Saturday, January 3, 2009
JAMIE'S PORTUGUESE EGG TART
First things first. It's quite an ugly tart. (It doesn't look that bad in the picture but it is rather ugly in 'person' especially when you have a whole cluster of them). Second, but the pastry tasted pretty good. I liked what Jamie did with it. It was perfectly just-nice sweet with an edge of cinnamon to it. I could eat it on its own. But I didn't quite like the custard. Third, there's a reason why it's called a Portuguese tart. The Portuguese probably make it better I suppose or at least the people in Macau do. And fourth, I don't think you can improve much on something that is already good. I remember a very very very long queue of people that stretched along two whole office blocks in Taipei in the early morning before work just waiting, each their turn, to purchase some Portuguese egg tarts to snack on. That was an amazing sight. It was the rage then and Portuguese egg tarts were really 'in'. It must have been really really good for it to be worth that long a wait for.
BUT having said all that I would make them again. But I would make them somewhat prettier and not arrange the pastry the way Jamie suggested. It looked good on tv and in his book but somehow it didn't look too good in real life. And I would probably try a different custard filling. But I do like the idea of dribbling caramel over the top of the custard as opposed to the black and charred custard of the Portuguese tarts. Jamie's certainly contains less cancer causing carcinogens. I've never tried those real authentic Portuguese tarts that are burnt black on the top but I've tried some copycats that are not so burnt on the top and which tasted rather good.
OK if you want to make this you will need puff pastry. Now this is where I come in. You could use my rough puff pastry recipe from here or you could buy a ready made one at the store. My pastry, if I have to say so myself, is pretty good and worked perfectly with Jamie's recipe for the tart shell.
This is Jamie's recipe :
THE PASTRY :
approx. 9 oz of puff pastry
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp castor sugar
a light grating of nutmeg
a couple of pinches of cinnamon
Note : I omitted the nutmeg because I didn't have it so I used cinnamon liberally, not just a pinch or two. I liked it!
Dust a surface with flour and roll out your pastry to a bit bigger than an A4 size sheet of paper. Brush with egg yolk and scatter the rest of the ingredients all over it, "being subtle with the nutmeg and cinnamon" (uh uh I don't think so). Roll the pastry up tightly like a swiss roll to make a long sausage shape. With a knife cut across the sausage into 1 inch pieces. Like so...
Take 8 pieces and freeze the rest of pastry "for a rainy day." (At the rate that it's raining these days you might as well use it all up) The custard recipe is really a lot and there would have been quite a bit left over if you only made 8 tart shells. Just imagine 6 eggs and 500ml of cream combined. Isn't that a lot?
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Turn all the cut pieces of pastry swirl side up. Press down slightly , dust with flour and then roll into a thin circle the size of a teacup saucer. Jamie at this point used glass tumblers to wrap the pastry pieces around. I didn't dare in case they broke in the oven so I used muffin tins, greased and floured them and moulded the pastry inside each cup in the muffin tin.
I pleated and pressed them into the mould to achieve Jamie's rustic/ugly look... heh..don't misunderstand though. I LOVE rustic but this particular rustic was a bit to much for me.
Because I did not bake them upside down like Jamie did what I did was to take the shells out from the muffin tray, after they were baked through for about 15 minutes, placed them upside down, bottoms up, on a flat baking tray (lined) and baked them for a further 5 minutes to get them nice and crisp on the outside as Jamie's would have been the way he had baked them. It worked and the pastry was very tasty, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Oh but wait a minute...that was my puff pastry recipe! But the addition of sugar and cinnamon, and all rolled up made it better tasting, definitely. When they're done baking let them cool.
THE CUSTARD :
Jamie says its enough to fill 8 pastry cases. His cases must have been huge because I had plenty left over. Anyway I'm not too crazy about this custard really and neither were my sons. It wasn't sweet enough at all, in fact, almost bland so I actually added more honey but even that wasn't good enough. Perhaps it was me, but I did follow the recipe to the letter. I suppose it just didn't hit it with me. But here's the recipe anyway. I will give another recipe for a cooked-in-the-pot custard that I think is rather good, in another post, soon. I hope.
6 large eggs
4 dessertspoon runny honey
2 vanilla pods or 1 tsp vanilla extract I suppose
zest of 1 orange
565 ml/1 pint double cream
Whip up the eggs, honey, vanilla seeds and orange zest in a bowl. At the same time, in a thick bottomed pan, heat the cream until nearly boiling. Add it immediately to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl, while whipping fast with a wire whisk for 30 seconds. Add the mixture back to the pan on a medium heat, stirring continuously and using a spatula to get into the edges. This is a very quick and aggressive method of cooking a thick egg custard, so keep stirring until it is as thick as thick yoghurt then remove from heat and spoon it into your pastry cases and allow to cool. A skin will form on the top of each pie. Now make the caramel....
THE CARAMEL :
1 of Jamie's "big handful of sugar" or two of mine
3 tbsp of water
Place the sugar and water in a pan. Bring to the boil and gently agitate until golden brown. Dribble the mixture randomly over your custard tarts. It will bubble and cool to a crisp caramel. Done.
I just took a peek at them. I think they are beginning to grow on me. In a strange ugly way I'm starting to think they are quite pretty.