$5 Friday: Custard

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Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you have having a wonderful day with family and friends, and reflecting on hope, love and joy at Christmas.  I am celebrating this year with family, eating traditional foods (yes, even plum pudding) and of course, custard. What would Christmas be without custard?  And today I share a simple recipe for homemade custard.

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Plum pudding with homemade custard

I’m not talking about using custard powder.  That is a perfectly acceptable way to make custard.  But did you know that it doesn’t even have eggs in it?  Not even powdered eggs?  That’s right, not even eggs.  It was invented by a British chemist in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs.  Most modern custard powders contain cornflour and colours. Pre-made supermarket custards aren’t necessarily better, either, as most contain gelatine and (given the long shelf life) undoubtedly preservatives.

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I don’t want to make you anyone wrong by pouring package made or pre-bought custard on your plum pudding (or indeed, to condone you for eating plum pudding). I just want to point out how incredibly easy – and cheap – it is to make custard from scratch.  You can even premake it that morning.  And you definitely don’t need to have another packet hanging around in your cupboard that you probably only use once or twice a year.

Homemade custard is one of life’s great comfort foods. It soothes and tempts like very few other sweets do. I rarely say no to custard, even when I know that I ought to.  Making homemade custard on Christmas day is such a special thing, and elevates even a normal dessert to something sublime.

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I usually make my Christmas custard with vanilla as that makes it easier to share with all the family.  But by all means add brandy (as I have done here), or grated orange rind, or nutmeg, or a splash of another type of liqueur or fortified wine.

Free range eggs give the best result as their yolks are typically a deeper yellow.  I like to buy eggs from people I know who raise chooks, as that way I can be sure about how the chickens are being treated.  But any eggs work fine.

Ingredients

2 cups milk
2 eggs (yolk only)
4 tablespoons or less white sugar
1 tablespoon corn flour (can use plain)
1/2 teaspoon brandy essence

Method

  1. Heat the milk and brandy essence (if using) in a saucepan until it is simmering.  Do not boil.
  2. Meanwhile, separate the eggs and combine the eggs and sugar in a medium to large-sized bowl.  Whisk until pale and fluffy – it sort of looks like soft butter and I am always amazed at how much it expands in size.  Add the flour, and beat until combine.
  3. Pour a little of the milk mixture onto the egg mixture, and quickly whisk until incorporated.  Gradually add the remaining milk mixture, beating after each incorporation.
  4. Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan.  Don’t even think of using the same saucepan – while I hate washing up, I have learnt that the end result it not nearly the same as the custard would pick up the bits of milk that have cooked on the side of the pan.  Have two saucepans ready.
  5. Cook the custard mixture over low heat for five to ten minutes, stirring constantly.  It is usually ready just before it boils – don’t allow to boil or else the mixture will curdle. It will still taste yummy, just the texture won’t be right.  (Note: while definitely NOT traditional, I sometimes like to continue to whisk my custard rather than stir it as it cooks. I find this gives it a mousse like, light texture.)
  6. If you are premaking ahead of time, reheat gently over a stove.  The mixture will form a skin on top. You can stir that back into the mixture, or if it really bothers you, place a piece of clingwrap over the top to prevent the skin forming.

Total:

milk 50c
eggs 45c
sugar 20c
flour 10c
brandy essence 20c

Cost: $1.55

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