With custard there’s nothing like the real thing. In the past when I’ve been feeling lazy I’ve tried to offer cream, and been ‘politely’ requested to go back and make proper custard, which really doesn’t take long.
There’s only one really important thing to know when making custard, and that’s not to leave it alone when it’s heating up or you may well end up with unrecoverable scrambled egg. The addition of cornflour pretty much stops this happening, but I personally don’t use cornflour and never have.
Custard goes with many desserts, from apple pie to treacle tart, but it’s never, in my opinion, shown off better than with treacle suet pudding, an all time favourite of my kids and their friends.
For Mary Berry’s custard recipe you’ll need:
1 pint full cream milk
2 oz single cream
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp of good quality vanilla extract
1 oz caster sugar (or vanilla sugar – see below)
2 level tsp cornflour
Bring the milk, cream and vanilla pod to simmering point over a low heat then remove the vanilla pod, dry and store.
Cream the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until blended
Pour the hot milk mixture over the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour, continually whisking, return all of this to the pan and gently stir with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick. A way to test, particularly if you’re not using cornflour, is to heat until your mixture coats the back of the spoon. If you draw your finger across the back of the spoon you can see a clear line between the two halves.
Pour into a jug and serve. If you need to keep it warm you can stand the pan or jug in a bowl of hot water and cover it with greaseproof paper to stop a skin forming.
If you don’t want to use cornflour you can use an extra egg yolk although you need to watch your custard more carefully when it heats up to make sure it doesn’t curdle. I would also use large eggs for this.
You can use double cream instead of single cream for a richer custard, or substitute some of the milk for single cream.
If you’re worried about your custard curdling you can use a double saucepan or a Bain Marie (a double saucepan is so much easier and useful in particular for any recipe where you need to melt chocolate). You’ll find a good one here.
Vanilla sugar – if you want to have vanilla infused sugar on hand at all times (which means you don’t need the vanilla essence or pod when making this recipe) keep a large jar filled with caster sugar, into which you have stuck a couple of vanilla pods. Over time the sugar will have a delicious vanilla taste and scent and you can use it for any recipe where vanilla and caster sugar are required.
Read: The Guardian on How to Cook the Perfect Custard/Sauce – quoting many different famous cooks and their custard recipes.
Mary Berry’s scrumptious treacle suet pudding.
Finally – I suggest you don’t trust the stirring to a child, of whatever age, as they tend to get side-tracked by their phones and you’ll return to have to start again…..and yes, this has happened to me.