How to Make Custard – Best Custard Recipe


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Is there anything so dreamy as pouring vanilla flavored cream over a generous helping of apple crumble, sticky caramel pudding or jam sponge cake? We didn’t think so.

Traditional pastry cream is a simple combination of milk, eggs, sugar, and a flavoring, such as vanilla (and sometimes a sprinkle of corn flour). Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, you can adapt it to your taste – make it thicker with more eggs, richer with double cream, or even chocolatey with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

Should I add cornstarch to the pastry cream?

A traditional custard (or custard) uses only eggs as a thickener and does not include corn flour. However, a pinch of cornstarch reduces the risk of the eggs overcooking and curdling once the hot milk is introduced. It also results in a smoother, thicker, and almost foolproof pastry cream.

I don’t have a vanilla bean. Can I use vanilla extract?

Sure. Simply add the extract to the pastry cream at the very end and stir.

How can I make my custard richer?

Use more egg yolks or replace some or all of the whole milk with double cream to make a decadent custard. A higher egg to liquid ratio will result in a baked custard texture that sets.

Why is my pastry cream lumpy?

It is essential to continue whisking while pouring in the milk or you will end up with lumps. If you find this too delicate, add the milk a ladleful at a time. Also, when you return the custard mixture back to the pan, keep the heat low to prevent it from sticking to the base and clumping.

Why does my pastry cream look grainy and fuzzy?

Eggs in custard can scramble if the milk is too hot. Allow the milk to cool slightly then slowly add it to the eggs to prevent them from cooking on contact.

How can I prevent custard from forming a skin?

Place a piece of cling film directly on top of the custard and smooth it out to prevent air from getting in.

Should I strain my custard?

The custard does not need to be strained, but if it looks a bit grainy, pass it through a sieve for a smoother finish.

What else can I do with homemade custard?

Churn your custard in an ice cream maker or fold it into double cream for a gorgeous pavlova topping. Pour it over set jelly and top with whipped cream and sprinkle to make a trifle or dip slices of brioche in it before baking to make a fancy bread and butter pudding. Turn your custard into crème brûlée by skipping the last step of the pan and pouring into ramekins before cooking in a bain-marie. Once baked and cooled, dust with powdered sugar and caramelize under a hot broiler to create that deliciously crispy top that cracks when you tap it with a spoon.

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vanilla pod (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract), cut in the middle and seeds scraped out

2 tbsp.

caster sugar (about 30g)

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1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the milk with the seeds and the vanilla pod and bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Once the milk has boiled, remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the vanilla bean at this point.
3. Once slightly cooled, gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture in an even stream, whisking constantly.
4. Return to saucepan over low heat, stirring gently until mixture begins to thicken. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon when thick enough.

TOP TIP: Rather than throwing away that vanilla bean, rinse it and add it to a sugar pot for the vanilla sugar!

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