Kieran and I went to Portugal recently for the weekend with my aunt and uncle, which was a lot of fun – and also the perfect opportunity to stuff my face with these. I LOVE a portuguese custard tart.

The only place you can get decent ones here is, bizzarely, a chinese bakery in town, so I thought I’d make my own.

They are  completely different from egg custard tarts – I’d never made custard this way before and I was concerned when I tasted it that it was far too sweet. However, when baked and tasted with the pastry, it was perfect.

They puffed a lot when they were baked, but as they cool they settle back into the pastry normally and the custard has a lovely sheen.

Pasteis De Nata

Pasteis De Nata

Recipe adapted from Victor Felisberto from Portal Restaurant, published in Olive magazine.

  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 250 semi skimmed milk
  • 30g plain flour
  • 20g cornflour
  • few drops vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 375g puff pastry
  1. Tip the sugar, lemon and cinnamon into a pan with 125ml water and bring to the boil.
  2. Mix the flour, cornflour and vanilla with a small amount of milk into a paste.
  3. Boil the rest of the milk and pour onto the paste, mixing. Pour back into the pan and simmer, whisking until the mixture is thick.
  4. Remove the cinnamon and lemon and add the sugar to the pan.
  5. Add the eggs and bring back to a simmer, whisking until smooth.
  6. Pour into a jug, cover with cling film and cool.
  7. Heat the oven to 220c/fan200c/gas7 and heat a baking tray in the bottom of the oven.
  8. Roll out the puff pastry , lightly dusted with flour and icing sugar.
  9. Cut the pastry in half and lay one sheet on top of the other.
  10. Roll the pastry sheets up like a swiss roll and cut 12 slices approx 1-2cm thick.
  11. Roll each slice into 10cm discs. Press each disc into the wells of a buttered muffin tray. Divide the custard between the pastry cases.
  12. Bake them for 18-20 mins on the preheated baking sheet or until the custard has puffed up and the pastry is cooked and golden brown.
  13. Cool in the tin and serve with a dusting of cinnamon and icing sugar.

I love rhubarb and always buy a massive bunch of it when I see it in the local greengrocer shop. Kieran, however, isn’t as keen as he finds it too tart. I usually make rhubarb into a crumble, which I love with lashings of custard – so this time I looked for a recipe where the rhubarb would be much sweeter in an attempt to change Kieran’s mind.

This cake is probably one of the best recipes I’ve found in the past year. The rhubarb is sweet, but full of flavour. The addition of the custard in the cake itself produces an incredibly moist cake. And it proved popular. I took the leftovers into work and one person had three pieces. Well worth a make – and I’ll be making this often!

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

Recipe from BBC Good Food – serves 16

  • 1 quantity Barney’s roastedrhubarb (see recipe below)
  • 250g pack butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 150g pot ready-made custard (not the chilled kind; I used Ambrosia)
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • ½ tspbaking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • icing sugar , for dusting

Barney’s roasted rhubarb

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Rinse 400g rhubarb and shake off excess water. Trim the ends, then cut into little-finger-size pieces. Put in a shallow dish or a baking tray, tip over 50g caster sugar, toss together, then shuffle rhubarb so it’s in a single layer. Cover with foil, then roast for 15 mins. Remove foil. Give everything a little shake, roast for 5 mins more or until tender and the juices are syrupy.

  1. Make the roasted rhubarb first, carefully draining off the juices before you let it cool. Butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  2. Reserve 3 tbsp of the custard in a bowl. Beat the rest of the custard together with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spoon one-third of the mix into the tin, add some of the rhubarb, then dot with one-third more cake mix and spread it out as well as you can. Top with some more rhubarb, then spoon over the remaining cake mix, leaving it in rough mounds and dips rather than being too neat about it. Scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the batter, then dot the remaining custard over. Bake for 40 mins until risen and golden, then cover with foil and bake for 15-20 mins more. It’s ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then dredge with icing sugar when cool.

My piece!

