Why custard is worth the time (and elbow grease)


Take some time next weekend to make a really delicious custard. One that you'll struggle to resist eating by the spoonful. But one that glistens and slips luxuriously among fresh raspberries or drapes itself comfortably around the cake element of a trifle, or perhaps (as we are) bakes slowly into a brioche to make the most perfect bread and butter pudding.

Custard is not actually difficult, it just requires some patience and effort. My advice is for goodness sake don't walk away! It's essentially a combination of eggs, sugar and cream, with vanilla and a pinch of salt. You mix the eggs and sugar together first, heat the cream and vanilla, and then pour the hot cream mixture onto the egg yolks. Then, put that bowl over a pan of hot water to make a double boiler and keep whisking until you have a thick custard (about 8 minutes or so).

There are some versions that use cornflour, but I'm not a fan... I've had one too many grainy versions that make me completely averse to anything other than the simplest version. When you've made that double boiler, just keep whisking. It will seem to take forever, but you can test to see if it's ready by pulling your wooden spoon or spatula across the top of the custard and seeing if it leaves a mark that takes a moment or two to disappear.


5 egg yolks (use the whites for meringue or your fittie egg white omelette!)
35g caster sugar
360gms double cream (I use Ooh)
1 vanilla pod
A pinch of salt


Prepare a pan of hot water (one that your egg yolk bowl will sit on top of nicely). Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Put the double cream, vanilla pod and salt into another pan and heat up - but don't bring to the boil. As soon as it's hot enough, pour onto the egg yolks whisking all the time. Then place that bowl over the pan of hot water, and keep whisking. Keep whisking. Keep whisking. It will probably take 10 - 15 minutes or so, but don't stop! Keep whisking until a wooden spoon pulled across the top of the custard leaves a mark that takes a moment to disappear. C'est pret! Remove the bowl and serve immediately in a jug if you want it hot. Alternatively let it cool down. It will thicken as it cools. Now bask in the glory of authentic custard making.