Custard tarts really are the food of and queens. They were served at Henry IV’s coronation in 1399 and more recently at Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday in 2006. In medieval times the tarts (also known as doucetes and darioles) could include pork too – dinner and pudding in one! Custard recipes go back to Roman times.

This version is delicious, but extremely rich. Treat yourself to a moderate slice (rather than the robust slices I ate). You’ll find that it still works well if you reduce the sugar content.


For the pastry:

  • 225g Flour
  • 150g Butter
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • 2 Egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt

For the filling:

  • 9 Egg yolks
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • 500ml Whipping cream
  • 2 Nutmegs


  • STEP 1

    Preheat oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Add salt, lemon zest and butter to the flour and mix between fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

  • STEP 2

    Add sugar, then the beaten egg and extra yolk, and form into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm, chill in a fridge for 1-2 hours, then roll out on a floured surface to 2mm thick.

  • STEP 3

    Use the pastry to line an 18cm flan ring, placed on a baking tray, and cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans. Bake for 10 mins or until pastry starts to go golden brown. Remove, then cool. Reduce oven to 130°C/gas mark 1.

  • STEP 4

    Bring the cream to the boil. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks with sugar and mix in the cream. Fill the pastry case to the brim and grate nutmeg on top. Bake for 30–40 mins or until set. Allow to cool.

Recipe courtesy of Great British Chefs. For a medieval version of the same recipe see Cook's Info

This article was first published in the November 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine