Geoff’s mum’s custard squares

Photographer: Adam
Makes approx 15 large squares

Custard squares are a bit of a Kiwi tradition, you are always lucky to find them in a café as they don’t normally last long. There can be some technique involved in eating one, if the custard filling is too soft then when you bite into the pastry top and bottom, the custard squishes out the middle and ends up on your shirt. I have always wanted to try making them as they are a favourite of mine, so when Geoff our engineering colleague in Dunedin said that his mum’s café in Christchurch had an easy recipe I jumped at the chance to get my hands on it.

Geoff’s Mum Ruth explains below:

“I make good, old fashioned custard squares, just one tray once a week and served over two days. My customers know that if they are after custard squares that they need to come in on a Wednesday or Thursday… sometimes a couple pieces might make it to Friday. These customers range from little old ladies to big tough workmen, they all love them. There is a constant debate going on about the custard squares, that is, whether or not coconut belongs on the top…but I say yes, because that is how my mum used to make them.”

Ruth Mitchell – Prebbleton Cafe Christchurch


750g pack pre rolled flaky puff pastry
1.4 L standard milk
1 cup custard powder
3-4 tbsp vanilla extract- depending on the quality of the vanilla
6 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Desiccated coconut


Prepare base and top
Preheat oven to 200°C on Bake
Find a tin to assemble the squares in, approximately 22cm W x 35cm D x4cm H (The size of the tray will determine the height of the finished squares- choose a smaller tray if you want them taller)
Roll out flaky puff pastry to half the thickness and twice the size of the tin, prick very well or use docking tool.
Bake for about 10 min, until golden (rotate trays halfway through if using more than one)
When cold cut to fit base of tray and another slightly larger for top.

Pour 1L of the milk into a pan with the sugar and slowly heat.
Pour the remaining 400mls of milk in a large measuring jug and mix the custard powder and vanilla until smooth.
Add the custard mixture to the heating milk. Stir continuously until very thick, then stir for another 2 minutes on low. (the custard has to be thicker than you would normally make so that it will set solid when cooled) *
Pour the hot custard over the base pastry in the tin.
Place the top pastry on top of the custard and press down gently to settle the custard.
Cool down and refrigerate. Once cold you can ice it.

Cream softened butter and add icing sugar and vanilla. Add water to the mixture until it has a smooth spreadable consistency.
Spread the icing over the cooled pastry, Sprinkle with coconut.
Trim edges. Allow icing to set before cutting into rectangles.

*Custard has to be stirred continuously to make sure the milk does not burn, figure eights in the bottom of the pan with a whisk is a good way to make sure you are covering the whole bottom.