It’s really important to keep going back to foods you think you hate and keep trying them – as tastes can change dramatically over time. I try an olive once a year or so and I still think they taste like perfume, but have changed my mind about a lot of other foods, so it’s well worth trying some foods you haven’t gone near for years thinking you don’t like them, as you may be surprised.

Two recent discoveries for me have been peanut butter (which I now eat out of the jar, despite hating it my entire childhood) and creme caramel. I re-discovered this about two years ago and loved it, though I remember hating it so much as a child that I actually turned down pudding when it was offered to me, which is tantamount to hell freezing over.

Consequently, I had never tried to make one before until now and am quite happy with my first attempt!

It would have been nice if my caramel had turned out a little smoother, but the taste was lovely and rich and the custard was perfect, smooth and well flavoured. This is a good dinner party dessert – impressive and easy to prepare ahead!

Right, I’m off to try some turkish delight to see if I like it yet…

Recipe from BBC Good Food (Makes 6)

For the caramel

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cold water

For the custard

  • 500ml milk
  • 3 large eggs , plus 2 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar
  • a few drops vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier, optional
  1. Put the sugar in a small frying pan, preferably non-stick, and add the water. Heat slowly, stirring gently with a metal tablespoon until the sugar has dissolved. The base of the pan will no longer feel gritty when you run the spoon over it. (Step 1)
  2. Increase the heat under the pan and allow the syrup to bubble. As the water is driven off, the syrup will become thicker and the bubbles on the surface will get bigger. Do not stir the syrup during this time. (Step 2)
  3. Watch the syrup carefully and when it starts to turn golden at the edges, swirl the pan to ensure even colouring. Do not stir it. When the syrup has turned a rich golden caramel colour, remove from heat. (Step 3)
  4. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Pour the caramel into ramekins. Bring the milk to simmering point.
  5. Put the eggs and yolks in a bowl with the sugar and whisk lightly together.
  6. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Strain into a clean jug and add the vanilla, and liqueur, if using. Pour carefully into the prepared ramekins.
  7. Pour boiling water from the kettle into a roasting tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 15-20 mins until the custards are just set. Leave to cool, then chill for at least 4 hrs, or even overnight. The caramels can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  8. To turn out each caramel, run the point of a sharp knife around the top edge of each ramekin, place a dessert plate on top and invert. Give the ramekin and plate a sharp shake and carefully remove the ramekin.

Now, this is a true, british dish. A hilariously stupid name, meat product in a sweet dish, hearty and covered in custard. Couldn’t be more british if it tried. It’s also old, as the first reference to a spotted dick recipe has been found from 1850! It’s also super tasty.

It’s essentially a suet pudding dotted with currants (I use half currants, half chocolate chips!), which is steamed in a pudding bowl, hence the shape. You then merely slice and serve with some steaming hot custard.

Served 6 – From James Martin

  • 300g/10oz plain flour
  • 10g/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g/5oz shredded suet
  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 110g/4oz currants
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk
  • butter, for greasing
  • lashings of hot custard
  1. For the spotted dick, place the flour, baking powder, shredded suet, caster sugar, currants and lemon zest into a bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.
  3. Grease a pudding basin with butter and spoon the mixture into the basin. Cover with a piece of folded greaseproof paper.
  4. Tie around the edge with string to secure the paper and place a damp tea towel over the top. Tie once more with string to secure the tea towel.
  5. Place the basin into a large lidded saucepan and fill the pan two-thirds of the way up with water.
  6. Cover with the lid, bring to a boil and simmer for one hour.
  7. To serve, slice a wedge of spotted dick for each person and place onto each of six plates. Pour over the custard and serve at once.

I’m not a fan of regular bread and butter pudding – and, as a wheat intolerant, it doesn’t agree too much with my insides. In fact, we are usually a bread free house as Kieran doesn’t really eat it either. But I had leftover pain au chocolat from a picnic and didn’t want them to go to waste. May as well make a dessert out of it (and to be honest, with the amount of pastry and cake I’ve been eating recently, you wouldn’t think that I was wheat intolerant at all!)

