Custard, crème anglaise and crème pâtissière – what’s the difference?
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk or cream and egg yolks.
Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce (crème anglaise) to a thick pastry cream (crème pâtissière) used to fill éclairs.
Most common custards are used as desserts or dessert sauces and typically include sugar and vanilla.
Flour, corn starch or gelatin are added as thickeners.
Custard is usually cooked very gently in a saucepan on a stove, or in a double boiler , or baked in the oven with or without a water bath (bain-marie).
Is it easy to make?
It will take a bit of practise and some patience which will help you wind down.
In a traditional custard such as a crème anglaise, where egg is used alone as a thickener, boiling will result in over cooking and curdling. In a pastry cream the starch will prevent this.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, split
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
Combine the milk and cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Split the vanilla pod with a knife and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until silky. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Return the custard to the saucepan. Stir over a low heat for about five minutes until it thickens and leaves a path on the back of the spoon when you draw your finger across it. It must not boil. Pour the custard into a bowl. If you are not using it hot, cover and allow to cool down. The custard can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.