Custard,also known as crème anglaise, is a milk or cream-based dessert delicious on its own or on top of practically any dessert. Custard is thickened by coagulated egg yolks and either gelatine or cornstarch depending on the dish and simmered on a low heat until it reaches the desired consistency. The key to making good custard is keeping the temperature low and steady. Keep the temperature between 160°F (70°C) and 170°F (75°C) but never exceeding 175°F (80°C).
Nothing beats fresh vanilla, so use it if you get you’re able to get your hands on some. Alternatively use 3-4 teaspoons of vanilla extract depending on how strong you like it. To remove the vanilla paste from the inside the pods, slice them lengthways, then use a knife to scrape out the inside.
Custard is usually cooked in a double boiler or heated very gently in a saucepan on a stove. It can also be steamed and baked in the oven with or without a water bath.
Using starch like corn starch acts as a heat buffer to the custard preventing curdling. As the molecules absorb the moisture they help maintain a constant rate of heat transfer. Startch also helps thicken the custard as well as giving it a glossy, silky texture. Curdling occurs when the custard is overheated and the protein becomes overcoagulated and separates from the liquid leaving a mixture resembling fine curds and whey.
Don’t keep homemade custard in the fridge for more than 2-3 days or it will start to lose its freshness. Don’t freeze custard either because it has a tendency to separate particularly when it gets thawed out.
- 700ml heavy cream
- 200ml whole milk
- 2 vanilla pods
- 3 tbsp cornflour
- 100g caster sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan and gently bring to just below boiling point.
- Prepare the vanilla pod by taking off the end, splitting it down the center lengthways, and use and knife to scrape out the paste and bowl, whisk together the yolks, cornflour, and sugar until smooth.
- Add the vanilla to the hot cream mixture and whisk.
- When the cream, milk, and vanilla mixture begin to steam, add the egg yolk mixture while constantly whisking.
- Simmer until the custard reaches the proper consistency.