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British Custard Tart, a rich creamy egg custard baked in a flakey pastry crust.

British Custard Tart

British Custard Tart - a rich, creamy baked custard, favoured with nutmeg inside a flakey pastry crust. Makes a great celebration dessert.

Course Dessert
Cuisine British Inspired
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 to 10 servings
Author Barry C. Parsons


For the pastry

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter (Very cold and cut in small cubes)
  • 4-6 tbsp ice water + 1 tsp white vinegar

For the filling

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • the seed paste scraped from the onside of a small vanilla bean + the remaining vanilla pod
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar , lightly packed
  • freshly grated nutmeg


To prepare the pastry

  1. This pastry recipe is sufficient for 2 pie shells but the second half of the pastry is easily formed into a flat round, wrapped tightly in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and frozen for several weeks until you need it.
  2. Pulse the cold butter into the flour, sugar and salt using a food processor or pastry cutter until the butter is reduced to pea sized pieces.
  3. Remove to a large bowl. Sprinkle the water and vinegar over the surface and toss with a fork until the water is just incorporated into the dough. Do not over work the dough; handle it only enough so that the dough stays together.
  4. Separate the dough into 2 balls and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge to chill well. You can freeze one for another time.
  5. Roll out into a 12 inch round and place into a 9 inch deep dish pie plate or tart pan being careful not to stretch the dough or it will shrink during baking. Trim the excess pastry from the edges and chill the pan for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Lay a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the pastry in the pan and fill the pan with baking weights. If you don’t have baking weights, dry kidney beans or rice will do in a pinch; anything that will weigh down the bottom pastry so that it doesn’t puff up. You can reuse dry beans many times for blind baking so be sure to save them for that purpose.
  7. Blind bake the pastry using the baking weights for about 15 minutes, remove the baking weights and parchment paper and bake for another 10-15 minutes to crisp the bottom of the pie shell. Remove from oven while you prepare the filling. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

To prepare the filling

  1. In a small saucepan over low heat add the whipping cream, milk, salt and vanilla pod. You want to heat this very slowly to almost boiling so the full flavor of the vanilla bean gets infused into the cream and milk. When heated remove the vanilla bean and set aside for a couple of minutes. (NOTE: In a pinch, 4 tsp of pure vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean.)
  2. Whip together the eggs and brown sugar very well. Slowly whisk in the hot milk a little at a time; too fast and you’ll scramble the eggs.
  3. Remove from heat and pass the cream and egg mixture through a sieve into a large heat proof measuring cup or jug.
  4. Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Place the blind baked pie shell in its pan on a baking sheet. Pour in the cream and egg mixture until it has almost reached the top of the shell. Finely grate or sprinkle on a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven. If you have a little more cream mixture to bring the level to the top of the crust, you can carefully pour that into the pan when it is in the oven to avoid spillage. It’s perfectly okay if you have a little of the filling mixture left over, pan sizes do vary.
  6. Bake for 60 -70 minutes. The top should be pale golden brown and the center swill still juggle a little at the center.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool to almost room temperature before transferring to the fridge to cool and set completely. This will take several hours or overnight. Serve with fresh berries or seasonal fruit salad.