Egg tart or egg custard tart (called dan tat in Cantonese) is a type of pastry commonly found in England, Portugal, Hong Kong and many south east Asian countries. It has an external pastry crust with wobbly egg custard filling and baked. Egg tart is the much loved dim sum dessert not only in Hong Kong but is consumed in Chinese restaurants all over the world. Yum cha will not be complete without having a nice warm egg tart at the end of the meal.
There are two main types of pastry crust for egg tarts, the short crust pastry or puff pastry, customarily made with lard instead of butter or shortening. Both types of pastries are filled with egg custard that has more eggs and less cream than the English custard tarts. For my gluten free recipe, I adapted the short crust pastry version made with gluten free all-purpose baking flour, gluten free corn (maize) flour, xanthan gum, egg, icing sugar, salt and all vegan non-dairy buttery spread (Nuttelex Buttery). Then the tart shells are filled with egg custard made from eggs, rice milk, vanilla extract and caster sugar. These egg tarts are not only gluten free, they are also vegetarian,dairy free, soy free and nut free.
The egg tarts originated from Guangzhou in the 1920s in the Guangzhou province of China. It was introduced into Hong Kong during the 1940s. Egg tart is an adaptation of the English custard pie, it is a fusion of Cantonese and British cuisines. There are 3 basic types of egg tarts, the Hong Kong style egg tarts, Portuguese egg tarts (Pastel de nata) and coconut tarts. Nowadays, egg tarts come in many varieties, including chocolate tarts, ginger flavoured egg, honey eggs, green tea (matcha powder) flavoured tarts and many more.
Chinese Egg Tarts (Hong Kong Style)
For the Pastry
- 400 g 14oz gluten free all-purpose plain flour (Orgran)
- 50 g 2oz gluten free corn (maize) flour
- 250 g 9oz all vegan non-diary buttery spread (Nuttelex Buttery) or any vegan butter
- 30 g 1oz gluten free icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon gluten free xantham gum
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- Gluten free flour for dusting work surface
For the Custard
- 6 large eggs
- 75 g 3oz caster sugar
- 2 ⅔ cup rice milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Shallow muffin pans
- Fine sieve
For the pastry:
- Sift the gluten free all-purpose flour and gluten free corn (maize) flour into a large mixing bowl and mix well. Then sprinkle in the xanthan gum and add Nuttelex Buttery or unsalted butter into the mixture and rub the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- Add the icing sugar, egg and 1 tablespoon water, gently knead to a soft dough (do not over knead). Add another 1 tablespoon water if dough is too dry and a bit more gluten free flour if dough is too wet. Divide the dough into 2 portions, wrap each portion in cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Remove one portion of the dough after chilling for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- Dust work surface and rolling pin with gluten free flour. Roll the dough to 1 cm thickness. Then cut the tart bases with a round cookie cutter to size just slightly smaller than the shallow muffin pan. Place dough in the middle of the pan, press the dough into the pan with your thumbs, starting from the bottom and then the sides. Ensure that the tart shells are even in thickness. Repeat with the second portion of the dough.
For making the custard:
- Warm up the rice milk in a pot on low heat and add in the caster sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not bring the rice milk to a boil. Let it cool to room temperature.
- Whisk the eggs with the rice milk and mix well.
- Strain the egg mixture through a very fine sieve to remove any bubbles from the egg mixture. This step is essential for a silky smooth egg custard.
For baking the tarts:
- Preheat fan-forced oven to 160C or 320F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of your oven.
- Carefully pour the egg mixture into each tart shell until nearly reaching the edges of the tart shell.
- Instantly and gently place the pan into the oven and bake the tarts in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the egg custard is baked through. You can test by inserting a toothpick into the egg custard, if it is standing and no egg mixture is sticking to the tooth pick, the filling is ready.
- To prevent the egg custards from rising too high, when the egg custard start to puff up, pull open the oven door for about 2 to 3 inches for around 1 minute to settle down the egg custard. Otherwise the egg custards will collapse when cooled quickly.
- Let the egg tarts cool a little after removing from the oven and serve.
Disclosure Statement: I am NOT paid by Nuttlelex or Orgran for this post!