For the pastry case
- 225g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- Pinch salt
- 65g icing sugar
- 125g lightly salted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 4-5 tsp cold water
For the filling
- 1 tsp saffron strands
- 100ml whole creamy milk or Jersey milk
- 500ml double cream
- 6 large free-range egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar, plus 4 tbsp for the brûlée topping
You’ll also need…
- 23cm x 4cm deep, loose-bottomed tart tin
- For the pastry, sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a food processor. Add the butter and process briefly until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg yolk briefly with 4 tsp water. Tip the crumbed mixture into a bowl and stir in the egg yolk/water mixture to bring the dough together into a ball (add the extra tsp cold water if it’s too dry). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes, then remove from the fridge and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Use the pastry to line the tart tin, then rest the pastry case in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Put a baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and heat it to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Line the pastry case with foil, fill with baking beans/uncooked rice, then bake, on the hot baking sheet, for 15-20 minutes until the edges are biscuit-coloured. Remove the foil and beans/rice, protect the edge of the case with thin strips of foil, then return it to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base is crisp and biscuit brown. Remove and leave to cool (leave the baking sheet in the oven). Turn the oven down to 140°C/120°C fan/gas 2.
- For the filling, heat a small, clean frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the saffron strands and toss them around for just a few seconds until they look very slightly darker. Tip them into a mortar, leave to cool and become brittle, then grind the strands into a fine powder with the pestle. Heat the milk in a small pan to almost boiling point, then pour it onto the saffron powder and stir well. Leave to cool.
- Pour the double cream into a clean pan and bring almost to the boil. Meanwhile, stir the egg yolks and 50g sugar in a bowl until just combined. Pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks, stirring gently with a whisk, then gently stir in the saffron milk (you don’t want to whisk a lot of air into the custard). Strain through a fine sieve into a large jug, then scrape off and discard any froth from the top with a spoon.
- Pull the rack out of the oven and put the pastry case onto the hot baking sheet. Pour in the crème brûlée mixture, then carefully slide the rack back in. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard mixture is softly set – it should still wobble slightly in the centre. Remove the tart from the oven and leave it to cool, then chill for at least 2 hours.
- To brûlée the top of the tart, sprinkle the remaining 4 tbsp caster sugar in a thick, even layer over the top of the custard. Hold the flame of a blow torch just above the surface and caramelise the sugar, moving it around until it’s evenly browned. Leave until the caramel has cooled and set before serving.
- If you don’t have a blow torch, either leave out the brûlée topping, or sprinkle the tart with the sugar, then slide under a hot grill. You’ll need to cover the pastry edges with strips of foil to prevent them burning while the sugar caramelises.
- Wrap the pastry dough in cling film and keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours or the freezer for up to 1 month.
Make the tart up to 24 hours in advance but omit the brûlée topping until you’re ready to serve. Keep the tart covered in the fridge, then let it come up to room temperature before sprinkling with the sugar and brûléeing the top.