Making Egg Custards

Custards can be divided into pouring sauces, used to accompany puddings, pies and stewed fruit, and baked or steamed — puddings in themselves.

The greatest difficulty in making egg custards is to prevent the egg from curdling; do not over-cook at too high a temperature or add the egg too quickly to hot liquid. For a pouring sauce use a basin standing over a pan of simmering water or a double saucepan. Five ml (1 teaspoon) blended cornflour will help to prevent a pouring custard from curdling. Stand the dish or dishes for a set custard which is to be cooked in an oven, such as crème caramel, in a bain marie: a heatproof dish placed inside a roasting tin which has been half-filled with cold water.

Basic Custard Sauce

2 eggs (size 3)

10 ml (2 level teaspoons)

caster sugar

275 ml (½ pt) milk

2.5 ml (¼ teaspoon) vanilla essence (optional)

Beat eggs with sugar and 45 ml (3 tablespoons) milk. Heat rest of milk to lukewarm, and beat into eggs. Pour into top half of double saucepan over gentle heat and cook, stirring frequently, without boiling. Until it thickens.

Pour into jug and stir in vanilla essence. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4-6.

Basic Baked Egg Custard

3 eggs (size 1 or 2) or yolks of 4 eggs (size 3) 575 ml (1 pt) milk 25 g (1 oz) caster sugar Grated nutmeg

Beat eggs with milk and strain into a ¼ litre (1 ½ pt) buttered heatproof dish; stir in sugar. Sprinkle surface lightly with nutmeg and stand the dish in a roasting tin half filled with water. Bake in the centre of the oven at 160°C (325°F), Gas Mark 3 for up to an hour. Serves 4.