Ingredients

FOR THE PASTRY
210g (7½oz/1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
60g (2¼oz/scant ½ cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
130g (4¾ oz/½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
1 egg, separated
2–3 tablespoons ice-cold water
FOR THE CUSTARD
250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) milk
300ml (10½ fl oz/generous 1¼ cups) double (heavy) cream
8 fresh bay leaves
7 egg yolks
100g (3½oz/½ cup) caster (granulated) sugar

There are quite a few custard-based recipes in this book, such is my love for the stuff in all of its glorious forms. And nothing quite beats a classic custard tart. Just infusing the cream with a few fresh bay leaves transforms this into something quite fragrant and almost tea-like. Bay leaves are an ingredient that tend to get thrown into a stew or soup without knowing what it actually tastes like. It’s not necessarily a flavour a lot of people could identify on its own. But here, woven into the silky custard, it sings. Fresh bay is a must here to really get the best flavour.

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Instructions

1.Add the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have fine breadcrumbs. (If making by hand, rub the butter into the flour until fine.)
2.Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of ice-cold water and pulse until it starts to clump, adding more water, a tablespoon at a time, if needed.
3.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a thick disc.
4.Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until well chilled and firm.
5.Meanwhile, make the custard. Add the milk, cream and bay leaves to a small saucepan and heat gently until steaming, just before the boil.
6.Remove from the heat, cover and let the cream infuse for 30 minutes–1 hour.
7.Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan/375°F/gas mark 5).
8.Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to 3–4mm (⅛in) thick.
9.Line a 20-cm (8-in) tart pan or loose-bottomed cake pan with the pastry, making sure to press the pastry evenly into the edges and leaving an overhang of pastry around the rim.
10.Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork, then pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
11.Once chilled, use a small, sharp knife to trim off the overhanging pastry to give a neat crust.
12.Scrunch up a piece of baking paper, open it out again and use it to line the inside of the tart.
13.Fill with baking beans or uncooked rice and blind bake for 20 minutes.
14.Carefully remove the baking beans and paper and continue to bake for another 15–22 minutes, until the edges have browned and the base is firm to the touch.
15.Brush the base with a little bit of the egg white and put back in the oven for 2 minutes – this will help create a seal for the custard. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
16.Reduce the oven to 150°C (130°C fan/300°F/gas mark 2).
17.To finish the custard, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until combined.
18.Strain the bay leaves from the saucepan and return the cream to the pan. Gently bring to the boil.
19.Pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking to combine, then pass the custard through a fine sieve (strainer) to catch any little lumps.
20.Pour half of the custard into the pastry shell and skim off and discard any foam on the top.
21.Place the tart on a baking sheet and into the oven.
22.Pour in the rest of the custard and bake for 30–40 minutes until just set with a jelly-like wobble in the middle.
23.Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
24.Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This is an edited extract
from A Good Day to Bake
by Benjamina Ebuehi,
published by Quadrille
Publishing, RRP $45.00.
Available in stores
nationally. Photography
by Laura Edwards.

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