As mentioned recently, I had plans to observe how my mother makes an egg custard, in the hopes that I would then be able to make them myself.
My previous attempts at baked egg custards have not been failures as such, it’s just that to me they weren’t good enough because they did not taste the same as when my mum makes them. I expect that everyone has dishes they look back on fondly from childhood, and this is one of mine. My mother is of the belief that if you are ill, you need an egg custard. This theory is applied equally to all forms of illness and injury: broken leg? migraine? stomach upset? Get some egg custard down you!
Before she arrived, I weighed my sugar jar and made a note of the weight. After she poured the sugar in (how can you not weigh stuff when you are baking? To me, a careful, better-safe-than-sorry type, this is just madness!), I weighed it again. She used 124g of caster sugar – whereas the recipes I’ve used have said to use 50g for the same amount of eggs and milk. I’m going to try to use 100g next time and see how that works out, as this one was possiblya little too sweet.
- One pint of full fat milk
- Four eggs
- Teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 124g sugar (though I’d advise 100g)
Grease the bowl you will be using to bake the custard in. You need a second, larger dish to put the first bowl into, and then you half fill that with hot water before putting it in the oven – the old bain-marie trick.
You heat the milk in a saucepan until it’s pretty hot, but not boiling. My mother tested this by sticking her finger in it; you may have more sophisticated/hygienic techniques!
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Keep whisking while you pour in the milk. Nigella has you strain the mixture before baking, but mum doesn’t bother with this and so I’m also giving it a miss (one less thing to wash up!).
Pour into your baking dish (which is inside your other, filled-with-water dish), and grate a little fresh nutmeg on top before sticking it in the oven – my mother was horrified that I had neither a nutmeg nor a nutmeg grater. She has corrected this now and equipped me with both items. And I’ve not had cause to use either of them since, so perhaps it’s time I made another custard… Anyway, cook the custard 140 degrees – Nigella has you do this for between 60 and 90 minutes – it depends on the shape of your dish. It’s done when the custard is just set. Let it cool before you eat it – I like it chilled, but the Nigella book actually advises against this – it’s a matter of taste.
*Sorry for the rather poor picture – I was altogether too focused on eating the egg custard, and didn’t think to take a picture of until until I’d made rather a dent in it…