There are few things I love more than custard. So when I found out that my boyfriend - while we were in our courting days - hated custard, I felt like he'd slapped me. How can someone hate custard? I soon thereafter discovered he was basing this statement on his only experience with custard... the carton variety. Gasp!
Surely a distaste for something so heavenly is negotiable, right? So shortly after, I made (really, I did force him to) try fresh, homemade vanilla bean custard. And he changed his mind. Of course.
Since then - and it has been a while now - I make custard based desserts as much as possible. Baked custards, crème brulée, custard tarts, custard tea cakes, cupcakes, whatever I can. This lovely tart combines two of his and favourite things. And it's pretty amazing.
Recipe taken from Delicious June 2010 issue (which, on a tangent is perfect)
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, plus 3 yolks
Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 tbsp cornflour
300 mls thickened cream
2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped
400 gms rhubarb, chopped
20 gms unsalted butter, chopped
1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
1/2 cup plain flour
50 gms unsalted butter, cold and chopped
2 tbsps brown sugar
For filling, combine half the caster sugar with eggs, yolks, zest and cornflour in a bowl.
Place cream and seeds of one vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Slowly pour hot cream over egg mixture, stirring. Return to a clean saucepan over a low heat and cook, stirring constantly until custard has thickened slightly (about 5 - 6 mins). Strain custard into a jug, cover surface with glad wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat a baking tray in an oven at 200C/180C fan-forced. Place the rhubarb in a single layer in another baking dish with remaining caster sugar and vanilla seeds. Dot with butter, drizzle with 1 tbs water and add vanilla pod. Roast for 15 mins until rhubarb is tender but keeps its shape. Carefully remove rhubarb pieces and set aside, reserving juices.
Use pastry to line a 21cm loose-bottomed tart pan and prick base with a fork. Line with baking paper, and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 10 mins on hot baking tray. Remove the weights, and bake for a further 5 mins until pastry is crisp and golden.
Meanwhile, for the crumble, place the flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Add butter and rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir through brown sugar. Scatter over a baking tray.
Pour cooled custard into the pastry case, then arrange the rhubarb on top. Place tart on the heated tray and return to the oven with the crumble topping. Bake both for 12 - 15 mins, shaking crumble tray throughout, until tart filling is just set and crumble forms golden clumps (it will harden upon cooling). Cool tart slightly before removing from the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature, scattered with the crumble topping and drizzled with reserved rhubarb juice.
Recommended baking soundtrack: Songs of Green Pheasant - Songs of Green Pheasant.