Friday, 1 May 2015

The Making of Custard

Ever cut a slice of custard? No? I thought not. I have to admit it did have an odd taste. Sort of chalky but still creamy if a little too much of one and not enough of the other. It goes without saying that this was the first time I had made custard, proper custard that is.
Knowing little about the how's and how not's in making said desert I naturally enough turned to the experts. In this case the BBC. Yes, that's right, those chaps who have from nigh on a century been making entertainment, reporting the news and such like. I went to their homepage and saw this...

  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 100g/3½oz golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour, optional
  • 300ml/1 pint double cream
  • 300ml/½ pint full-fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod 

  • Preparation method

    1. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large bowl. (You will not need the whites for this recipe. You can use them to make meringues.)
    2. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until pale and thick.
    3. Add the cornflour and whisk well to incorporate into the egg yolks.
    4. Put the cream and milk into a medium saucepan.
    5. Cut the vanilla pod open lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife, then add to the milk and cream.
    6. Heat the cream mixture to just below boiling point. Take the vanilla pod out and set aside (it can be dried out and placed in sugar to make vanilla sugar).
    7. Slowly pour the hot cream and milk onto the eggs and sugar, whisking as you go.
    8. Transfer the custard to a clean pan, and set it over a very low heat.
    9. Stir the custard constantly with a wooden spoon, paying special attention to the corners of the pan, until it is steaming and has thickened slightly. The custard is ready when you can draw a clear line through it on the back of the wooden spoon. This can take up to 10 minutes.
    I pretty much followed this to the letter. It was the numeric I was overly generous with or, if you want the truth, the portions. I have always fancied myself as someone with natural gifts in creating things. I followed this train of thought with the recipe I had 'half inched.' Instead of 1 tsp of cornflour I used 3 tbsp. Okay, okay I am lying. I misread the damn thing. I wanted to add more but confused teaspoon with tablespoon.
    Having whisked and stirred in all the appropriate places, and having ensured the right pans didn't boil. Having stirred the concoction, beautifully yellow, and left if it to cool I was somewhat surprised when content was subsequently deposited into a bowl made a dull thunk sound rather than a squelch. Well, it wasn't so much a thunk but a hollow phud.
    I was confounded a little after prodding produce with forefinger as there was supreme resistance when there should have been a lack of such. It didn't wobble in the way custard should. Not in the same manner as jelly (Jello to my American cousin and, whilst translating for the old colonials, transcribe cornflour as corn starch) which wobbles in the fashion of a belly dancers abdomen but remained stoically firm. Less firm and more solid. Hence the use of a knife instead of a spoon.
    I have eaten the first slice which looked rather shamefaced when placed with the rhubarb I had cooked. It tasted....unusual. Sort of like a Rabbi at a Christening, not that I have ever tasted one, a Rabbi that is, but you know what I mean. Still, there is plenty more for me to cut into various shapes as and when I desire it. Maybe I have invented a new cuisine?


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    Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers. (Image courtesy of Michael Leigh)

    4 comments:

    teresa martin said...

    why are you attempting to make something sugary?

    having said that, i fully applaud your efforts to make it from scratch and not from a box!!

    Russell Duffy said...

    Sugar is okay IF you know what you are doing. For example, diabetics should eat fruit which contains natural sugars and which have the same effect as eating candy. What you do is balance that intake with gauged amounts of insulin and or exercise. I went for a 'stiff' walk prior to ingesting said, yucky, delight! :)

    Cara H said...

    I love custard. My mother used to make it all the time before my father turned up lactose intolerant and forbade all milk products from our home. He later discovered that cheese actually has very little in the way of lactose and allowed it to re-enter our abode.

    Cara H said...

    True this. I'm a type 2 diabetic and don't have to use insulin. My blood sugar can spike if I get too few carbs, oddly enough. Also, certain high carb foods (potatoes) tend to have very little impact on my blood sugar, whereas others (rice) cause it to spike.