Happy weekend guys. After a bit of a break from baking, I decided that I would love to make something sweet again and so I made some vegan custard tarts, which I hope you’ll enjoy. The idea for these has been banging around in my head for at least a year and I kept on de-prioritising it for some reason. I don’t know why…as they are delicious and easy to make too!
I love creating sweet recipes, but the trouble is that I suffer from a complete lack self-control when my fridge is full of cake and that’s why I sometimes have to hit pause, to reset myself. What happens is that I vow to only have one but then the shoot isn’t going my way or I mess a slice up when cutting it for the camera and so I end up having that offcut too and then another and another and soon enough I’ve overdone it and I feel terrible about myself.
With the help of my therapist, I am trying to rewire my brain as not being around cake is not a viable solution when you have a job like mine. I try to catch myself when reaching for sweet food when I have already had a portion and strengthen the muscle of saying ‘no, you don’t need it. Food isn’t going to help you manage unpleasant feelings of boredom / frustration / sadness / anger’. Instead of eating mindlessly, I sit down and write down how I feel instead. Vent at a blank page if you will until the strong desire to stuff my face dissipates. It has not been perfect, I did have one big slip-up this month, but I have made a lot of progress already and I feel like real change is happening. It feels great to be more in control again.
Next week, me and Duncan are taking a bit of time off away from the civilisation. We rented a cute little cottage in the heart of the Brecon Beacons and as we plan to do a lot of walking, we are really hoping that the torrential rain forecast will change and we won’t be stuck indoors for 4 days. Fingers crossed.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and xantham gum (if using a gluten-free flour mix instead of an all purpose wheat flour) in a large bowl or a food processor. If using maple syrup instead of sugar, mix it in with 30 ml / 2 tbsp of cold water and add it at the end.
Add chopped coconut oil and cut it into the flour using a pastry cutter (or two knives) or pulse in a food processor until you obtain a sandy texture that clumps together when you grab a handful, with no large lumps of fat left. To check for large lumps, shake the bowl – it will bring large bits of oil to the surface.
While you can do this step in a food processor, I strongly suggest you transfer the mixture to a large bowl at this point and do this manually as then you have a greater amount of control. Slowly and very gradually trickle in some ice cold water, incorporating it into the flour using a fork. Keep going until the dough is moist enough that it can be brought together by hand – clump a bit of mixture with your hand, if it sticks together (without being wet!) you’ve added enough water. I used 45 ml / 3 tbsp of water, but please go through the process I described above instead of just adding the amount I added as different flour brands have different absorbency levels.
Empty your bowl (or a food processor bowl) onto a work surface and bring all the dough together using your hands, but do not knead (overworking the dough will make the pastry tough). Form the dough into a flattened disc, wrap it up in cling film and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling (see below).
After the dough has had a chance to rest, divide it into 8 equal portions. Gently and slowly roll each portion of the dough out on a lightly floured surface. You may want to do it between two sheets of baking paper as it stops the dough sticking to the bench. When it comes to gluten-free dough, you may find it easier to simply mould it to the inside of the tart tins with your fingers.
Preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F (160° C / 320° F fan forced).
Roll the dough out as thin as possible. Line the case with the dough making sure the dough fits into all the nooks and crannies snugly. Trim the excess with a sharp knife and then go over the edge and tidy it up with your finger tips. Proceed in the same manner with the remaining cases. Use the cutoffs from the first 8 cases to cover the remaining 2 so that you have 10 custard tart cases in total.
Cut 10 squares of baking paper that are big enough to line the inside of the tart cases. Scrunch up each paper square with your hands to soften it and then line each tart case with it, fill up with baking beads (rice or dry beans). Place on a large baking tray and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Take the tray out of the oven, remove the paper lining and the baking beads and bake for another 5 minutes.
Fill each pre-baked case with the custard and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Allow the custard to cool down completely before serving / eating.
Dust with freshly grated nutmeg before serving, if you like.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You could also freeze them.
CUSTARD FILLING (make a day ahead for best results)
It’s best to make this custard a day ahead and allow it to thicken in the fridge overnight. Otherwise, you may want to add 2 tsp of tapioca to the blender to thicken the mixture.
Place all the filling ingredients in a blender and blend until silky smooth. I used a Ninja blender here. If you are using an upright blender, you may need to double the ingredients if the blender struggles with this little mixture.
*To bake a sweet potato: set the oven to 200° C / 390° F and grab a small baking tray. Pierce the potato with a skewer in several places and place it on a baking tray. Bake for about 40-50 minutes (depending on the size), until the knife slides right in.