For my birthday last year, I skipped the traditional birthday cake. I went to my favorite bakery in Oakland Chinatown and bought a gazillion Hong Kong egg tarts for 80 cents a piece. I stacked them up and made myself a 3-tier egg tart "cake." I had the kids load the egg tarts with a bajillion candles, and we blew them out together. It was the best birthday "cake" ever.
Yes, I get or make my own birthday cake. That's the way I roll.
My birthday is, once again, right around the corner (@#$!#%^!). I'm having the same "cake" because I simply love Hong Kong egg tarts. I love the creamy custard filling and contrasting flaky crust. It's not too sweet. It's not too rich. It's just perfect.
Egg tarts are surprisingly simple to make. The filling is quick to throw together, and if you use a pre-made crust or frozen puff pastry, you can have egg tarts in under an hour from start to finish. I decided that Instead of the flaky puff pastry crust that is usually in Hong Kong egg tarts, I'll make a simple butter pie crust. A regular pie crust takes a lot less time than puffy pastry. The butter pie crust is not flaky, but if you roll it out thin, you can get a crispy crust, and a crispy crust is good enough for me. When a girl wants egg tarts, making puff pastry from scratch is just ludicrous!
This was great practice for me until April 16th when I attempt the 4-tier egg tart "cake". Hopefully next time, I don't get too eager and crank up the temperature for quicker cooking. That never helps, as illustrated above.
Super Simple Butter Pie/Tart Crust
Makes 9-inch pie crust, or 3 mini 5-inch pie crusts, or 9 tart crusts
1-1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
1-1/2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1/4 cup ice water
Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together flour, sugar, and salt.
Switch the whisk attachment with a bread hook, then slowly add ice water until dough forms and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
Roll out the dough to fit your pie or tart pan. Transfer to pie and tart pan then crimp the edges as desired.
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup hot water
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dissolve sugar in the hot water. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk vigorously together the eggs until light and foamy. Add the milk and vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
Add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk until combined.
Strain the mixture through a very fine mesh strainer. This is a very important step to get smooth custard.
Add the custard filling to your pie/tart pans.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until toothpick inserted at the center of the custard comes out clean (about 15-35 minutes depending on size)