Custard is one of the most loved basic preparation in pastry. It is used to fill and garnish desserts, from cream puffs to sponge cakes. Quick and easy, simply combine the yolks with sugar and cornstarch, then add hot milk and finally cook gently over the fire, until thick. This homemade custard is a bright yellow cream with a smooth and velvety texture, perfect to enjoy alone as a spoon dessert or to use to enrich your favorite desserts. Sweet and very versatile, you can enhance the vanilla flavor of this recipe with spices or ingredients you love (citrus peel, cocoa, vanilla, coffee), to get different results. So, let's find out how to make a perfect custard by following our recipe step by step.
Custard is a sweet cream used in pastry to fill cakes or served on its own as a spoonful dessert. Thick, smooth and creamy, it is a very easy and quick recipe made of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and lemon. Similar to the pudding, the custard is much firmer in texture than pudding as it uses eggs to thicken, while pudding calls for starch.
Making this homemade custard is easier than you may think. In a saucepan, add the milk, lemon zest and bring to a boil over medium heat. In the meanwhile, beat the yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Sift in the cornstarch and stir to combine. Before the milk boils completely, remove it from the heat and pour in the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Then place it back on the stovetop and cook the cream for a few minutes until thick. Remember to keep stirring the whole time so the cream will not stick to the bottom. Fill your favorite dessert or serve this custard by itself.
Cook the custard long enough, otherwise it will turn out watery. To avoid this, don't mix the yolks, sugar and cornstarch too in advance.
If your custard isn't thick enough, you probably over-mixed the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Make sure not to exceed 4 minutes before adding the milk. Also remember not to overcook your custard cook it for one minute at 185°F.
You can also try baked custard. Simply mix the whole eggs, milk and sugar mixture, then bake at 300°F in a water bath until the custard thickens.
According to the use, you can use cornstarch or rice starch. With the former you will get a cream with a thicker consistency, with the latter a softer one. Both cornstarch and rice starch are great for cold fillings, where the cake is not going to undergo a second cooking.
As soon as the cream thickens, continue cooking for a few moments in order to avoid the flavor to become too floury.
Once you got a dense cream, pour it in a clean bowl (that you can also put over an ice bath), cover with a sheet of transparent film and let it cool at room temperature. In this way, you will avoid the formation of the classic and quite unpleasant "pellicle" on the surface.
The custard may harden too much, especially in the refrigerator, and not be smooth and velvety enough. In this case, simply whip it for a few moments to bring it back to your favorite texture.
Heat the milk and remove it from the heat just before it comes to a boil. The risk is that milk may cook yolks once poured over them. To prevent this from happening, always stir vigorously with a hand whisk. If you wish, you can flavor the milk with lemon or orange zest, a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick.
You can also add cocoa, coffee or chocolate chips to your custard. For a softer spoon cake, lighten it with a little whipped cream. If you want a much richer recipe, you can replace part of the milk with fresh liquid cream.
Homemade custard is a versatile recipe you serve in different ways, both hot or cold. You can fill and garnish your favorite desserts such as sponge cakes, cream puffs, tarts, donuts or croissants. You can also serve the custard by itself as a spoonful dessert.
Custard can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or covered with a sheet of plastic wrap for up to 2-3 days.
Pout the milk in a saucepan.
Add the whole zest of 1 lemon, being careful not to remove the more bitter white part as well. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the milk to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla using a hand whisk.
Add the sifted cornstarch and stir again to combine.
When the milk is close to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour in the egg yolk and sugar mixture, stirring constantly.
Place back on the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until you get a cream of the right consistency.
Pour the custard into a wide, shallow tray or glass container, spread it out, and cover with plastic wrap.
Use your custard to fill a dessert or simply enjoy it by the spoonful.