If you love old-fashioned desserts, then you’ll love this classic custard tart recipe from CWA judge and MasterChef guest Merle Parrish, with crumbly, homemade pastry and a luscious vanilla-scented custard.

From Merle’s Country Show Baking and Other Favourites Copyright © Merle Parrish 2013 Reprinted by Permission of Random House Australia All Rights Reserved RRP $39.95 by Ebury Illustrated. Available now from bookstores and online retailers.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 30 minutes. Chilling time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes.



1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
90g cold butter, chopped
2 tbsp chilled water
1 egg white, lightly beaten


4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
nutmeg, to sprinkle


1. To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a butter knife until evenly moistened (add a tiny bit more water if necessary). Gather the dough together and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to line a pie dish (18cm base measurement, 3 cup capacity). Chill for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to moderate (180 C). Line the pastry with a piece of baking paper and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then take out the paper and beans and bake a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the inside of the pastry shell with egg white. Bake a further 5 minutes, until dry and lightly golden. Cool completely.

3. For the filling, whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a bowl. Heat the milk until it just comes to the boil, then pour onto the egg mixture, stirring constantly (don’t whisk or it will become frothy). Stand the pie dish on an oven tray, and pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell. Sprinkle the surface lightly with nutmeg. Bake for 40 minutes, until just set in the centre. It will still be a bit wobbly, but will firm up as it cools.

What’s your favourite old-fashioned dessert?