I had first seen it being prepared on t.v. - probably on Market Kitchen - and it piqued my interest then. Upon first hearing "curd tart", one instantly thinks of lemon curd. Or you do if you're me. In fact, it is made from the curds of milk that has been split by the use of lemon juice. There you are, you see, instantly it's got your attention.
Now I have, in my family, two chaps who are as opposed to cottage cheese as it is possible for a chap to get. So, when I knew the type of curds we were talking about, I was a teensy bit concerned. However, my curiosity won over my cautiousness and I booked it in to prepare for dessert following our Sunday roast.
The making of it is, of necessity, a two-day operation. I had no real expectation of how it would turn out. I suspected that it would be of a heavy-ish, sort of custard-ish consistency, although what gave it a flavour - or any flavour - I wasn't too sure.
The actuality far outweighed these indistinct expectations. The pastry was light, crisp and as short as you could get. The filling was creamy, light but rich, buttery and with the occasional currant which appeared as out of the mist, to add a rich fruitiness. In short, completely and utterly delicious - and worth every moment of it's creation.
I am going to have to make one of these the next time we're eating with my parents. My Mum would be so proud of the pastry, quite apart from anything else. *chuckle*
|Fresh from the oven|
For the pastry
140g plain flour
pinch of baking powder
45g salted butter
1 tsp caster sugar
For the filling
1.2l full fat gold top or Jersey milk
juice of 1 lemon
50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten (a lovely bright yolk is good, as it helps with the overall colour)
1. Make the pastry & curd the night before. To make the pastry, blend the flour, baking powder, butter and sugar in a food processor until the butter is almost all combined. A few small lumps of butter will lighten the dough.
Then add a little cold water until it comes together as a smooth, but not sticky, dough.
Tip out onto a work surface and knead lightly, wrap in cling film and place into the fridge.
2. To make the curd, heat the milk in a large pan. As it comes to a gentle simmer, add the lemon juice. Turn the heat to low and gently stir while the curds form. Do not stir too vigorously, or you will break up the curds.
Once the milk resembles liquid with creamy lumps, remove the pan from the heat and allow the curds to cool in the whey.
One cooled, drain into a clean tea towel or cheesecloth and leave to drain overnight. The whey can be saved for use making scones or anything for which you require buttermilk.
3. The next day, roll out the pastry and line a 20cm shallow pie dish or tart tin. Line with greaseproof paper and baking beans, then part-bake for 25 mins at 180deg C. Remove the greaseproof and beans and allow to cool a little.
4. To finish the filling, beat the butter and sugar until soft, then add the egg a little at a time. Add the curds to the mixture and lightly whisk to break up any large curds. Once blended, add the currants then fill the pastry case.
5. Add a light sprinkling of nutmeg to the top, then bake at 160deg C fan/180deg C/gas 4 for around 30 minutes or until the filling has risen and coloured a little.
Leave to cool, then serve on it's own or with a drizzle of cream. Fabulous!