Lemongrass & kaffir lime custard tarts

Tart, custard, pastry, classic, Kaffir, lemongrass, lime, fusion, Thai, British, cooking, food, foodie, philipfriend, best home cook, Philip friend, recipe, ingredients, baking

This is a British classic with a twist: sweet, buttery almond and lime pastry with a delicately set flavoured custard filling.

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I like to serve these tarts to give a real flavour surprise: as people bite into them, anticipating the classic British egg custard tart (a creamy, sweet custard with a burst of nutmeg), they get hit with the unexpected kick of lemongrass and kaffir lime.

While the kaffir lime and lemongrass are not at all traditional in British egg custard tarts, they give an exciting spin on this classic. If you want the classic egg custard tart, though, simply omit the kaffir lime and lemongrass.

The pastry is an adaptation of a Paul Hollywood sweet pastry. I have also added lime zest to it to be more in keeping with the filling. The pastry is easiest and quickest made in a food processor but you can make it by hand using the rubbing in method. However, for even easier tarts, you can use bought shortcrust pastry.

For the filling, I use the larger “double” kaffir limes. 3 of them gives a good flavour punch here, but you can reduce to 1 for a more subtle flavour.

I occasionally vamp these up further by spooning over some finely diced mango that has been mixed with lime juice and a small amount of chopped mint: it gives a fruit tart vibe and is also delicious.

Which tins to use?

Classically these tarts are made in deep tins, such as muffin tins – for which you need a cutter of about 10-11cm diameter – but if you don’t have a large enough cutter you can use the largest you’ve got and gently ease the pastry up to the rim.

However, you can use also shallower tins (such as mince pie tins) for the smaller tartlets – as in the photo above. In which case use cutters that are around 7cm diameter. These tins are also easier to line with the pastry – and you get more small tarts.

Recipe: lemongrass & kaffir lime custard tarts – makes about 12

  • 140g plain flour
  • 20g ground almonds
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 medium egg
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large lemongrass stalk
  • 3 double-leaved kaffir lime leaves (as in photo above)
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg to finish

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan)

(1) Make the pastry: add the flour, almonds, sugar, butter, lime zest and egg yolk into a food processor. Pulse gently to help it form a soft but not sticky dough. You can add a teaspoon or so of water if needed.

(2) Remove from the food processor bowl, wrap it up and chill for at least an hour or until needed.

(3) Make the lemongrass and kaffir lime infusion for the custard: finely chop the kaffir lime or lemongrass. For even more flavour, blitz in a food processor to get them really broken up.

(4) Add the kaffir lime and lemongrass to a pan, along with the milk and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring from time to time.

(5) Once the milk is at boiling point, turn off the heat, place a lid on and leave to cool fully: this will ensure a lot of flavour from the lemongrass and kaffir lime is imparted.

(6) Line the tins with pastry: roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and cut out discs with a large fluted or plain cutter (10-11cm diameter).

(7) Place into the tins, gently pressing them into the base and easing them up to the rim if needed. Pop into the fridge while you make the custard.

(8) Make the custard filling: place the egg yolks and sugar into a bowl. Whisk together with a balloon whisk for a few moments to break down the egg yolks and start to dissolve the sugar.

(9) Warm up the milk mixture – this time to just below boiling point. Pass through a sieve into the bowl of egg yolk and sugar. Use the back of a spoon to squeeze out as much milk as you can from the lemongrass and kaffir lime, to get maximum flavour.

(10) Whisk together and pour into a large jug – you want one that can pour easily without dripping. Cover and leave for about 10 minutes to cool a little.

(11) Fill the pastry shells: pour the custard mixture slowly and carefully into the pastry shells, coming almost to the top. Finish with a generous grating of nutmeg.

Note: if you have any pastry and custard left, you can make smaller tarts or simply bake the custard mixture in ramekins – see Variations, below.

(12) Bake: place the tins carefully into the oven for 15 minutes at 160°C (fan) for 15 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 130°C fan and cook for a further 10 minutes – you should see a deep golden-brown pastry rim and the custard should still have a bit of a wobble. Cool in the tins before removing carefully with a knife.


For shallow tarts:
– Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out using a 7cm cutter. Line mince pie tins with the pastry and pour in the custard mixture almost to the top.

– Dust with nutmeg and bake at 150°C for about 15 minutes -make sure the custard still has a wobble. Cool in the tins.

For classic set custards in ramekins:
– Pour the custard into ramekins and place in a roasting tray. Pour boiling water into the tray, coming almost to the top of the ramekins (in line with the custard depth).

– Dust with nutmeg and bake at 130°C (fan) for 25 minutes, before removing from oven and letting them cool fully in their water bath.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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