When I started this vanilla journey, I thought I’d bypass vanilla custards. But then I thought of all the lovely, creamy, sweet, velvety smooth custards and custardy-like things in life: pouring sauces like a lusciously soft crème anglais, decadent pastry creams, set custards like crunchy-topped crème brûlée, jiggly-wiggly crème caramel (gee, there are a lot of “crèmes”)…and then there’s one of the most wonderful things a custard can become: ice cream.
Okay, how could I not do sweet custards?
Custards are simply a milk (or cream) and egg mixture that’s been thickened by gentle heating, either on the hob or in the oven.
When choosing which type of custard to do, one thing stood in my way…the fact that I couldn’t stand. Sigh.
Okay, before I go on much longer, here are some different custard recipes for you to try. They are based on recipes from LaRousse Gastronomique:
Vanilla Crème Anglais
250g vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
8 extra-large egg yolks
500ml full-fat milk or light cream
1 vanilla pod (split and seeds scraped) or 2 tsp real vanilla extract
Boil the milk—if you are using the vanilla bean, add it and the seeds before taking the pot to the hob. Take the pot off the heat and allow to cool until hand-hot (when cooled, remove the pod). If you are using the extract, add it after the mixture has cooled.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and egg yolks until the mixture reaches a ribbony stage. Slowly add it to the cooled milk and mix well.
Put the mixture back on the hob (either on top of a double boiler or on a medium-low flame). Stir the custard constantly until it comes to a simmer. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. By this point, the eggs will have cooked sufficiently and the custard will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Sieve the creamy mixture to remove any bits of scrambled eggs. Serve warm or cold.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
1 split vanilla pod
500ml full-fat milk
3 extra-large egg yolks
75g caster sugar
Split and boil the vanilla pod in the milk; keep the pot on the hob, but remove the pod.
Beat the yolks with the sugar until it turns white in colour. Then add the cornflour.
Gradually add in the boiling milk to the egg mixture while whisking constantly.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return it to the hob; let boil for one minute while whisking vigorously. Sieve to remove any scrambled eggs and pour the custard into a bowl and let cool before using.
500ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split
2 extra-large eggs plus 4 extra-large yolks
125g vanilla sugar
Boil the milk with the vanilla pod.
In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
Remove the pod from the boiled milk, gradually add the hot liquid to the sweetened eggs while whisking quickly. Pour the custard into caramel-coated ramekins and place them in a bain marie in a 375F oven for 40 minutes or until the custards are lightly set.
Remove the ramekins from the bain marie and let cool completely. Turn out onto a dish before serving.
Okay, back to this post.
Yeah, this was an opportunity to do some cooking by proxy.
For Easter supper I decided to simplify things a bit and do a bread pudding—partly because of the custard sauce it makes. A few days earlier I watched an episode of Nigella Bites where she did a ginger marmalade sandwich pudding and thought it would be perfect. Of course, I had to change a few things—I didn’t have all the ingredients she mentioned, so I improvised a bit.
The Fussy Eater was my kitchen minion for the entire supper. This was the first time we’d cooked together—prior to this I’d call him in to get things that were too high for me to reach or too heavy for me to carry, or simply to taste something.
I am happy to report that we are still together.
The only note on the pudding I have is that the dish I used was a wee bit too large and the sandwiches weren’t snugged together as they should be…it doesn’t effect the taste, but adds to the “mountains and lakes” look….
Raisin Bread and Butter Pudding
1 raisin bread loaf
Ginger marmalade or ginger conserve
4 extra-large egg yolks plus 1extra-large whole egg
3 Tbsp vanilla sugar plus a couple of extra spoons for sprinkling
250ml double cream
100ml heavy cream
350ml full-fat milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Putting it together
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 1.5 litre pudding dish (or a lasagne pan, whichever you have on hand).
Make butter and marmalade sandwiches, then cut them into triangles. Arrange them in the pudding dish—personally I like them all point side up—the tips get nice and toasty and it sort of looks like a mountain range—but arrange them in whatever way you wish.
In a jug, whisk the eggs with the vanilla, sugar, milk and creams. Then pour over sandwiches. Let the bread soak up the mixture for about 10 minutes. Just before putting it into the oven, spread a little more butter over top the crusts that poke out above the custard and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of sugar over the dish. Let bake for about 40-45 minutes until the custard sets and is slightly poofy.
Remove from oven to cool (the poofiness will go away). You can serve it “as is” or with some crème anglais.
Before the nonsense: 44 cups; 3 free coffees, 1 free doughnut
Now: 41 cups, 7 free coffees