Never have I struggled with the thought of cooking something so badly.
I made a commitment to make my way through these recipe cards this year which, as you may have noticed, has slowed down in progress somewhat of late. I blame the weather – many of the yet to be tackled recipe cards feature seafood and salads and they’re just not the type of winter food cravings I have. There could also be the small issue of a recent lack of cooking inspiration/motivation as well. Each week I flip through the remaining cards and there really hasn’t been anything that jumps out at me with cause for excitement, motivating me to recreate it in the kitchen.
And then there was this – baked custard tart.
I love tarts. I love pastry, any pastry. I do not love custard. I can’t even say I like custard. Something about its texture and rich flavour which don’t appeal to me. I will consume it in small amounts but will avoid it if it’s the star of a dessert – for example, vanilla slices, crème brûlées, crème caramels… One of the few custard-based foods that will get my heart a-flutter is ice-cream, but we’ll talk about that another time.
In contrast to my aversion to custard is my love of Chinese egg tarts (‘daan taht’ 蛋撻). Some people are very firm about whether they belong to the puff pastry or shortcrust pastry camps, but I lust after both varieties so long as the pastry is made well and the filling not too sweet. Generally speaking, egg tarts made with shortcrust pastry keep better and are less greasy when reheated. Chinese custom, however, is to consume them as soon as they’re cool enough to handle from the oven so there’s not usually the issue of leftovers!
In Hong Kong, bakeries typically produce two batches of egg tarts a day – one mid-morning and another around 3pm in time for afternoon tea. I remember coming home from school and Mum would often have some egg tarts, still warm of course, sitting on the dinner table picked up during the afternoon run from the bakery down the road. That bakery only produced shortcrust pastry ones and trying to peel apart the layers of pastry was definitely an entertaining part of enjoying this simple pleasure of childhood.
The egg tarts pictured above are definitely my favourite shortcrust ones in Sydney and they’re from a small Hong Kong-style bakery down a short arcade in Eastwood. The pastry is crumbly and evenly-shaped around the edges as well as across the base. Buy four or more of these and you’ll receive them packaged in a box as shown. And yes, I did purchase four but one of them was eaten before it had a chance to grace the camera as a model!
Tai Baan Bakery (大班麵包餅店)
Shop 7, Eastwood Arcade (interconnecting Rowe St & Hillview Lane), 183 Rowe St, Eastwood NSW
Tel: (02) 9804 0168
Opening Hours: 7 days around 10am-6pm?