I’ve always enjoyed a brisk early morning walk with my friend Veronika – we’d chat along like 2 canaries at a beauty contest – we’d solve everyone’s problems including our own while walking & talking.
Then I moved out to the farm and stopped walking altogether (tut tut), until my recent health scare had me whipping out my dusty takkies and looking for a walking partner. Walking alone sucks and after the cows nearly ate me for breakfast (gospel) Lovie offered to be my new walking partner...oh joy, Lovie isn’t much of a talker.
Walking in the suburbs is very different to walking on a farm. As a city slicker I would venture out in my matchy matchy lycra outfit with clean Nike takkies, fanny pack with peppered spray and a list of problems to solve and I was sorted.
But my gear for a farm walk is a very different story. I’m a picture of elegance – long trackpants with socks pulled up over the pant to almost my knees and a long sleeved shirt tucked into the pant…seriously I need to protect myself from being eaten alive by ticks. My takkies are always wet & muddy from traipsing through the wet grass or even worse, every frog and its granny, hanging out in them.
We don’t carry pepper spray but Lovie carries a whopping big knobkerrie to fend off any big 5 I insist we might encounter – there have been buck, porcupine, bunnies, snakes and wild boars but no Big 5…………………………..yet
We’ve also progressed to a little hill sprints after Lovie discovered I could in fact run up a hill – I was running away from a porcupine, scared the daylights out of me. Since then I’ve discovered adult diapers – not to get into too much detail, but running and ‘used up’ bladders don’t go …..just saying
When I’m not running away from porcupines I’m avoiding land mines – Jack the Dog takes his walks seriously too and uses every opportunity to ‘do his business’ a million times over.
As I said Lovie isn’t much of a walking talker and solving the problems of the world on your own, is no fun but I have to admit, picking the ticks off Lovie afterwards and squashing them DEAD, makes up for it.
So maybe that’s why I’m chasing Lovie out of bed to go walking or maybe, it’s because I’ve finally figured out, that a little walk/run gives me license to indulge a little. So after a week of wet takkies, hill sprints and a bout of tick bite fever, I indulged in a home-made custard slice and then everything was right with the world.
DO NOT FEAR the recipe, it appears complicated and long-winded but basically it’s just a batch of custard, sandwiched between 2 sheets of puff pastry. Don’t let the recipe scare you, read through it once or twice, understand what needs to be done, make the pastry sheets, then the custard and then sandwich them together. They’re really worth the effort.
2 packs of puff pastry (approx 400g each)
1 cup sugar
15ml heaped custard powder
4 cups milk
3 egg yolks, separated.
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the icing:
2 cups icing sugar
2-3 tsp water
1x rectangular dish
2x flat baking sheets
Grease proof paper.
To begin: Choose your dish. Ideally a rectangular dish approx 35 x 25 x 5. Prepare your dish by placing a long strip of grease- proof paper on the bottom and over both sides of the dish – see pic below. This will help you to remove the custard slices once set. Set you prepared dish aside.
Roll out the puff pastry onto a floured counter. Using a rolling pin gently roll out your pastry to fit the size of your dish with a little extra for luck – the pastry will shrink when it cooks. Place this sheet of pastry onto of a greased flat baking tray and repeat the process with the other pack of pastry because you need 2 sheets – 1 for the top and 1 for the bottom. Poke the sheets of pastry with a fork to prevent them from puffing up while cooking and place in a pre-heated oven 200C for 20-25min or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and if puffed up, gently apply pressure to flatten them.
Trim the sheets of pastry (use a sharp knife or pizza cutter) so that they fit snugly into your prepared dish – don’t trim too much as you need the bottom and top sheets to fit right up against the sides of the dish so that the sides can support the custard – if there are gaps around the edge of your dish the custard will spill out. You will see by my pics that I trimmed off too much and there are gaps along the sides. So with that said, place 1 sheet of pastry at the bottom of the prepared dish and then make your custard
To make the custard:
Combine the sugar, cornflour and custard powder in a pan, then stir in the milk until smooth. Use a whisk to prevent lumps
Add the butter and heat until it boils and thickens. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring continuously until thick and smooth. This is very thick, not the type of custard you pour over malva pudding
Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them through the hot custard – it might look a little lumpy but trust me, it somehow smooths out as it sets.
Pour the hot custard over the bottom puff pastry in the tin, and top with the other sheet of cooked puff pastry (placing the pastry upside down will give a smoother top). Press down lightly and there you have it – custard, sandwiched between 2 sheets of pastry. Place in the refrigerator to cool. * If the custard is too cold the top sheet of pastry won’t stick to the custard, making slicing difficult.*
Mix the icing ingredients together in a bowl until spreadable. Top the puff pastry with the icing. If it begins to set before you are finished spreading, use a knife dipped in a mug of boiled water to help things along. I did try to decorate the top with chocolate stripes but my piping bag burst hence the splotch look.
Refrigerate for a few hours to set completely. Cut neatly into squares or slices while still in the dish and then very carefully, using the ends of the grease-proof paper lift the slices out of the dish.