Yorkshire Curd Tart

Traditional Yorkshire Curd Tart was a big hit in our family for a weekend treat from Betty's. They're beautifully old-fashioned and they make me think of real wood fires, big mugs of Yorkshire tea, thick wooly jumpers and grey skies and drizzle. They're like a taste explosion of sunshine on a grey English day!

I've looked at many different recipes and this is my interpretation, based on the Betty's tearoom version because we adore them! Many of the recipes I found used rosewater and claim this to be an traditional ingredient. However, I really wanted to have the Betty's taste, and they don't use rosewater in their tarts. Betty's also use lemon curd rather than lemon zest and I like this, because the lemon flavour is more delicate and rounded. The tart shouldn't taste overly of lemon - rather the lemon should just lift the flavour of the curds.

Slice of Yorkshire curd tart showing the texture of the filling with currants.

The curd cheese is a simple thing to make. The only thing is, you do need to start the recipe the day before as the cheese really does need to hang overnight (or at least for 6 hours) to make it dry enough to get the right texture, which is slightly grainy. 

I used sugar pastry for the case, even though I almost always used pate sablee for my afternoon tea baking. This is because I thought it would be too rich with such a buttery (though delectable) pastry. Also, pate sablee is so much more delicate and this tart needs to be sliced and still hold itself together.

If you are going to use a bigger size of tin, make more pastry. You can double the quantity and then use the left-over for smaller tarts. This quantity is exactly right for a 7 inch tin.

I love using 7 inch pans for baking. Tarts of this size are prettier and the slices more dainty than 8 or 9 inch pans. Also, I like to bake cakes this size because they are taller when you put two on top of each other and I prefer that look to a larger but flatter cake.

You can buy 7 x 1 1/2 inch cake pans from Head Cook here. It's well worth the investment.

Yorkshire curd tart recipe

Level: Intermediate
Time: 50 minutes - PLUS overnight
for the curds and overnight freezing 
of the pastry case

Makes: 7 inch tart.
8 small slices

1 litre (4 cups) milk
Juice of half a lemon (maybe a little more)
Some cheesecloth

or

150g (2/3 cup) curd cheese

Plus:

65g (1/3 cup) butter
65g (1/4 cup) sugar (caster)
1 egg - beaten
50g (1/3 cup) currants
1/2 tbsp lemon curd
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 qty of sugar pastry

7" cake tin, 1 1/2 inches deep.

Yorkshire curd tart served with Yorkshire gold tea in an antique teacup. There is a black and white wedding photograph in the background.

Make the curd cheese

I usually make the curd cheese late at night and leave it hanging over night. During cold weather, this is no problem. In the summer, you need to find a way of hanging it in the fridge, or just leave it in the sieve to drain.

You need a large pan, a large bowl, a sieve, some cheesecloth and some string.

  • Take two pieces of cheesecloth. Place one across the sieve and one the other way across so that you will be able to take the ends of the cloth and draw it up into a bag to hang. Place the sieve over the big bowl.

  • Put the milk into a large pan.

  • Bring slowly to the boil.
     
  • As soon as the milk begins to rise, take it off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir just once and leave for a moment. You'll see the curds separate from the whey. Give it another slow gentle stir just to make sure all the curds have risen.

    The whey is a greenish-yellow colour. If it still appears white, add a little more lemon juice.

  • Strain it through the cheesecloth into the bowl. If you've never made curd cheese (known as paneer in India) you might be shocked at how little cheese you get compared to the whey. It perhaps puts the price of cheese into perspective. :-)

  • Leave it for a short while to cool down. 

  • You can tip away the whey at this time, or use it in some other way. You can cook rice with it, or make ricotta cheese....

  • Use the string to tie the cheesecloth together into a bag and tie it to the handle of one of your cupboards with the bowl underneath to catch the drips.

  • Leave overnight.

Make the pastry case

  • Make a quantity of sugar pastry.

  • Leave it to rest in the fridge for an hour, wrapped in clingfilm.

  • Once it is ready to use, flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to a circle with a diameter of 10-11 inches

  • Grease the inside of a 7" x 1 1/2" deep cake tin with butter.

  • Use a rolling pin to transfer the circle to the tin.

  • Press the pastry gently into the bottom and sides of the tin.

  • Trim away the excess.

  • Prick the pastry case all over with a fork.

Bake the pastry case

  • When you are ready to make the Yorkshire curd tart, turn the oven on to 350 (gas mark 4).

  • Cut a circle of parchment paper, larger than the tin and its sides. Carefully push it into the tart as shown.

  • Fill the parchment paper with dried chickpeas or beans.

  • Once the oven is up to temperature, pop the pastry case in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes.

  • Whilst this is happening, beat an egg and have it ready with a pastry brush.

Prepare the filling

  • Cream the butter and the sugar together with a wooden spoon.

  • Add the egg to the mixture a little at a time and beat between each addition until fully incorporated.

  • Stir in the lemon curd, the spices, the currants and the curd cheese.
  • Mix until incorporated - but don't worry about trying to break up the cheese fully. There will be some small bits that are not fully smooth and this is fine. It should look like this picture here.

Bake the Yorkshire curd tart

  • When the timer goes off for the pastry case, take it out of the oven and remove the beans and paper. Simply lift the whole thing out and put it in a bowl.

  • Brush the pastry case all over with the beaten egg. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

  • After five minutes, remove the pastry case from the oven and use a spoon to transfer the filling to the pie case. 
  • Smooth the filling out and make sure it is pushed into all the edges.

  • Return it to the oven and bake for 35 minutes.

  • The Yorkshire curd tart should be nicely brown on the top at this stage.

  • Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely before serving.

Yorkshire curd tart can be eaten at room temperature or cold from the fridge. Personally, I like it best later on the day of baking so that I don't have to put it in the fridge. I just keep it covered in the pantry.

Serve with

Yorkshire curd tart, slices of parkin, ham sandwiches, cheese sandwiches and pikelets make for a truly delicious Yorkshire afternoon tea.

Yorkshire curd tart is delicious with black tea, but I also love it with rooibos

It's a perfect afternoon treat with just a cup of tea, but if you are serving it as part of a full tea spread, then I love it with ham sandwiches, cheese and pickle sandwiches, parkin and pikelets, served with

Yorkshire Gold tea

This is an old-fashioned tea and it makes me feel at home. Love it. :-)