'Speaking as someone who didn't go through the UK school system, with all the culinary baggage that entails, I am inordinately fond of custard in any shape or form.' - Yotam Ottolenghi on the rules of making custard
Oh Yotam, I am hearing you! Custard is a favourite of mine too and perhaps that's because it was never shoved down my throat either. When I was small, my mother would indulge me with custard - both the baked and the pouring variety. Occasionally, on outings, we would call in to a bakery in the city and sit down and eat an egg custard tart together too. Custard tarts are one of my Peter's favourite treats and I've promised to bake one for him very soon, but for the moment (until I'm back on both feet at least), my baked custard will have to do. I for one could quite happily eat this until the cows come home, not that we have any cows, mind. Pity.
'I like this better than the watery one you make,' Peter noted when I made it earlier in the week. 'Which 'watery' one,' I replied. 'Do you mean junket,' I asked. 'Yes, I like this much better than junket,' he reaffirmed. 'Well junket is completely different to custard and secondly it's very low in fat, so I do like it a lot. But yes, I agree, this custard is totally yum too,' I added with a smile.
BAKED VANILLA CUSTARD A LA LIZZY
6 fresh free range eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup vanilla infused caster sugar*
4 cups milk*
2 vanilla beans, scraped or 4g ground vanilla bean powder*
freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Break the eggs into a deep Pryex bowl and add the sugar, mix very gently with a balloon whisk until just combined (if you beat the mixture, you'll have air bubbles in your custard). Now combine the milk and the vanilla and heat gently, either in a saucepan on the stove top, or in the microwave. Take care not to allow the milk to boil, you're just warming it a little and allowing the beautiful vanilla flavour to infuse through it.
Pour the warmed milk over the eggs and sugar and stir with a wooden spoon or fork. Pour the custard mixture into a deep six-cup ovenproof dish. Place the dish into a deep baking dish and pour hot (not boiling) water into the base of the baking dish to form a bain-marie. Next, place the dish with the custard into the baking dish. Make sure the water comes up to halfway point on your custard dish.
Sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg evenly over the top of the custard and carefully transfer the tray to the oven. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or less, until a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean. Serve spooned into dessert bowls with poached fruit, or eat the custard as is. Refrigerate any leftovers and serve the following day. This quantity will serve six.
* Notes: I use unrefined golden caster sugar and Heilala Vanilla ground vanilla bean powder. Full cream milk is best, but I use low fat A2. For a little extra decadence, replace 1/2 cup of the milk with some cream.
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Disclaimer: sincere thanks to the folks at World Kitchen for sending me a CorningWare etch square baker to play with, as well as the large Pyrex mixing bowl, both pictured here. These items will be treasured and well used in my kitchen.
Tell me dear readers, do you like baked custard, or do you prefer junket? What's your ultimate comfort dessert in winter? And have you ever lobbed a custard pie at anyone?
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.