Mmmmm. Little Miss 4's second weekend baking request centred around the fact she and Poppa have a shared love of Custard Squares. She's such a kind soul, always wanting to share with her friends and family, so it made perfect sense that she should visit the farm and bake something for Nana and Poppa; needless to say we all enjoyed this sweet treat, and Nana was pleased that Poppa, and his waist line, didn't eat too many of them all by himself.
Since the farm is quite isolated - its a half hour drive to the nearest supermarket - we couldn't nip out for supplies, so I made the pastry and the custard the old fashioned way. I modified my standard Pastry Cream recipe and found a general purpose pastry recipe in Edna Lowe's Ashburton Women's Division of Federated Farmers cookbook. It's my go to cook book for a guaranteed traditional recipes.
Edna Lowe's Flaky Pastry
1 large cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 200Deg. C.
Rub the butter into the sifted dry ingredients. Mix in approximately 3 tablespoons of cold water to form a stiff dough.
Press the dough into a ball and turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Roll and fold three times, then wrap and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.
Roll out thinly into a large triangle.
Cut into two equal sized pieces and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Pastry Cream Custard
2 free-range eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups milk
Whisk the eggs and sugar until pale, fluffy and doubled in volume. It should look just like you were making a sponge. Mix in the vanilla, flour and cornflour.
Boil the milk.
While stirring the egg mixture with a whisk, add a third of the milk to the egg mix bowl. Stir to combine, then add the other two thirds and mix well.
Always add the milk to the eggs and blend the 3rd in first to prevent the heat of the milk cooking the egg mix too quickly.
Clean the bottom of the milk pot and return the custard to the pan.
Stir constantly over a medium heat until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. Take from the heat and pour the custard into a bowl. Stir from time to time to aid cooling.
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons hot water
enough icing sugar to form a firm icing - 1 to 2 cups
1/3 cup coconut
Melt the butter in the hot water and blend in the icing sugar. If the icing is too stiff, just add a little more water. The coconut is for sprinkling on the icing once it is spread on the assembled custard square.
Assembling the Custard Square:
Lay the first layer of pastry onto a large board. Pour the still warm custard onto the pastry and spread evenly to cover.
Top with the second layer of pastry.
Spread the icing onto the top of the custard square and sprinkle with coconut.
Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two to allow the custard and icing to set.
I used an electric knife to slice into squares.
If there is any left over, store it in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 2 days - I'm sure that wont be too difficult to arrange.
If time is short - and it often is - substitute a store brought pastry and you will have this sweet treat made in no time.
One happy little tea lady complete with tea wagon.