Custard - A selection of delicious recipes for homemade custard.

Custard has got to be the most popular dessert sauce in the UK. It is usually offered as an accompaniment to most pies and a number of hot puddings. Most people in the UK would not dream of having a portion of apple, rhubarb or cherry pie without a huge serving of warm custard to go with it.

Custard is a recipe that is based on heating, blending and slowly cooking a varying amount of egg yolks, milk and sugar. It is often flavoured with vanilla, in the form of the seeds from a vanilla pod, although you can more or less make any flavour of custard by adding other ingredients.
In the UK, custard is a sweet sauce that is medium - thick in consistency, which is poured onto your favourite dessert, however in other parts of the world, custard can be very thick and is used to give moisture and depth to sweet slices or individual sweet tarts such as custard tart or éclairs.

Unfortunately, although custard is a very popular dessert sauce, most people nowadays do not have the time to prepare it themselves and resort to serving ready-made custards from a can or instant custard made by adding boiling water to a prepared packet mix. As you would expect, the results are not quite the same, as nothing tastes better than a delicious homemade custard.

Traditionally, custard is made by using a double boiler, however it can just as easily be prepared in a saucepan, although care must be taken to cook the custard over a very low heat so that it does not curdle.

The most important thing to remember when making custard is to beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate mixing bowl and then pour the warm milk or cream over the egg yolk mixture into the mixing bowl rather than adding the egg yolks to the saucepan. This is so that the eggs do not cook and scramble. Once the eggs and sugar have been blended into the milk, the mixture can then be returned to the saucepan and the custard is cooked very slowly until it thickens to a creamy consistency.

For a very rich custard, which is unfortunately loaded with calories and fat, recipes will call for double cream to be used. On the other hand, for a lower fat version, you can substitute the double cream for single cream, milk or a mixture of the two.

Below are a number of recipes for making homemade custard; some using the traditional double boiler method, whilst others are simpler and ask for the custard to be prepared in a saucepan.

We also provide a number of variations of the traditionally flavoured custard and offer recipes on how to make different flavoured custards such as chocolate custard or orange custard.

How to make custard

  • ¾ pint (420 ml) of milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3-4 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  1. Pour the milk into a fairly large saucepan.
  2. Split the vanilla pod down the middle with a sharp knife and whilst holding the pod over the pan of milk, scrape out the black seeds and add them to the milk. Add the pod itself to the milk also.
  3. Heat the milk over a medium heat until small bubbles begin to appear. At this point, remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and set aside for about 15 minutes.
  4. After this time, remove the actual pod from the milk and discard.
  5. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the sugar until a light and creamy mixture appears.
  6. Prepare a saucepan of hot water and leave on the stove.
  7. Remove the lid from pan containing the milk and vanilla and gradually pour the milk into the egg yolk and sugar mixture in the mixing bowl. Stir continuously whilst adding the milk.
  8. Once all of the milk has been added, place the mixing bowl over the pan of hot water and set to a low heat, ensuring that the water does not boil.
  9. Cook the custard for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until the custard thickens to the desired consistency.
  10. Remove the bowl from the heat and strain the custard through a sieve into a bowl and serve.

Custard Variations

Chocolate custard: Add 2 oz (55 g) of grated dark chocolate to the warmed milk before adding to the egg yolks.

Orange custard: Instead of using a vanilla pod, add the finely grated zest of 1 orange to the milk at stage 2 above.

Liqueur custard: Once the custard has been prepared, add 2 - 3 tbsp of kirsch, brandy or any other liqueur and stir well.

Toffee custard: Once the custard is ready to serve, add 50g of finely chopped toffee and mix well.

Quick custard recipe

  • 1 pint (600 ml) of milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 oz (30 g) of caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tsp of cornflour
  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the whole vanilla pod.
  2. Heat the milk until just before it starts to boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until smooth.
  4. Keeping the milk pan off the heat, whisk the egg mixture into the milk.
  5. Remove the vanilla pod from the mixture.
  6. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens.
  7. Transfer to a warm pouring jug and serve.

Rich and creamy custard

  • 4 fl oz (115 ml) of double cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 oz (30 g) of caster sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod
  1. Place the double cream into a saucepan with the vanilla seeds from the split vanilla pod. Heat over a medium heat until the cream is almost boiling.
  2. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Pour the warm cream over the egg yolks, whilst stirring constantly.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat.
  6. Return to a medium heat, add the sugar and continue to stir until the custard has thickened. Do not allow the custard to boil.
  7. Serve warm.

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