Merle Parrish is a legend in Australian baking circles – not only has she been baking [and winning] at country shows since a teenager but she has endeared herself as a judge on MasterChef Australia.
I received a copy of Merle’s Country Show Baking And Other Favourites in my day job as a journalist at The Leader newspaper, where I review cookbooks as part of My Hungry column.
I instantly loved the book as it is crammed full of nostalgic baking recipes.
The custard tart appealed as it is the Hungry Dad’s very favourite sweet treat. He is such a custard fancier that when we wee planning our wedding more than a decade ago he wanted to eschew cake in favour of custard. I declined.
Back to the recipe… Merle makes her pantry the old-fashioned way by hand but I cheated and pulled out my trusty KitchenAid food processor and made it that way. Purists would be shocked but it did the trick
1 ¼ cups plain flour
1 tablespoon icing sugar
90g chopped cold butter
2 tablespoons chilled water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups milk
LET’S GET TO IT:
Place icing sugar and plain flour in bowl of food processor and whiz for a few seconds. Add butter and mix until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, then add iced water and whiz until combined.
Between two sheets of baking paper roll out to line a pie dish (18cm and three cup capacity). Push gently up the sides then chill for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C, line pastry with baking paper and fill with dried rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove rice and paper and bake for another 10 minutes.
At this point Merle suggests brush pastry with egg white but I skipped this step, with no apparent misfortune.
Bake for another five minutes, until lightly golden, then cool completely.
To make filling whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.
Heat milk in small pan until it just comes to the boil then pour onto the egg mixture stirring constantly [do not whisk or it will become very frothy].
Place pie dish on baking tray then carefully pour egg mixture into pastry shell.
Sprinkle with nutmeg then bake for between 35-40 minutes – tart should be just set in centre yet have a slight wobble.