What Is Custard?
Custard is a thickened and heated mixture of milk, eggs, and (usually) sugar made on the stove or in an oven. Custard is notoriously tricky to make because heat makes egg protein form a coagulation, making a dense solid mass. However, since they’re diluted by sugar and milk and sugar, the custard has to get heated up to a greater temperature than the egg itself could be.
However, overheating could cause custard that is smooth to become grainy. Specific recipes require flour or cornstarch to avoid curdling. However, this can be detrimental to the flavor of the custard. Western custards are usually made using milk or cream. Still, custards may be made using mineral-rich liquid like bonito or coconut milk, chicken stock, and vegetable broth.
What Is the History of Custard?
Although the ancient Romans acknowledged the power of eggs for coagulation, custards, like we have today, were probably not created before, around the Middle Ages, emerging both in Asia and Europe. In Medieval Europe, Custards were baked in bread ovens that cooled or small side ovens or chafing dishes set on coals. Alfred Bird invented custard powder during the nineteenth century to create custards for his spouse, who had an allergy to eggs made up of sugar and cornflour, to which hot milk is added.
What Are the Characteristics of Custard?
Custards can be firm or runny and can be found in myriad flavors, but they’re full of flavor due to the vast quantity of eggs required to create a thick custard. Recipes that call for more eggs in whole (or whites) will produce a more firm custard. Likewise, the yolks are more plentiful and will result in more smoother custard. Custard baked has been cooked by the time it adheres mostly to itself. You can feel it by tapping the dish. It will move very slowly. This indicates it is time for the protein to have formed coagulation. If you cook the custard on the stove, it will bead the spoon’s back.
3 Varieties of Custard
Three primary types are custard-based: baked, stirred custard, and steamed. The two types are well-known in Western food preparation. Baked custard is usually firmer and is made using whole eggs. Stirred custards are more runny and usually only include eggs with yolks. Custards cooked in steam, more prevalent in Asia, tend to be made from liquid or plant-based milk instead of dairy.
1. Custard baked This includes custards baked in a tart or pie shell and cooked in a baking dish placed in the bain-marie (water bath) that can be served within the word or not molded.
2. Mixed custards They include custards that are made over the stovetop, like crème Anglais, an emulsifiable custard having the consistency of thick custard at room temperature, and creme patisserie that is thickened by cornstarch or flour and retains its shape when it is at temperatures of room temperature.
3. Steamed Custards include Japanese Chawanmushi, a delicious custard made from dashi and flavored with mirin and soy sauce, which means “steamed cup.” The custard mix is made into a teacup, decorated with vegetables and meat, and placed in a covered pot that holds about 1-quarter inch of water. Korean Gyeran-Jjim and Chinese steamed eggs are prepared in the same way. Steamed Thai custards are made using an egg base made of coconut milk.
How to Make Custard
Combine 2 cups of milk with 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan at a moderately low temperature. The milk and sugar mixture to the desired temperature, slowly stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved in the milk. Make sure to stir the mixture continuously.
In the meantime, beat two eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
Alternate the eggs slowly by pouring some of the milk mixture into the eggs, stirring. Sp spoon small amounts until your eggs warmed to the same temperature as they were in the milk (about four ladlefuls).
Slowly add the mixture of milk and eggs to the pot, mixing everything. Keep stirring until the milk and egg mixture is viscous and may coat the surface of the spoon made of wood.
Strain the custard through a chinois and pour it into the bowl set in an Ice bath (or put your bowl inside a fridge). Set aside to set for at least one hour or until the custard is ready.
9 Ways to Prepare Custard
Western-style custards can be made using a stovetop or in an open baking dish placed in a bain marie (water bath) in the oven. Many words for stirring custards require mixing eggs and sugar first and then adding hot milk or cream to the mixture of sugar and eggs. This will help bring the custard up to temperature quicker without the risk of curdling. Custards with a starch enhancement can be cooked to a complete boil because the starch creates an extra buffer for egg proteins. Custards made without starch must keep at a lesser temp since they’ll curdle once boiling (this can be corrected through straining). Custard-based dishes that are popular include:
1. Quiche is a sweet baking custard tart filled with cheese, meat, and various vegetables.
2. Creme caramel (aka flan) is a baked sweet custard that flips to reveal a caramelized sugar base.
3. Eclairs Fruit tarts, donuts, and other sweets are typically packed with crème of patisserie (pastry cream).
4. British trifle is made of cakes, fruits, and custard stirred.
5. Ice cream is typically made from custard bases.
6. Bavarian cream is a custard that has been thickened by gelatin.
7. Creme brulee refers to “burned cream” and is baked custard served with crispy caramelized sugar. ( Creme brulee was first invented in the 17th century as a custard stirred, and it was not until the 20th century that creme-brulee became more popularly baked.)
8. Chinese egg tarts and their Portuguese cousins, pasties de nata, are made using custard.
9. Steamed Thai pumpkin custard is a custard that has been steamed from a base of coconut milk and then cooked inside a pumpkin.