Lemon Custard Tarts

Custard isn't something I've ever really enjoyed. Even before I was vegan, I always found the taste and texture to be too egg-like, too stodgy, too clumpy. Something that I'm sure I would've enjoyed however - the indulgent creme patissiere - was only introduced to me after I'd transitioned to a vegan diet, but I've always wanted to create something similar that's more to my taste. My Lemon Custard Tarts are creamy yet light, with a mild lemon flavour throughout that works beautifully with the crumbly tart cases. I'm very excited to share this recipe with you all, and hope you love it as much as I do!

These little morsels would make a welcome addition to a kitchen tea, morning tea, birthday party or special occasion. You can make one large pie if you like, or multiple small ones like I did. This recipe makes between 8 and 12 mini ones, depending on the size of your cases.

You can make the tart cases in advance, storing the cooked or uncooked dough in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use. Use the uncooked dough within 24 hours and the cooked cases within five days. Frozen pastry will last at least a month.

A final note: don't worry if your pastry are a bit messy. I like mine more rustic in appearance, but if you'd prefer a neater tart take care to cut the dough evenly and work with cold hands.

Ingredients for the pastry

  • 335g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tbs caster sugar
  • 185g vegan butter
  • 50g vegetable shortening or hard coconut oil
  • 60ml cold water
  • 15ml vodka

Ingredients for the custard

  • 210ml soy milk
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 30g plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tbs cornflour mixed with 1/2 tbs water until smooth
  • 1/2 tbs vegan butter, melted
  • 60ml fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbs lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbs vegan cream
  • Fresh raspberries, to taste

Instructions for the pastry

  • Combine flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and mix and set aside a large pie tin.
  • Add butter and shortening and rub with your fingertips to create thick crumbs (different sizes are okay!).
  • Slowly add water and vodka and mix until dough comes together. Don't over mix.
  • Place dough on cling wrap or baking paper, wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour. If you leave it overnight longer, you'll need to let it rest on the bench until it's warm enough to handle. It should be cold but not hard.
  • Once rested, roll out dough, then cut into one large circle or multiple smaller ones, depending on how many tarts you're making.
  • Preheat oven to approximately 190 degrees Celsius and set aside 1 large pie tin or multiple small ones.
  • Place into prepared case(s) and bake for between 20-35 minutes. You'll know the case(s) is/are done when it is/they are browned and firm to the touch. Try not to overbake! 
  • Meanwhile, make the custard.

Instructions for the custard

  • Pour milk, sugar, essence into a small saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Cook, stirring regularly, until mixture starts to bubble but before it boils. This should take around 5 minutes.
  • Slowly add flour, mixing as you go, then add the cornflour mixture, butter, juice, zest and cream and whisk vigorously for 1 minute.
  • Remove from the heat and continue whisking until smooth. If you have lumps, use an immersion blender to smooth them out.
  • Pour hot custard into your cooled cases, top with raspberries (optional) and place in the refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour.
  • Serve cold.

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