Tamarind was a popular, yet rare, ingredient in the 18th century. It found its way to Britain through the East India Company. Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that looks a bit like a smooth peanut shell; inside hides the sticky black flesh that is used in the cuisines of different cultures, especially Indian. Tamarind adds a little sourness and enhances flavour. Combined with the bay leaf and mace, it makes this tart something very special.
Make the shortcrust pastry by combining the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse for 8 seconds or until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and water and pulse again until the dough forms a ball in the bowl. Remove from the bowl and knead briefly. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Butter the tart tin and dust with flour. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface. Gently lift the dough over the tin and let it sink into the base. Use a piece of excess dough to firmly press the edge into the tin. Trim the excess pastry with a knife and then pierce the base with a fork. Freeze the tart shell for 1 hour or refrigerate for a few hours.
Crumple up a piece of baking paper, then smooth it out and place it in the tart shell. This will help the paper fit the shape of the tart. Fill the pastry with baking beads or rice and place in the middle of the oven to bake blind for 10 minutes or until the edge of the crust is coloured. Remove the paper and beads or rice and bake for another 5 minutes to dry it out.
Brush the egg wash over the pastry base to help prevent it from getting soggy and bake for 5 minutes. Allow the pastry to cool.
For the custard filling, heat the milk and cream with the sugar, bay leaf and mace in a pan. Beat the egg yolks and the whole egg in a separate bowl. Remove the spices and pour a tiny bit of the warm milk and cream mixture into the eggs and beat well; this prepares the eggs for the warm milk mixture. Pour the rest of the milk into the eggs while you whisk continuously.
Drop dots of about⅛ teaspoon of tamarind onto the pastry base until the base is speckled. Strain the custard into a jug, then pour it over the tamarind.
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