May 11, 2014


custard tart

The milk round on our road changed hands about ten years ago.  The old milk man was a genial kind of chap with a fascinating squint and a quirky sense of humour.  He would call on a Friday evening to suggest we might like to contribute to the ageing milk person’s retirement fund and was grovellingly apologetic if he had to put the price up.  The new one was grumpy and careless.  I had to cajole him into collecting his money and empty bottles.  I fell out with him a couple of times and then sacked him after he left nine empty bottles on our doorstep for a fortnight while we were away on holiday.

For five years or more we were obliged to buy milk from the supermarkets, something that I hated and regretted having to do.  Now our milk and eggs come from the local farm.  The eggs are free range and £1 for a box of six.  In that box there can be a variety of different sizes, the largest often being twice the size of the smallest, but generally averaging out at “large”.

custard tart2 The milk is from the cows in the fields that surround us and is pasteurised on the farm.  The farmer began pasteurising his own milk a few years ago and started selling it from a fridge in a shed, with an honesty box, by the farm gate.  Sales took off (it’s lovely milk) and he put up a solid building with vending machines.  As well as the eggs and milk he now sells his own cream and butter, bread, cakes and pastries from a local bakery, and potatoes.  In the summer there is also home made ice cream and local strawberries.  It’s a marvellous resource for the local people, especially as the goods on sale are far better quality and cheaper than the recently built huge supermarket not far away.

Then a neighbour offered to deliver the milk from the farm to residents in our road so we kind of got our milk round back.  However, it’s not quite like that.  He fetches the milk from the farm and delegates the delivery of it to his teenage kids, which is a great way to teach them that money doesn’t grow on trees but, kids being kids, deliveries are sometimes a little………irregular.

custard tart3

If we’re lucky it arrives at 8am before they go to school.  If we’re unlucky it arrives at 11pm when they remember that they’ve forgotten to bring it and if we’re very unlucky it doesn’t arrive at all.  But it’s tons better than having no milk round and I’m very happy with the service.

The upshot of all this is that sometimes I run out of milk and have to go to the farm to fetch some.  Other times the fridge is full of it, as happened one day last week when the non-delivery resulted in me fetching some then an 11pm delivery and a subsequent glut of milk.

custard tart4 I also had plenty of eggs and half a pack of ready-made pastry (my current weakness) so I looked at them and the idea of a custard tart suddenly became irresistible.  I made it the way my mum always made it, using just milk and eggs, no cream.  As a child the only cream we ever had was that from the top of the full-cream milk, or from a tin on Sundays.  So I made my custard tart using the Be-Ro book recipe and it was positively lovely, just like my mum used to make.


I am entering my custard tart into this month’s Tea Time Treats Challenge, a monthly baking challenge run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and Jane of The Hedge Combers.  This month the theme is “open top tarts, pies and quiches” and you can see the details here.


½ pack of ready-made shortcrust pastry (or make your own with 100g flour)

2 large eggs

300ml (½ pint) milk

2 tblsp sugar

nutmeg (I used ready grated from a jar, just like my mum used to)


Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170°fan / gas mk 5.  Grease a 20cm flan dish or tin.

Roll out the pastry and bake blind for 15-20 minutes until golden. 

While the pastry is baking, whisk the eggs in a jug or bowl.  Put the milk and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Pour onto the eggs and mix thoroughly.   Allow to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4. 

Pour the milk carefully through a sieve into the pastry case, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 20 minutes until set.  (When you take it out of the oven it might have a very slight wobble but will firm up as it cools.)

Serve warm or cold.  It slips down perfectly with no additions on the plate.

Serves up to six people.  Four would be more like it, or in our house, only two.


  1. Our milk delivery is twice a week, so I know what you mean about sometimes ending up with a glut. I generally solve it by making custard (no tart though).
    This is Simon's favourite dessert. What in France is called flan. I never make it, we always buy it from the patisserie (Veigné is particularly good, also Nature du Pain in Chambray les Tours).

    1. Susan, flan always looks slightly denser or stiffer than custard tart so I wonder if something is added to do this, maybe cornflour.
      I have only eaten it a couple of times and seem to remember a vanilla flavour.
      Perhaps like anything it depends on who bakes it.

    2. Jean: Flan nature doesn't have vanilla. The patissier will specify au vanille if there is vanilla added. You could be right that something is added to make it stiffer (flour I think, not cornstarch).

      BTW, until I met Simon it never occurred to me that custard came without vanilla -- I had never encountered it, so I think it must be an English thing (or it is an Australian thing that custard always has vanilla).

  2. I love a custard tart and I don't care who knows it. Yours looks simply gorgeous. I've always thought that cream wasn't a necessary or desirable addition, although I confess that I've eaten a couple of tarts in the last few years with cream in them and enjoyed them. Must be a sign of decadence or old age. I love French flan too although it's much firmer in texture, which makes it a little easier to eat in the street. I think the last time I had milk delivered was around 40 years ago. I'm feeling all nostalgic for doorstep milk now.

  3. I was brought up on Custard Tart and Egg Custard which is why I am not a fan now... No vanilla sometimes nutmeg as I remember... Col

    1. Colin, I didn't think it was possible to become tired of custard tart, or egg custard!

  4. I'm a great fan of egg custard in all its forms, Jean, and this looks lovely. French flan is definitely much stiffer than the English custard tart. My mother always added nutmeg too, never vanilla.

  5. My sister-in-law introduced me to this farm and the vending machines last year. I haven't been in a while but I'm going over on Sunday so I must remember to take plenty of pound coins!

  6. That looks like a wonderful, wobbly tart! And although I quite like the richness of cream, I bet yours was wonderful with that lovely fresh milk straight off the farm!

  7. Love custard tart and yours look delicious. I make it without cream too, just like my Mum did.

  8. This looks lovely! I haven't had a custard tart in ages. It makes such a difference when you use good quality (local!) dairy too.

  9. This is just lovely, Jean! I haven't made a custard tart in ages. I've been more into making tiny custard tarts for afternoon teas in recent years. Used to make the large tarts for my father; he was a real custard fan -- baked or stirred custard.

    PS Thank you so much for your comment on my current blog post! Unfortunately, the giveaway of the set of Le Creuset cast iron mini cocottes is limited to US residents. Some of the companies specify US residents only, and some do not; so I hope you'll check back for other giveaways.

  10. Love the story, and love the look of that tart even more! Thank you so much for finding the time to enter it in this months Tea Time Treats!
    Janie x