David’s Fancy Custards


Series 10

These generous-sized tartlets would look perfectly at home in a posh pâtisserie. Top them with any seasonal fruits you choose. If you don’t have tart rings, make them in individual fluted tart cases.

Serves: 6
Difficulty: Needs skill
Hands-On Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Baking Time: 50 mins
  • Ingredients
  • Method
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Step 1
Make the pastry. Beat the flour, salt, icing sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with the beater, on medium speed until the mixture forms fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and 1–2 tablespoons of water and mix for 30 seconds, then bring the dough together, kneading by hand. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Step 2
Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a flour-dusted work surface until it is 4mm thick.

Step 3
Using the cake rings, cut 6 discs from the pastry, and then cut out 6 long, 4cm-wide pastry strips. Place the cake rings on a baking tray and add a disc of pastry in the bottom of each. Gather up the pastry trimmings into a ball and set aside.

Step 4
Mix the cornflour with ½ teaspoon of water and brush around the edge of each pastry base. Add a strip of pastry around the inside of each cake ring, press the seams together and trim the edges to neaten.

Step 5
Scrunch up each baking-paper square, then release and press one square into each tart tin. Fill with baking beans.

Step 6
Re-roll the pastry trimmings and cut out 6 lady-shaped biscuits using the template. Place these on the lined baking trays.

Step 7
Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, until lightly golden, then remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Blind bake the tart shells for 14 minutes, then remove the baking beans and bake for a further 10 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and place (in the cake rings) on a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/130°C fan/300°F/Gas 2.

Step 8
Make the custard. Pour the cream into a small pan over a medium heat and bring just to the boil. Beat the egg yolks, sugars and vanilla together with a wooden spoon, then gradually pour the cream over, while gently stirring. Transfer to a jug and pour into the pastry shells, filling to the brim. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until just set with a slight wobble in the centres.

Step 9
Make the royal icing. Whisk the egg white with a fork and slowly add the icing sugar, then beat with a spoon for 5 minutes, until glossy. Divide the mixture into 3 portions. Colour one portion a nude shade and spoon half of it into a piping bag fitted with a writing nozzle. Set the other half aside. Colour a second portion dark brown and leave the final portion white.

Step 10
Using the nude icing, pipe an outline of the lady on each biscuit, giving shape to her body and face, and an outline for her hair. Add a drop of water to the brown icing to give it a thick, pouring consistency, then spoon it into the hair area of the biscuits.

Step 11
Using a fine cake-decorating paintbrush and a tiny dot of red food colouring, paint on her lips. Place the biscuits in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out slightly, then add a few drops of water to the remaining nude icing to make it a thick pouring consistency and spoon it into the remaining area on each biscuit.

Step 12
Place the white icing in the remaining piping bag and pipe the hair band. Return the biscuits to the oven for 5 minutes, then allow to cool before using the paintbrush again to paint on the eyes, nose, chin and arms with black food colouring. Set aside.

Step 13
To make the glaze, mix the cornflour with half of the apple juice. In a small pan gently heat the sugar and remaining apple juice until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cornflour mixture to the pan and heat until slightly thickened. Add the glucose and simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and refrigerate to cool.

Step 14
Cut all the larger fruit into thin slices, as necessary, and arrange a selection of fruit on top of the tartlets, matching the colours. Spoon over a little glaze, then top with the biscuits just before serving.