Today the weather has turned, and my Mediterranean home has transformed itself from a sunny playground into a melancholy autumnal scene. This doesn’t sadden me in the least, I love autumn and all of the baked deserts, crumbles and steamed puddings that come along with it, and I love them even more when they are drowned in a certain liquid…
Traditional English custard, it might be old fashioned and unhealthy, but that doesn’t stop it from being a seriously sexy substance. It’s like having liquid velvet infused with the exoticism of vanilla sliding down the back of your throat.
Custard is as English as cricket, bowler hats or drunk exploits in Ibiza, except for when you serve it over any kind of steamed pudding, when it instantly becomes far more English than any of those other things. Even the French almost acknowledge it as our culinary creation (although Creme Anglaise is slightly different).
Some people might say that this isn’t really a recipe all to itself, that “you wouldn’t just sit down and eat a jug or bowl of custard, would you?” But the fact is that actually I would and I have parked my bum and spooned my way through an entire jug of custard more than once, because it is just that good.
Without further ado then, here is the quick and easy way to make real custard. The world ‘real’ meaning that it isn’t bright yellow and made from a powder or out of a tin, and that it isn’t low in calories and made from milk or cream substitute. When I was a kid we had Birds custard powder mixed with milk, and at the time I loved it, but when I started cooking I realised that it really is a pretty poor substitute for the real thing.
Whisk up some Custard
- Vanilla pod1
- Double cream275 ml
- Large egg yolks3
- Cornflour1 tsp
- Caster sugar25 g
Cut down the length of the vanilla pod, and scrape out the seeds, put both the seeds and the pod itself into a small saucepan, and add the cream to it.
If you don’t have a vanilla pod, or do but just don’t want to use something so expensive to make custard, then you can use vanilla extract without too huge a difference to the taste.
Put the pan onto the hob at a low heat and bring it up to just below simmering point.
While the cream is heating up, put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a heatproof bowl, and whisk them together.
Take the vanilla pod out of the hot cream, and then slowly pour the cream into the bowl with the eggs and sugar. Keep on whisking it all the time that you are pouring in the cream.
Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan, and put it back on a gentle heat. Keep whisking it as it heats, and as it reaches simmering point it will start to thicken.
If you overheat the custard then it will split, and start to look grainy. If this happens, don’t panic, just take it off of the heat and keep whisking it until it re-emulsifies.
When it has thickened, either serve it hot as is, or put it into a jug and cover it with clingfilm to serve it cold later. If you don’t cover it then you will find that it develops a skin on the top.
That’s it, serve it with anything, or just grab yourself a spoon and a jug!