Egg tarts are lovely to look at and needless to say, delicious when they are fresh out of the oven. I remember when I went back to Malaysia 2 years ago and when my kids were still very particular and unfamiliar with the food there, my mom would always insist on buying some egg tarts for them. According to her, it kind of gave her a peace of mind knowing that at least the kids are getting some nutrition in the form of high protein! And the hilarious thing about my kids then was that Missy E only ate the crust while Prince D only scooped out the custard part. Talk about picky eaters.
Forward 2 years later, both the kids have learned to take the egg tarts wholly and always welcome egg tarts when we patronize the Dim Sum restaurants. The one that we usually get is the Hong Kong style egg tarts, with short crust tart shells and firm and smooth egg custard filling, of which custard powder or corn starch is usually added. The other version which is more rare to come by in the neck of my woods is the Portuguese egg tart, with flaky puff crust and a more softer filling resembling creme brulee. The burnt spots on the custard part is a result of baking in a very hot oven and when they come out from the oven, the custard is still bubbly and releasing steam which eventually will harden on the surface layer while maintaining the soft curd inside. I like the rustic look of these tarts with its wobbly and sunken custard.
I could have used the pack of filo pastry in my freezer but I was curious on how to make a flaky crust. Half way, I decided to reduce the butter quantity required to be folded in with the dough, as in puff pastry dough and the crust turned out firm on the outside and flaky inside after the baking! So, I believe this is more like short crust rather than the original flaky puff crust of the Portuguese tart. Making the pastry part is alot of work and I don't think I will make it from scratch next time and making the custard part required constant attention and stirring when the eggs starts to thicken the cream and milk on the stove. As soon as the custard thickens to the stage that it coats the stirring spoon, it must be removed from the heat immediately and let cool before filling it into the unbaked crust cases. Initially I baked the tarts at 400F and increased it to 425F at the last 10 mins to get the burnt effect. As this tart is loaded with a rich filling made of cream, milk, eggs and sugar, I recommend that smaller or medium sized tart tins to be used instead of the large ones like these and a cup of strong coffee or tea is lovely with these tarts.
300gm Cake Flour
50gm All Purpose Flour
75 gm butter (room temperature)
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tbsp sugar
165ml cold water
75gm butter (slightly cold)
200ml heavy cream
1 egg & 3 egg yolks
1)Sift the cake flour, all purpose flour and salt together. Stir in the sugar.
2)Cut the butter into the flour mixture and use fingers to coat and rub into the flour thoroughly till resemble soft crumbs.
3)Slowly pour in the cold water to make a dough. The dough will feel heavy and cold to the hands. Knead into a dough ball and cover in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for 45 mins.
4)Take out the dough and roll out to a rectangle of 1 inch thick on a floured surface.
5)Take pieces of the remaining cold butter and smudge roughly all over the surface of the dough. Fold the rectangle dough in 3 folds from left to right.
6)Turn it around where the joining edge is nearest to you. Roll out to a rectangle again and fold again in 3 folds from left to right. Put into a plastic bag and let it rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
7)Make custard: Put all the ingredients except the egg and egg yolks in a pot and slowly bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
8)Once the milk, cream and sugar mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour some of the mixture into the eggs while continuing to beat the eggs with one hand. This must be done to prevent curdling. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot mixture and cook by stirring continuously on slow heat till the custard thickens to coat the stirring spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.
9)Preheat oven to 400F. Grease the tart/muffin tins.
10)Take out the dough and roll out to 1 inch thick. Using the right size cookie cutter, cut the dough to fit the size of the tart/muffin tins of choice. Divide and pour the custard to fill up the tart cases.
11)Bake for 20 mins at 400F and increase to 425F and bake for 10 mins, till the custard is bubbly with slight browning on its surface. Remove from oven and let cool in the tins itself for 10 mins before removing them to the rack to cool.
Makes : 8 large tarts; 12 medium tarts; 24 mini tarts