My friend gave me a few old copies of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’ magazine, which had a recipe for chocolate bread and butter pudding, using croissants. I’ve adapted it slightly. It may have converted me – very rich and you definitely need to eat this warm with some cream or ice cream, to cut through the richness.

photo 3

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

 

Serves 8

  • butter, for greasing
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 500ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
  • 175g white chocolate
  • 17g dark chocolate
  • 750g pain au chocolat (I used 8)
  1. Grease an oven dish or tin with butter. Beat the egg yolks, eggs and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Put the milk in a pan with vanilla seeds and bring just up to the boil (do not allow to boil). Pour the hot milk onto the eggs and stir well until combined. Strain through a sieve.
  2. Melt 100g white chocolate and 100g dark chocolate in separate heatproof bowls over pans of simmering water. Chop the remaining chocolates, keeping them separate.
  3. Slice the croissants. Place a layer of bread at the bottom of the dish and spread over half of the melted dark chocolate and sprinkle over some dark chocolate chunks. Top with another layer of bread and then half the melted milk chocolate and some milk chocolate chunks. Press down and repeat to use up all the bread and the chocolate.
  4. Pour some milk mixture slowly over the pudding. Let it sink in for 2 minutes before pouring on more, reserving about 150ml. Cover the pudding and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170c/gas3. Place the pudding dish into a roasting tin. Pour hot water halfway up the sides of the dish. Pour the remaining milk into the pudding and bake for 25 minutes – it should feel firm and set in the middle. If you see liquid, return to the oven.
  6. Serve with ice cream and chocolate shavings on top.

This month has been all about being British. With St George’s Day and the Royal Wedding being in the same week, food has been all about getting back to good old british basics – and what better than a traditional suet jam roly poly. I adore a good suet pudding and this should definitely be served with custard.

Slightly adapted from BBC Good Food

Serves 6

  • 50g salted butter , cold and cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing
  • 250g self-raising flour , plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste
  • 50g shredded suet
  • 150ml milk , plus a drop more if needed
  • 100g/4oz mixed fruit jam
  • custard , to serve
  1. Put a deep roasting tin onto the bottom shelf of the oven, and make sure that there’s another shelf directly above it. Pull the roasting tin out on its shelf, fill two-thirds with boiling water from the kettle, then carefully slide it back in. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tear off a large sheet of foil and greaseproof paper (about 30 x 40cm). Sit the greaseproof on top of the foil and butter it. (NB – make sure you grease this very well, as the pudding WILL try to stick to the paper)
  2. Tip butter, flour and vanilla into a food processor; pulse until the butter has disappeared. Tip into a mixing bowl. Stir through the suet, pour in the milk and work together with a cutlery knife until you get a sticky dough. You may need a drop more milk, depending on your flour.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, quickly pat together to smooth, then roll out to a square roughly 25 x 25cm. Spread the jam all over, leaving a gap along one edge, then roll up from the opposite edge. Pinch the jam-free edge into the dough where it meets, and pinch the ends roughly, too. Carefully lift onto the greased paper, join-side down (you might find a flat baking sheet helpful for this), loosely bring up the paper and foil around it, then scrunch together along the edges and ends to seal. The roly-poly will puff quite a bit during cooking so don’t wrap it tightly. Lift the parcel directly onto the rack above the tin and cook for 1 hr.
  4. Let the pudding sit for 5 mins before unwrapping, then carefully open the foil and paper, and thickly slice to serve.

So I attempted to make a double choc chip cake  – and ended up with a tasty cake – unfortunately it was as dry as a bag of cotton wool. Not good.

But don’t panic – I have a rescue scenario for such occasions.

Slice the cake and place in a dish. Cover with chocolate custard and refridgerate.

You now have a deliciously moist and tasty chocolate pudding, hot or cold!

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