Custard and Coyotes

Bird'scustardWhen I say custard I don’t mean flan or the kind you bake in the oven. I’m talking about the traditional, gluey English kind you “prepare on the hob and pour over puddings (desserts)” to quote something I read about the Bird’s custard online. Bird’s is the instant yellow glop that I remember so well from the lunch room at the girls’ school I went to in London. It has a distinctive, cloying sweet smell which I actually prefer to the taste. Other people love custard though, so I prepared the traditional pourable custard from scratch to serve with some berries I was bringing to a friend’s St. Patrick’s Day meal. Below is an easy, cream-free recipe that I used and everyone seemed to really like it. berriesspoon

My dislike for custard, however, is nothing to my feelings about coyotes. I lived in Los Angeles for five years, a city that has more urban coyotes than most cities have people. Lying in bed, a few blocks from the theater where they present the Oscars, I could hear the bloodcurdling screams of the coyotes feeding in the dumpster behind my complex. I won’t mention all the pets the coyotes have eaten, except to say that my cat, now an elderly, indoor lounger, was the only cat I have ever heard to hunt alongside and co-exist with coyotes and live to tell about it.

The day after the custard and berries triumph, my tiny hunting dog ran into this coyote while hunting for ground squirrels. That was the fastest I have ever seen my dog run.

Briones CoyoteCan you blame him?

Printable recipe PDF? Click Pourable Custard Recipe.

Traditional, Pourable Custard
adapted from the

3 egg yolks (save the whites to make my flourless chocolate cookies)
2 cups full fat milk (I used Lactaid brand but you could use the heavy, canned coconut milk and it would be delicious)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons good vanilla (most recipes call for a bean but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (my variation)

The reason you can sub coconut milk (or probably any other kind) is that the cornstarch does the thickening work for you. In recipes that call for cream, you don’t need the cornstarch.

Heat your milk in a heavy saucepan on a low to medium until it bubbles around the edges. Remove it from the heat and don’t let it boil. In another bowl, beat all of the other ingredients until the egg yolks look foamy. beatingcustardSlowly drizzle some of the egg mixture into the cooling milk, beating quickly to ensure the eggs don’t cook. Once your eggs are pretty diluted, start going the other way, pouring the milk into the bowl of eggs. Then, transfer all of it back to the saucepan and cook about 10 – 15 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Stir constantly, use a low heat, and do not allow it to boil. It’s up to you how thick you want the mixture. I was going for pouring kind so I stopped at about 10 minutes but you could go more like 20 and get a firmer custard.

When you are satisfied that it’s thick enough (some recipes tell you to coat the back of a spoon), pour into small ceramic bowls or a pitcher, depending on how you are serving it, and apply plastic wrap either touching the top to prevent skin forming or not, if you like the skin. Serve immediately over cakes or berries or refrigerate and serve later.

This recipe yielded enough custard for 8 good sized-servings. Make more if you are inviting coyotes.


Photo credits: All photos, except custard being stirred, taken by Jacqueline Simon


About bakingnotwriting

I'm a writer who is always baking! Or a baker who is always writing...No. Other way around.
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13 Responses to Custard and Coyotes

  1. Nada says:

    I’m not a fan of the custard either but that last picture looks downright delicious.

    As far as the coyote – he should consider himself lucky he didn’t touch my God Dog.

  2. ChgoJohn says:

    Coyotes are appearing everywhere now. I’ve seen them and they’re in a number of our neighborhoods. In this area, though, skunks are more the problem and what is it about cats? One of the neighborhood cats has been “adopted” by them and can be seen romping with the young skunks in the mornings. Wouldn’t want to welcome that cat home for it’s morning meal.
    I do like custard and this would be great with fresh fruit this Summer, just as you’ve served it in the final photo. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aren’t cats funny? Mine probably would have befriended skunks too in his outdoor days. He thinks he’s a dog which explains some of his eccentricity but not why the coyotes didn’t eat him. In this day and age, we still don’t have an effective anti-skunking remedy. The chihuahua across the street gets skunked all the time and you just gotta get used to the smell!

  3. jennypugh says:

    I too grew up eating Birds custard, a lot of people leave it to get a skin on it! I’m rubbish at making it and it usually ends up like scrambled eggs by the end. Your recipe looks delicious, I’m definitely going to try it soon 🙂

    • Do it! And let me know what you think. The only tricky bit is not allowing the eggs to cook but if you put a tiny bit in the hot milk and whisk like crazy, you will be OK.

  4. Theryn says:

    I’ve never made custard with custard powder, but it’s the magical mystery ingredient in Nanaimo bars (which are delicious). Also: coyote!

    • Where was your coyote?!!! That’s alarming. At least mine was in the wild! In LA, I used to see coyotes all the time but those guys were scrawny — not like your healthy-looking guy.

  5. Sheryl says:

    The traditional pourable custard sounds really good.

  6. My Dad loved that kind of custard. It’s sort of a topping for fruit or really dry cakes!

  7. ecozee says:

    hi, you know, the birds custard isn’t as yellow any more, they’ve taken most of the colouring out, it’s not the same. Occasionally, I buy the instant stuff for camping trips, it comes in a single serve sachet and you add boiling water to it – we pour it hot over mcVities Ginger Cake great for warming you up on a British summer’s evening. My other custard story is this….this Christmas, the first Christmas without my Mum, I had to pick up the baton and make her famous trifle. I was photographing the process for my blog, taking careful pictures of each stage, I made the most delicious custard (from scratch) and then managed to drop my expensive camera right in it. The lens shutters glued up – my husband kinda fixed it but it often needs a poke to open/close the lens shutters and is decidedly unreliable know. I blame this whole bogging lark – wrecking your your camera by dropping it in custard never used to happen in the old days!

    • I didn’t realize they didn’t color the custard anymore. How odd! Egg yolks in the UK are a completely different color from here in the US and I didn’t understand why the yoke of the Cadbury’s creme egg was orange until I moved there.

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