James Wills' Classic Custard Tart

James Wills' Classic Custard Tart

Chef James Wills described his recipe as using the simplest ingredients to create something timeless and rewarding. This special dessert or tea time treat is perfect for Mother’s Day and Easter. For the best flavour use local free range eggs, and source fresh full fat milk from local dairies and vending machines in farm shops. Serve with seasonal fruit – James suggests rhubarb for March. Soft summer fruits would also work well.

Custard Tart with Rhubarb and Nutmeg

For the pastry
250g softened butter
150g caster sugar
2 local free range eggs
500g plain flour

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs and a little flour. Add the rest of the flour; season and bring together in a doughy crumbly ball. Push together but don’t overwork. Divide into two, cling film and rest overnight.
Bring to room temperature and roll into a sheet the thickness of a pound coin.
Lne a tart ring set on a heavy tray lined with trimmed parchment paper.  Rest and chill for minimum 30 minutes.
Blind bake at 160c for around 20-30 mins. Plug any gaps with pastry and egg wash with yolk, finishing off in the oven.  Allow to cool. Drop the oven to 100c.

For the custard

700ml double cream
300ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod, scraped
250g local free range egg yolks
160g caster sugar
1 nutmeg

Heat the cream and milk to a simmer with the vanilla pod and seeds.
Whisk the yolks with the sugar then pour in the cream mix a little at a time.
Allow to stand for a few minutes then skim and pass through a chinois strainer.
Skim again and pour into the tart case. Cook at 100c for 50mins or so, until it wobbles slightly but will set when cool. Grate fresh nutmeg over the tart while it is still warm, using a nutmeg grater.
Allow to cool down but do not refrigerate. Trim the edges of the pastry but keep the ring on until serving.

For the rhubarb

150g forced rhubarb
100ml orange juice
70ml water
30g sugar 

Cut the rhubarb into small batons and place in a small baking dish.
Dissolve the liquids together with the sugar and gently heat. When warm pour over the rhubarb and bake for 15-20mins at 150c until slightly soft but not destroyed. Gently lift out and brush with some of the cooking syrup.

To serve, cut the tart carefully, place on a plate with a pile of the rhubarb.

Find out more about James Wills and Blackboard Canteen HERE - in our series on chefs.


Source local from Hampshire Fare members. For example visit independent delis, farm shops, village stores and Southern Coops. Local free range eggs include Beechwood Eggs, Cheyney Farming Pantry, Claytons Eggs, Fluffetts Free Range Eggs, and Vale Farm Free Range Eggs. Full fat milk can be found at Hiltonbury Jerseys and Dandys Ford Dairy, stocked in 108 The Bakery, Romsey.