For the Short Crust Pastry:
5 oz. (150 g) all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting
pinch of salt
1 oz. (25 g) softened shortening
11/2 oz. (40 g) softened butter
For the Filling:
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 pint (570 ml) heavy cream
2 oz. (50 g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
11/2 whole nutmegs, freshly grated (or use ground nutmeg if you don't have whole nutmeg to grate)
1 tsp. butter, softened to room temperature
You will also need a 2 inch (5 cm) leaf cutter, a pie pan that has a rim and sloping sides (11/2 inches/4 cm deep, with a 7 inch/18 cm base and a 1/2 inch/1 cm rim), lightly greased, and a medium-sized baking sheet.
To Make the Pastry
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Sift the flour with the pinch of salt into a large bowl, holding the sifter up high to give it a good airing. Then add the shortening and butter and, using only your fingertips, lightly and gently rub the fat into the flour, again lifting the mixture up high all the time to give it a good airing.
When everything is crumbly, sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon of cold water. Start to mix the pastry with a knife and then finish off with your hands, adding a few more drops of water, until you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl clean. Then place the pastry into a plastic bag and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile place the baking sheet on center rack in preheated oven.
Roll the pastry out into a circle on a surface lightly dusted with flour, giving it quarter turns to keep its round shape; it's a good idea at this stage to put the pie pan lightly on top of the pastry – the size needs to be 1 inch (2.5 cm) bigger all round. Now transfer it, rolling it over the pin, to the pan, and press it lightly and firmly around the base, sides and rim. Now take a sharp knife and trim the overlapping pastry. Press the rim of the pastry so that about 1/4 inch (5 mm) overlaps the edge. Roll the trimmings and cut out about 24 leaves, making veins in them with the blunt side of the knife. Now brush the whole surface of the pastry crust with some of the beaten eggs, arranging the leaves all around the rim, overlapping them. Brush these, too, with beaten egg. Now prick the base of the tart with a fork, then place it on the baking sheet and bake on the center rack for 20 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden. Check after 4 minutes to make sure that the pastry isn't rising up in the center. If it is, prick it again a couple of times, pressing it back down with your hands. After 20 minutes, remove it from the oven, leaving the baking sheet there, and reduce the temperature to 325°F(170°C).
Place the cream in a saucepan and bring it up to a gentle simmer, then whisk the beaten eggs and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl using a balloon whisk – but not too vigorously because you don't want to make bubbles. Then pour the hot liquid over the beaten eggs, add the vanilla extract and half the nutmeg and whisk briefly again.
Place the pie pan back on the baking sheet with the oven rack half out and have ready the rest of the grated nutmeg on a piece of foil. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry crsut (it will be very full) and scatter the rest of the nutmeg all over, then dot with the softened butter and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the filling is golden brown, firm in the center and slightly puffed up. Serve either warm or as I like it, served cold.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Source: Cookbook author, Delia Smith
Date: February 27, 2003