Yorkshire curd tart

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • For

    6-8

    people

Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

Yorkshire curd tart is traditionally eaten at Pentecost. It’s an old form of cheesecake that was traditionally made with beestings or colostrum, the first milk a cow produces after calving. This milk is thicker and yellowish, and is particularly rich in nutrients and fat. In more recent years, the cake has been made with curd cheese, a very light cheese made by hanging curdled milk in muslin and draining it for a few hours. You can also make curd with soured milk or buttermilk, but I’ve used rennet to avoid an acidic taste.

Ingredients

For the curd cheese

  • 2 litres (8 cups) raw milk
  • 1 tsp rennet

For the shortcrust pastry

  • 250 g (9 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 100 g ( oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 125 g ( oz) chilled butter, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • flour, for dusting
  • butter, for greasing
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash

For the filling

  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • 50 g ( oz) raw (demerara) sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 230 g (8 oz) curd cheese
  • 50 g ( oz) currants

Method

For a 22 cm (8½ inch) tart tin

To make the cheese, start half a day in advance or the day before. Place a clean piece of muslin (cheesecloth) in a colander over a large bowl. Heat the milk in a large saucepan until it reaches 37°C (99°F), then remove it from the heat and thoroughly stir in the rennet. Leave to rest for 15-30 minutes or until the cheese has set (if nothing happens, then you haven’t added enough rennet). Carefully pour the cheese into the cheesecloth. Pour off the whey (you can keep it for baking). Drain the cheese in the cloth above the bowl for 4 hours.

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 and flour the tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface. Gently lift it over the tin and let it sink into the base. Use a piece of excess dough to firmly press the edges 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.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).

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 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.

Reduce the oven to 180°C (350°F).

For the filling, melt the butter and let it cool, then add the sugar, egg yolks, lemon zest and nutmeg and mix well. Pass the curd cheese through a fine sieve into a large bowl, then gradually add the butter mixture. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in a large bowl, then fold in the butter mixture and the currants.

Spoon the filling into the tart shell and bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the tart to cool completely before serving.