Cottonrake: English Custard Tart

I’ve just had a taste sensation that will stay with me for a very, very long time.

These last couple of days, I’ve had a flavour of what life might have been like if I had made the choices many urged me to make – my lovely wife went to work put people to sleep all day, and I got up and took the dog out, made myself tea and then coffee upon coffee and I wrote.

I had breaks in between writing, of course, to visit the local cheese shop (I J Mellis on Great Western Road), and to the bakery just across the road – Cottonrake.

I always recommend Cottonrake as the best bakery in the West End, nay Glasgow, and not just because of its handiness. Stefan and his team make an awesome selection of patisserie and viennoiserie; all of it in-house, in their tiny, tiny kitchen. They produce a mean sourdough, and the only authentic baguettes around.

Popping in for my pastry fix between the third and fourth thousand word today, Stef handed me a little brown bag. He said – “It’s an English Custard Tart. I’m fed up with these Portuguese ones.”

I think my look must have been of slight bewilderment – “It’s been 3 months in the making, and I think we’ve got it. Proper puff pastry, made here, with a little bit of a soggy bottom. It should remind you of a Tesco custard tart, at least a bit.”

Now just confused, I thanked Stef and untied the dog and walked home. First, another flat white. Then, the tart.

This tart. This English tart made in a wee Scottish bakery. A three month labour of love. From the top, it looks like any other. From the bottom, though, look at that organised lamination. That deep, sweet golden brown. It hints at what is to come.

One bite and I was laughing-out-loud with joy. The soft, eggy custard. The crisp outer layer pastry of flaking pastry and, Stef’s right, just that perfect measurement of stodge. It makes it. It is sublime. It is perfect.

I’m not sure if it’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten, but it feels like it is just now. I can’t say when they’ll have this as a regular feature (it might already be, for all I know) but I can see the word spreading at such a rate that they’ll have queues out the door of tourists from every continent, and they’ll have travelled here only to taste this little £1.50 custard tart. – 497 Great Western Road, Glasgow




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