Monday, 16 December 2013

Orange and Cinnamon Egg Custard Tarts

One of the baking shortcuts I often buy ready-made is puff pastry.  It's convenient and it saves a lot of time. I first learn to make puff pastry during my work experience as a culinary trainee in a hotel over a year ago. Making puff pastry at home is not too difficult, but yes, it does take time and patience. And I feel cooking/baking is like learning a language, if you don't practice enough, you might forget... just like my rusty French.  So in the spirit of that, I made my own puff pastry for the custard tarts.

I use Paul Hollywood's puff pastry recipe which you can find here.  The instructions are clear but be sure you read it through before you start.  The pastry needs to be chilled overnight twice, so you need to start early with the process.  

What I find most challenging is the weather... something I cannot change obviously. I wish I had the power to control the weather like Storm from X-Men... hmmm... question of the day: what superpower would you want?

Anyway, my point is when working with puff pastry, keeping it cold is crucial. You don't want the layers of butter to melt prematurely, making the dough soft, sticky and difficult to work with. It's hot and humid where I am right now and even though I have a cold work surface (a marble table) and a pair of cold hands, I still have to work quickly before the dough soften too much.  

The custard part is easy... and you can infuse or add any flavours you want.  But for me the scent of cinnamon, vanilla and warm orange is quintessentially Christmas, so I have to go with that.  And topping the custard tarts is freshly grated nutmeg.

Orange and Cinnamon Egg Custard Tart

100 gr caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla paste, or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Zest of 1 orange
250 ml full fat milk
1 cinnamon stick

Homemade or store-bought puff pastry

If you're making your own puff pastry, start with that. Once it's made, preheat your oven to 200 C and butter the holes in a 12-hole muffin tin.  Then roll your pastry on a floured surface, neither thin nor thick and cut out 12 discs using a cutter.  Press each disc into the muffin tin holes.  If you live somewhere warm like me, it's a good idea to put the pastry back in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to chill.  Line each one with baking parchment and fill with few baking beans and blind bake for 10-15 minutes.  Leave the pastry to cool completely in the tin.  Leave the oven on.

Let's make the custard.  Warm the milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon stick.  In a bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar, cornflour, vanilla paste and orange zest until creamy and pale.  Slowly pour the warm milk onto the yolk mixture and stir well.  Return this mixture into the pan and cook on a low heat until it thickens.  Stirring all the time.

Pour the custard into a small jug and then into each of the cooled pastry cases, filling almost to the top. Grate the nutmeg on top of the custard and place the tarts back in the oven for 10 minutes.  The custard will form a slight dome during baking which is fine... it'll sink back down when cooling.  

Let the tarts cool slightly in its tin then remove them carefully from the tin... and you know what to do next... (if you're like me, you'll be making a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the egg custard tarts in an air-conditioned room).


  1. Oh Michael, I DO love a light fluffy custard! Love the citrus and cinnamon of this particular custard!

  2. oooh, how wonderful do these look... so pretty and I bet so tasty... love these tarts... always buy my puff pastry!

  3. Cinnamon and orange are definitely great for the holiday treats. These custard tartlets look marvelous, Michael.

  4. Hehe I like your line about how you'd enjoy them! In the heat of summer, that's the only way to simulate a white christmas!

  5. Michael, I clicked over to check the source for the making of the puff pastry dough...I must say, I'm so impressed with Paul Hollywood's amazing baking techniques, and I applaud you for making the pastry for the cute little tarts from 'scratch'! It turned out superb, and I love the custard filling with the orange, and cinnamon!

  6. Hi Micheal,

    It is extremely HOT today in Melbourne... How I wish I have a pair of chilled hands to bake anything these days :p

    Really your cooler situation to bake these wonderful tarts :D


  7. Ohhh.. these look and sound wonderful!! Little tarts of heaven :)

    As for my superhero power... I think I would want to fly.... although I have really bad motion sickness, I'm sure since I'd be a superhero, I would not be affected by that at all!! lol

  8. Orange and cinnamon, I have to give this a try...they look great...what a nice dessert Michael.