Salted Caramel Custard Tart

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6–8

Appears in

Bake

Bake

By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

I recently went out with two friends to a restaurant called Trinity in Clapham, London. The food was delicious, but what really stood out was their salted caramel custard tart. On the night, I endeavoured to recreate it for the home baker – and here’s my version!

Ingredients

  • 180 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • small pinch of salt
  • 110 g butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 4–6 tsp cold water

For the salted caramel custard filling

  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 280 ml double cream
  • tsp sea salt flakes (I normally use Maldon)
  • seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 ml whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks

Equipment

  • food processor
  • 20cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin, about 3cm deep
  • ceramic baking beans or dried pulses or rice

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour, salt and butter together in a food processor and blitz into breadcrumbs. Be really careful not to over-process it otherwise the butter will go too soft. Tip this mixture into a bowl and make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk. Mixing with a round-bladed knife, add enough of the water so that it mixes together quickly, making sure that all of the dry bits are in the dough. Then put your hands in and bring it all together. Squeeze it nice and tightly together, flatten it a little and then wrap it in cling film. Pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the mixture of stretchy proteins (gluten) in the flour to relax – this will make it easier for you to roll out the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4). Get your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a circle, at least 26cm in diameter, with the thickness of half a £1 coin (about 1.5mm). Place the rolling pin in the centre of the pastry and fold one half of the pastry over the top, and then lift the rolling pin and place the pastry over the tart tin. Allow the pastry to gently fall into the tin. Take a little ball of excess pastry, dip it in flour and use this to gently ease the pastry into the ‘corners’. Another tip is to dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the flour and then use it to very gently push the pastry into the flutes of the tin. Be really careful not to stretch or pull the pastry as this will cause it to shrink in the oven.

When the tart is nicely lined, place the tin on a baking sheet, then take a very sharp knife and trim off the excess pastry. Then pop it back into the fridge to rest for 10–15 minutes for the pastry to firm up a little.

When the pastry is firm, remove it from the fridge. Take a piece of baking parchment and cut it into a circle, about 35cm in diameter. Scrunch it up so that it will sit in the tin, and then open it out and place it on top of the pastry case. Fill the tart tin with ceramic baking beans, dried pulses or rice, making sure they come right up the sides. Place the tin onto a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move the tin around) and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the pastry looks a little set but not coloured.

Carefully draw up the edges of the parchment to remove the beans from the pastry and discard. Brush the base with the egg white to help to seal it and avoid a soggy bottom, and then return the pastry case to the oven for another 5–7 minutes, or until the base is firm and the pastry feels sandy to the touch. Take the tart tin out of the oven and set it aside, and then lower the oven temperature to 150°C (fan 130°C/300°F/gas 2).

While the pastry case is in the oven, make the salted caramel custard filling. Put the sugar into a wide-bottomed heavy-based pan and place over a medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt – don’t stir it, just move the pan around every few seconds. This takes around 10 minutes, so just keep swirling the pan around now and again. The sugar will eventually turn a dark honeycomb colour, but don’t allow it to get too dark as it may taste a little bitter.

When all of the sugar has dissolved, carefully add the double cream – make sure you stand back as you add it, as it will spit. Then, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture continuously. It will go hard and look pretty dodgy but lower the heat and keep stirring it and the sugar will eventually dissolve into the cream. Once all the sugar has dissolved, add the sea salt flakes, vanilla and the milk and mix again. Take this off the heat and leave it to cool down a little.

Put the yolks in a bowl and add about one-fifth of the warm cream mixture and mix to combine with a wooden spoon. Keep adding one-fifth of the cream mixture at a time, stirring after each addition until you have added all the mixture and it is well combined. Set this salted caramel custard aside.

Pour the salted caramel custard filling into the pastry case and very carefully place it into the lower part of the oven. Bake the tart for about 45–50 minutes, or until the caramel is just set but still has a slight wobble in the centre. Once the tart is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool down completely. To serve, cut into slices with a very sharp knife. I think this is best served on its own.