Custards

I thought in this edition I would talk about custards…… something so simple yet to me one of the most delicious substances known to man. Yes, the humble custard is right up there at the top of my list of favourite foods. It is something that is often made with custard powder or indeed bought ready made, but it is so simple to make from scratch.

Just on a side note here, I always try and make everything from base ingredients. It is often cheaper, it reduces the number of products I have to buy and store and perhaps more importantly it helps me to know just what I am putting into my stomach!

I guess my love of custard started when I was growing up and eating for England. My Mother was good enough to buy custard in bulk. For pudding I never had fruit, unless of course it came in a pie or similar. But pie or cake, it didn’t matter, it was served completely submerged in thick custard. At first it was made from a powder which thickened, coloured and flavoured the milk, later ready made and just simply poured straight out of the tin. I was so anxious to eat the stuff I quite often didn’t even go to the bother of heating it up first!

Vanilla Slice

Vanilla Slice….. simplicity yet perfection

Then of course there were the ready made puddings or cakes that already came with custard in them. Top of the list has got to be the vanilla slice. Two simple puff pasty wafers sandwiching a thick layer of custard. Mix a little icing sugar and water, spread on the top and the perfect cake is formed.

The first recipe I ever collected was for thick custard to be used in vanilla slices. I still have it, unfortunately I no longer have the name of the person who gave me the recipe. I always like to give credit where it is due, and this time I have failed. So, if by some miracle, the reader of the following story recognises it, thanks again for one of my most used recipes.

For the first two years of my University life I caught the train to what was then Blackburn College or Preston Polytechnic. Now Blackburn college had amongst other things a catering college! Every day I was accompanied for part of the journey by four ladies who were studying the finer arts of catering. They weren’t always the most communicative ladies, indeed they sometimes looked a little peaky, often on Monday mornings….. must have been all that custard they ate at weekends!

Custard, nothing quite like it.

Custard, nothing quite like it.

It must be said that at that age I wasn’t that interested in cookery. Even if I had been, meat and chips plus cake and custard would not have taken too long to learn. I didn’t eat much else after all. If it wasn’t for the local fish and chip shop I wouldn’t have eaten any fish at all. As for vegetables, my Mother used to send me in to town for sacks of potatoes…. yes I do mean sacks and not bags!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I asked one of these four ladies for a recipe, a recipe for the custard in vanilla slices. Here, more than thirty years later is the recipe:


Custard Filling (with Custard Powder)

Ingredients:

750ml Milk

1 Egg

75g Custard Powder

75g Sugar

75g Margarine


Method:

Put most of the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Beat the egg and then beat into the reserved cold milk. Mix into the custard powder and sugar to form a paste.

Pour the boiling milk over the custard powered paste mixing together. Put the mixture back into the pan and back onto the heat until thickened.

Take off the heat and beat in the margarine.


This recipe served me well for many, many years. I decided to adapt the original recipe to omit the custard powder. Here therefore is my recipe for Custard Filling:


Custard Filling (Homemade)

Making custard.

Making custard.

Ingredients:

400ml Milk

1 Vanilla pod

4 Egg yolks

40g Cornflour

50g Vanilla Sugar

40g Margarine


Method:

Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife. Put most of the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil with the vanilla pod. Leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the pod. Scrape out the seeds and put back into the milk.

Beat the egg yolks with the cornflour and sugar and the reserved milk.

Pour the the warm milk over the egg mixture. Put the mixture back into the pan and back onto the heat until thickened.

Take of the heat and beat in the margarine.


Vanilla pods in sugar

Vanilla pods in sugar

Just a word or two on vanilla pods and vanilla sugar. Many vanilla pods are sold wrapped in plastic. Many people buy vanilla pods just before use, or at an earlier date but keep them in the original plastic wrapping. I always have four or five pods to hand but I store them upright in tall glass jars almost covered in sugar. They are easy to pull out of the sugar for use and the sugar itself is infused with the vanilla. The sugar on its own adds an amazing vanilla flavour to any recipe.

So what about pouring custard? I recalled that my Grandmother used to make custard from scratch, without any shop bought powder. Below you will find my recipe for pouring custard. I use a little cornflour to help with the consistency. I know that purists our there might be offended by this addition, but I believe it helps the consistency of the custard and reduces the risk of the eggs curdling:


Pouring Custard (Homemade)

Ingredients:

1 Vanilla Pod

250ml Milk

2 Egg yolks

30ml Cornflour

50g Vanilla Sugar


Method:

Treacle Tart with pouring custard

Treacle Tart with pouring custard

Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife. Put most of the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil with the vanilla pod. Leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the pod. Scrape out the seeds and put back into the milk.

Beat the egg yolks with the cornflour and sugar and the reserved milk.

Pour the the warm milk over the egg mixture. Put the mixture back into the pan and back onto the heat until thickened.


Well that’s about it for this time. Enjoy the custard recipes and as always, please feel free to give feedback or comments, if I am going to make this blog better I need to know what you think!


©2015 Lincoln W. Betteridge

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