Sunday, April 18, 2010
The ultimate comfort food
Baked custard might be an old-fashioned dessert but it is a dish that deserves to be made more often. It is the ultimate comfort food: its silky-smooth texture makes it deceptively easy to eat half of the dish before you realise how much you've eaten, but it also has an easy elegance to it that is more than the sum of its simple parts of cream, milk, eggs and sugar.
Thankfully, Donna Hay has resurrected this lovely dessert in the latest issue of her magazine. There's a step-by-step guide to making basic baked custard, plus twists to the base recipe using spices, chocolate, rice and brioche for a modern take.
I had forgotten how much I loved this dessert until I made it recently. Surprisingly, my toddler was not overly enthused by the custard, but Adam and I quickly polished off the dish before we realised how quickly we'd eaten it! Not to worry - this is a dish that doesn't keep and tastes best warm from the oven. Its comforting texture will enfold you like a cosy doona and it is a dessert to enjoy on cold nights.
From Donna Hay Magazine, issue 50
500ml single (pouring) cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs and 3 egg yolks, extra
110g caster (superfine) sugar
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit). Place the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over high heat until the mixture just comes to the boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the eggs, extra yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking well to combine.
Strain custard into a 1.5 litre capacity (6 cups) ovenproof dish.
Place dish in a water bath* and bake for 1 hour 25 minutes or until just set.
Remove from the water bath and allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4-6.
* To make a water bath, place the custard dish into a deep-sided baking dish and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the custard dish.