I first fell in love with curd tarts when I was hitching around the UK quite a few years ago. Because I was a bit short on money, I spent most of my food budget in bakeries, discovering quite a few regional specialties, including this Yorkshire favourite. You can bake this as a large, thin tart if you like, but I kind of enjoy the individual tarts, maybe because it makes me a little nostalgic.
- 1 litre milk
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) white wine vinegar
- 80 g unsalted butter, softened
- 80 g caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg (ideally freshly grated)
- ½ lemon, zested
- 50 g currants, soaked in a little brandy fora few hours or overnight
- 175 g plain flour
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 100 g unsalted butter, chilled, diced
- 1 egg, beaten
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.
Soaking time 2 hours
Chilling time 30 minutes
To make pastry, place flour, a pinch of salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Alternatively, pulse in a food processor. You’re aiming to fairly evenly distribute the butter, so the flour is not dissimilar in appearance to breadcrumbs. Add the egg, mixing together (using the end of a spoon or knife at first) until an even dough forms. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring milk to the boil in a saucepan over high heat, then remove from heat and stir in vinegar, stirring twice quickly to distribute vinegar. Set aside undisturbed for 20 minutes or until curd rises to the top.
Meanwhile, using electric beaters, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Whisk in the egg, then fold in the nutmeg, lemon zest and currants.
Drain curd gently through a fine piece of muslin or a clean Chux cloth held over a bowl, discarding runny whey. When curd is cool, fold gently through the butter mixture.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface, then use to line 10 x 5 cm lightly greased mini tart dishes or similar. Line pastry with baking paper and fill with baking weights or uncooked beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove baking weights and paper, and cook for a further 5 minutes or until pastry is light golden and dry. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Increase oven temperature to 200°C. Spoon curd mixture into pastry shells, then return to oven and bake for 10 minutes or until tops are starting to colour. Remove from oven and cool before turning out. Serve sour curd tarts the same day of baking.
Photography Alan Benson