"Another colonial legacy from the British, Hong Kong-style egg tarts are big in Kuala Lumpur. It’s thought they were first baked in the 1940s by local coffee houses and over time they’ve become a sweet staple, with everyone having their own favourite bakery. Some use lard in their pastry (therefore they’re not halal) and others butter or margarine. Some are sweeter than others and some bakers slip a bit of ginger into the silky, smooth, custard-y filling. But my favourites are the ones from Bunn Choon in Imbi Market, where they’ve been making them since 1893." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia
It will come as no surprise that silky, smooth custard-y tarts reign supreme in Hong Kong. How could they not!
- 125 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 50 g icing sugar, sifted
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g (1⅓ cups) plain flour, sifted
- 25 g cornflour, sifted
- 70 g caster sugar
- 150 g hot water
- 2 eggs
- 75 ml evaporated milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Using electric beaters on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar for 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed to low, then gradually add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the sifted flours and mix for another 2 minutes or until well combined. Turn off the mixer and knead the dough in the bowl until smooth.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 5 mm-thick. Using a 9 cm cookie cutter, stamp out 12 rounds, then use to line 12 x 7 cm-wide, 4 cm-deep tart tins. Lightly press the dough into the tins with your thumbs, then use two fingers to shape the edges. Trim away any excess dough. Place on a baking tray and refrigerate while you make the custard.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
To make the custard, place the sugar and hot water in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the evaporated milk and vanilla extract, then slowly pour in the sugar water and mix well. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and discard any lumps. Remove the tart shells from the fridge, then divide the egg mixture equally among them. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges become lightly golden and the custard has risen slightly. Reduce the temperature to 180°C and bake for another 10 minutes or until the custard is just cooked through.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok.