Sugar High Friday #12 - Custard
Which is why the Sugar High Friday theme chosen by Elise at Simply Recipes was good. It gave me the motivation to try out a recipe for Portuguese Custard Tarts, which is something that I wouldn't usually get around to making.
The whole tart making experience was fun, even though it seemed to take forever and mess up my whole kitchen. I'll tell the story using photos and the recipe (from Sweet Food, published by Murdoch Books)...
155g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
25g copha (white vegetable shortening), chopped and softened
Hold on! What on earth is copha? Well, non-antipodeans, I am pleased to reveal that this strange Australian ingredient is vegetable shortening made of solidified coconut oil. Mmm, sounds delicious doesn't it?
Actually, I was really annoyed when I saw copha on the ingredient list! I only needed 25g, but it only comes in a 250g packet. And the only other recipe that calls for copha is
chocolate crackles! What a shame! I will have to whip up a batch of these top Aussie treats to use up the rest of my copha block.
Also, how authentically "Portuguese" can this recipe be? I get the feeling that copha is not stocked by the shopkeepers of Portugal/Macau/other famous custard tart destinations...
30g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
250g (1 cup) sugar
500ml (2 cups) milk
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon custard powder
What a gourmet rebel I am - using a recipe with custard powder!
4 egg yolks
Apparently you can freeze the whites, so I did that and I'll use them in my next batch of friands.
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Sift the flour into a bowl.
Goody! This is the easy bit.
Add 185ml (3/4 cup) water, or enough to form a soft dough. Gather into a ball, then roll out on baking paper to form a 24cm x 30cm rectangle.
This is when I started to realise that these custard tarts could turn into quite an interesting part of my baking self-education. The dough was not really all that dough-like, but I rolled it out anyway.
Rolling the dough
Spread copha over the surface.
Hmm. The copha didn't want to melt in the microwave! I thought it would melt like butter but even after a full 60 seconds it was still hard. I nuked it a bit longer and finally spread it over the "dough". There were some significant copha lumps.
Melt, damn copha!
Roll up from the short edge to form a log.
Right-o. I sprinkled a bit of flour around so I could get a grip of the edge. The quick'n'easy rolling that the book seemed to describe did not occur. It was more like squishing the dough back into a big lump.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle again, and spread with the butter.
At least the butter melted in the microwave!
Roll into a log and slice into 12 pieces.
My 12 pieces weren't very uniform in size! Oops!
Working from the centre outwards, use your fingertips to press each round out to a circle large enough to cover the base and sides of twelve 80ml (1/3 cup) muffin holes. Press into the tin and refrigerate.
I just whacked each lump of dough into the muffin tin and pressed it onto the base and up the sides.
Put the sugar and 80ml (1/3 cup) water into a pan, and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Mix a little milk with the cornflour and custard powder to form a smooth paste, and add to the pan with the remaining milk, egg yolks and vanilla. Stir over low heat until thickened. Put in a bowl, cover and cool.
It seemed to take forever for this custard mixture to thicken. Just when I started to think I'd done something terribly wrong, it finally thickened up!
Preheat oven to 220C (425F). Divide the filling among the pastry bases.
Custard-filled shells ready for baking
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard is set and the tops have browned. Cool in the tins, then transfer to a wire rack.
Fresh from the oven!
The finished product
Overall these were pretty tasty. The pastry was hard and crunchy and I don't think that's how it's supposed to turn out. The custard filling was sweet and delicious. If I could just improve my pastry-making skills, I'll be onto a winner!
Check out the round-up of all the custardy recipes from around the world now up at Simply Recipes.
food and drink SHF Sugar High Friday custard baking recipes