Creamy homemade vanilla custard is, without a doubt, a regular feature in my home. It’s super easy to make, delicious and I think once you’ve tried it you might become addicted!
Yes! I hear you, it’s easy to buy powdered custard but homemade custard is far superior and only requires a little more effort. Plus it uses just a few simple ingredients that are usually in our kitchen cupboards.
Plus I have a gluten-free and vegan vanilla custard recipe which is also delicious, super easy and quick to make.
If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment below and rate it – it’s really helpful to me and the other readers. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #thegourmetlarder on Instagram. I love seeing what you come up with! 🙂
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CUSTARD AND PASTRY CREAM ?
Custard (crème anglaise) is often confused with pastry cream (crème pâtissière). Traditional custard is more of a liquid and can be poured, using just the egg yolks to thicken the sauce, while pastry cream uses starch as a thickener.
The only exception is when making a vegan custard as it contains no egg. Cornflour is used to thicken the sauce just enough to create that gorgeous silky consistency.
If you want your custard to be thicker like the well-known packaged brands or like pastry cream, simply add 3 tablespoons of cornflour (US-cornstarch) to the mixed egg and sugar in step 3 with the vanilla. Ensure there are no lumps and then add the milk as per the recipe. Because the flour stabilises the eggs the mixture can be brought to a boil at the end to ensure it thickens and cooks the flour.
Pastry cream is the base of many desserts, you can add butter for creaminess, whipped cream for lightness or any other flavouring you want such as chocolate, coffee etc.
- EASE: easy.
- FREE FROM: this recipe is available egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free in my vegan recipe section.
- GREAT FOR: mid-week or weekend baking.
- TASTE & TEXTURE: silky vanilla cream.
- SERVING: can be served hot or cold served over puddings, tarts, pies or even on its own.
- QUANTITY: 500ml
- TIME: 10 minutes
For this recipe all you need are these ingredients:
- Full-fat milk – is the base liquid for this recipe, alternatively, it can be replaced with a non-milk alternative such as coconut milk.
- Double or heavy cream – adds that rich silky creaminess to the recipe.
- Medium egg yolks – are used to add richness, colour and to thicken the custard.
- Caster or granulated white sugar – adds sweetness, add or remove as prefered.
- Pure vanilla extract or paste – gives the custard that delicious aroma and taste.
TIP: I highly recommend adding a good pinch of salt to your sweet sauces. It would seem counterproductive, but it’s not, I promise. Salt helps balance out the sweetness and richness. It also elevates the other ingredients, bringing out the best characteristics of any sauce recipe. In a seemingly absurd or contradictory way, salt intensifies the mouth’s ability to taste sweetness. Sodium sends signals to move glucose into the sweet taste receptor cells in our tongue, triggering the cells to register sweetness. The result is that salt not only alerts our ‘salt sensitivity’, but also our ‘sweet sensitive’ taste buds.
I recommend Maldon Sea salt flakes or Cornish sea salt.
WHAT VARIATIONS CAN I MAKE?
- A lighter custard – you can use milk only or make crème Diplomat. Fold in 125ml soft whipped cream to the cooled custard, perfect for filling tarts, eclairs and cakes.
- For a chocolate version – add 2 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder to the sugar and cornstarch mixture or stir 50g of melted dark chocolate into the hot pastry cream at the end.
- Coffee version – add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee to the milk while it is coming to a boil.
- Adding alcohol – add 1/2 tablespoon of your choice to the finished custard: Grand Marinier, Limoncello, Malibu, brandy, rum, etc.
If you experiment, I would love to know how you get on and share it with the other readers.
VEGAN RECIPE OPTION
This recipe lends itself quite well to being adapted and made gluten-free and vegan.
Here is my vegan vanilla custard recipe:
- 2 tablespoons of cornflour (US – cornstarch)
- 250 ml plant-based milk (coconut, soya, rice or oat)
- 250 ml dairy-free cream
- 60 g caster or granulated white sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste
- pinch of turmeric (optional for colour)
In to a small bowl, mix enough milk with the cornflour to form a smooth liquid paste.
Place the cornflour mixture into a medium saucepan with all the other ingredients and stir over a medium heat until the custard has thickened.
Serving: one serving.
Nutrition information can vary for a recipe based on factors such as precision of measurements, brands, ingredient freshness, or the source of nutrition data.
I strive to keep the information as accurate as possible but make no warranties regarding its accuracy.
I encourage you to make your own calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
STORAGE AND FREEZING
This custard will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, cover with cling film, lightly pressing it against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and absorbing other odours from your fridge. After storing in the fridge give it a quick whisk to break it up as it will set and lose that silky texture.
Freezing: Not suitable, the mixture will lose its texture becoming grainy and split as it thaws.
TOOLS YOU’LL NEED
TIP: I highly recommend using metric measurements and a digital kitchen scale, rather than cup measurements. If you have ever ended up with dry, dense or crumbly baked goods, it might be because of inaccurate volume measurements, not all measuring cups are made equally. All my recipes on this blog are carefully developed so that you can easily recreate them in your own kitchen with success, using metric measurements. It is also a lot easier, less messy and you will get far better, consistent results. 🙂
If you are interested in understanding conversions, here you will find the best conversion chart.
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How to avoid custard skin – is easy to do, simply cover with cling film, lightly pressing it against the surface.
Using real vanilla – I strongly recommend using a vanilla pod or vanilla bean paste if you are able to, the flavour is totally worth it! Alternatively, you can also use pure vanilla extract but it won’t give you those beautiful vanilla specs.
Sweetness – can be adjusted as you wish by increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar.
To avoid scrambled eggs – do not boil the mixture when you place it back on the stove in step 4. Simply heat the mixture SLOWLY until it thickens and then remove from the heat to cool. (To save lumpy custard, simply pass it through a fine-mesh sieve)
If using cornstarch – it is important to use cold liquids for mixing, as warm or hot liquids will cause the cornflour to coagulate and become lumpy.
- 250 ml milk
- 250 ml double or heavy cream (US – heavy cream)
- 1 vanilla pod (or 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste)
- 4 medium egg yolks
- 60 g caster sugar
- Bring the milk and cream to a boil, in a medium saucepan.
- Slice the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add the seeds to the saucepan along with the pod.
- In a medium sized heat-proof bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale.
- When the milk and cream have come to a boil, remove the vanilla pod and pour 1/3 into the egg mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined.Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk and continue whisking. (Whisking is important otherwise the custard may catch and burn in the saucepan.)
- Once the mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and pour it into a clean bowl. DO NOT LET IT BOIL, or the eggs will scramble.
- Cover with cling film, lightly pressing it against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Serve with your favourite dessert or leave to cool.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW IT TURNED OUT FOR YOU!
I love to hear your feedback, please leave your thoughts and a rating using the comments section below!