When 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.
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.
Printable recipe PDF? Click Pourable Custard Recipe.
Traditional, Pourable Custard
adapted from the Kitchn.com
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. Slowly 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