Curd tarts were traditionally baked for Whitsuntide, when many Yorkshire villages held feasts and fair days. The filling was originally made from ‘beestings’, the first, very rich milk from newly calved cows, though nowadays it’s easier (and just as good) to use curd cheese. Rosewater is a classic flavouring.
- 150 g plain flour
- 1½ tbsp icing sugar
- 75 g cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1cm dice
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 20 ml (1 tbsp) cold water
- 50 g caster sugar
- 225 g curd cheese
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 medium egg yolks
- Finely grated zest of 1 Lemon
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 25 g unsalted butter, melted
- 50 g currants
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
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.
Resting time: 15 minutes
1. For the pastry, mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it in lightly with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, do this in a food processor or a mixer and then transfer to a bowl.
2. Mix the egg yolk with the lemon juice and water. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mix. Using a table knife, work the liquid into the flour to bring the pastry together. If it seems too dry, add a splash more water. When the dough begins to stick together, use your hands to gently knead it into a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 200°C/gas 6 and have ready a 20 cm loose-based sandwich cake tin, 2–3 cm deep.
4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about a 3 mm thickness and use it to line the tart tin, leaving excess pastry hanging over the edge. Keep a little uncooked pastry back in case you need to patch any cracks later.
5. Line the pastry case with baking parchment or foil, then fill with baking beans, or uncooked rice or lentils. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and baking beans and return the case to the oven for about 8 minutes or until the pastry looks dry and faintly coloured.
6. Use a small, sharp knife to trim away the excess pastry from the edge. Use a tiny bit of the reserved raw pastry to patch any cracks or holes if necessary. Turn the oven down to 180°C/gas 4.
7. To make the filling, beat together the sugar and curd cheese together until smooth, then beat in the eggs and egg yolks, lemon zest, rosewater and melted butter. Stir in the currants.
8. Pour the filling into the pastry case and grate a little nutmeg over the surface. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is just set. Leave to cool completely in the tin before slicing.