Plum and Bay Custard Tart

This elegant and seasonal plum and custard tart recipe, with bayleaf as an unusual flavour twist, is a wonderfully comforting dinner party dessert.

Introduction

While organic plums and bay leaves wouldn’t seem like such a gorgeous match on paper, we truly ate our words (and this pud) once our Jassy served it up.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

For the pastry:
185g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g caster sugar
115g cold butter
1 egg
1 tbsp cold water
Sea salt
For the custard:
125ml whole milk
125ml double cream
½ vanilla pod
1 handful of bay leaves
3 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
1 tsp plain flour
5-6 plums
For the sauce:
5-6 plums
25g caster sugar
Icing sugar, to dust
Freshly ground pepper

Essential kit

You will need a 23cm round tart tin.

Instructions

First, make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl with the caster sugar and a pinch of salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips to make fine crumbs.

In a bowl, whisk the egg with the cold water. Set 1 tbsp of the mixture aside to use as an egg wash later. Add the rest to the flour, 1 tbsp at a time, and gently stir with your hand till the pastry comes together. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the custard. Pour the milk and cream into a pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds out of the pod into the pan, then chuck in the pod. Add the bay leaves.

Bring the milk to the boil, stirring now and then. Take the milk off the heat and leave to infuse for 30 mins. Strain the infused milk. Gently reheat so it’s steaming hot but not boiling.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar and flour together. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, a little at a time, till you have a thick, smooth custard.

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Carefully roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line a 23cm round tart tin – the pastry will be quite soft. Add more flour if it’s too soft to work with. Chill for 30 mins.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 20 mins or till the pastry feels firm. Take out the paper and beans. Brush the pastry with the saved egg wash. Bake for another 15 mins till pale golden.

Turn the oven down to 160°C/Gas 3. Quarter five or six plums and scoop out the stones. Arrange the plums in the pastry case. Pour in the custard and bake for 30–40 mins till the tart is just set but wobbles a little when shaken. Leave to cool.

Halve, stone and roughly chop the plums for the sauce. Pop them in a pan with the caster sugar and plenty of black pepper. Cook and stir for 10 mins till they break down and make a thick sauce. Press through a sieve so you have a thin, clear sauce. Serve slices of the tart with the sauce, decorated with some basil leaves and a dusting of icing sugar.

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus 30 minutes infusing.

Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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