Old Fashioned Egg Custard Tarts
Old Fashioned Egg Custard Tarts (or egg custards) are a classic British pastry that are simply a homemade, flaky pastry filled with egg, custard, a sprinkling of nutmeg and then baked.
A wonderful home baked treat that is a great use for any eggs that may be expiring, eggs you just need to use up or your eggs came home broken from grocery shopping.
Interestingly, I recently learned that these tarts are also popular in China and Portugal. There is an age old debate as to who invented them first. But being British, of course, I like to say the Brits came up with this delicious treat because they’ve been around since the medieval times and that’s good enough for me!
Different custard types
There are 2 different custard types, baked and stirred, baked custards are typically firmer than stirred and (like this recipe) are baked in the oven and set from the heat. Common examples of baked custards are crème caramel (also known as flan), crème brûlée, cheesecake, bread pudding, pot de crème, quiche and savory flans.
Stirred custards, such as the one I use in Rhubarb and Custard Spring Orange Custard and Hot English Custard Over Frozen Berries are typically soft and most often have a pourable consistency; however, depending on the ingredients used, they can also be quite thick (tart filling). Once made, stirred custards are also often combined with other ingredients to form a variety of other desserts and to create unique flavors and fillings.
All custards contain the same basic ingredients: eggs and/or egg yolks, a liquid and flavorings. Depending on the type of custard, some may also require a starch.
Over time, they have become a popular ‘grab-and-go’ dessert that are sold in bakeries and grocery stores in the UK.
This recipe is a traditional, family recipe from my childhood in England when my mum would make a Sunday afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and these must-have pastries.
Vanilla in custard
Custard flavors can be customized by adding citrus or extract. Vanilla being the most popular flavor to add to custards, you will see that I list it as optional in the recipe as I don’t normally add it to this recipe as the nutmeg is the dominant flavor. You can add vanilla if you like.
Custard is a very popular dessert in the British isles and not only comes in the form of tarts, but is also served as a hot sauce called ‘English Custard’ which is served over sweet pies, puddings and another classic, Rhubarb and Custard.
A popular and modern twist on this recipe is to serve just the custard that is baked in small ramekins without any pastry. This would be perfect for a low carb/keto treat.
I choose to make these in individual sizes because I love the crust edge. But this recipe is customizable because you can also make it into a larger 9-inch (23 cm) tart. Bake at 400°F/200°C for 20 minutes then turn the oven down to 350°F/176°C (if you see it browning too soon, turn it down sooner) then bake for a further 10 minutes until the pasty is browned and the custard is set but will still have a slight wobble in the center. This will firm when it is cool. Times are estimated and will depend on your oven.
The mini tart pans/molds that I used are fluted, which give them a pretty presentation and measure 2 3/4” (7cm) wide by 3/4” (2cm) high. If you use molds that are deeper, you will run out of filling as the recipe yields just enough for this specified size.
How long do custard tarts keep?
They will keep up to 3 days refrigerated in a sealed container.
You can freeze them, individually wrapped. The custard may separate and the moisture may make the pastry a little soggy.
If you’ve made these Old Fashioned Egg Custard Tarts, please feel free to leave a comment below. You can also ask a question there too, I love to hear from my readers!