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”.
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.
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.
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.