oven approx 170 C for about 30 minutes until set.
Serve hot, warm or cold, with cream if liked.
You can also bake the pastry case blind, if you wish. In which case, bake the pastry case blind for about 10 minutes in a hot oven approx 200 C, then pour the custard mix into the cooked pastry case and bake in a moderate oven approximately 160 C for about 30 minutes. Either method works well.
I expect to get 6 or 8 slices out of this recipe, but that depends on your appetite. It will keep quite happily in a fridge or at room temperature (provided it isn’t too hot) for two or three days.