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I've tried numerous recipes, watched different videos, and adopted different techniques, but to this day I can't make good plain custard.

Some of the issues with previous custards:

  • Egg taste ( I realize this is probably due to me pouring hot over eggs, but I assure you it's not, I do it very very slowly)
  • Deflation (the custard deflates in the middle) I'm assuming this is due to me over mixing, or not adding flour / baking powder.
  • Texture ( sometimes the taste is frigging amazing, but it's either too runny or too hard.

I've given up on making custard and by mine "fresh" from a local baker.

Recipe I use:

  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

  • Combine until not foamy
  • bake in a water bath until stiff
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Have you asked your baker? –  hobodave Jul 19 '10 at 16:43
    
@hobodave - yes, she said with a thick accent "itz a seecrut" –  dassouki Jul 19 '10 at 16:45
    
Lame. My baker shares "secrets" with me all the time. –  hobodave Jul 19 '10 at 17:02
1  
Well if this isn't answered by next weekend I'll let you know. :) –  hobodave Jul 19 '10 at 17:08
1  
Are you trying to make Crème Anglaise or Crème Patisserie? –  codeinthehole Jul 19 '10 at 17:51
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Custard should taste eggy. This is a feature, not a bug. However, from your mention of flour, I think what you're talking about is a souffle, not something like a creme brulee or along those lines. Would that be correct?

Edited based on subsequent clarifications:

Ah. Your method is sorely lacking, and your ingredients are off. You need to temper the yolks first, you need to use yolks only, and use cream instead of milk. Here is a smaller version of what I use at work for creme brulee: - 1L 35% cream - 11 egg yolks - 1C sugar - 1 vanilla bean, scraped

Bring cream to a simmer with the vanilla seeds and pod (you can use approx 1.5tsp vanilla extract, pure not artificial, instead). While it is heating, beat the yolks and sugar together until just incorporated. Pour the cream into the eggs whisking briskly to prevent curdling. Pour mixture through a fine chinois. Skim off foam, pour into ramekins. Place ramekins in a pan, add water to 1/2way up the sides. Cover pan with foil. Bake at 275 (convection) or 325 (non convection) for approx 40 minutes, until wobbly in the centre but set. Chill until set, eat.

The deflation is caused by a souffle effect coming from including the egg whites, which are never used in a custard--custards, creme anglaise, etc, are always yolks only. When you include the whites, air will be trapped inside temporarily, and will escape/collapse when the mixture cools. If you bake until fully stiff with my method, you will get hard and rubbery custard by the time it is set in the fridge.

Also, save the whites--they freeze well--for meringues or souffles.

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1  
I actually meant custard and not soufflé. I don't add flour to my custard but some batches deflate for some reason. –  dassouki Jul 19 '10 at 17:40
    
okay. could you let me know what recipe and technique you are using? I should be able to troubleshoot from there. –  daniel Jul 19 '10 at 17:58
    
i included the recipe –  dassouki Jul 20 '10 at 14:08
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I was wondering if you could edit your answer and include the recipe modifications. –  dassouki Jul 20 '10 at 17:18
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edited answer with directions. –  daniel Jul 21 '10 at 5:57
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Is the milk / cream too hot (/or cold) when you whisk it with the egg yolks? Do you return the mixture to the pan and cook it for long enough (slowly enough?)

Which recipe are you using?

EDIT

As roux mentioned in the comments to your question, the recipe you're using doesn't sound like it's up to the job.

I've used this recipe for Crème Anglaise with success in the past. Maybe it could be adapted to your requirements?

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Creme-Anglaise-4984

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I included the recipe –  dassouki Jul 20 '10 at 14:08
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If you want to try another recipe, here's a great one from Delia Smith (author, food critic and British institution).

http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sweet/traditional-english-custard.html

PS. Interesting to note that in America you call it French custard, while in France its known as Crème Anglaise (English cream). Here in Britain, its just 'custard' ;-)

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Creme Anglaise is a different animal. What we are talking about here is a set custard, with the approximate consistency of jelly (for American readers, jelly is what Britons call jello). You are referring to a soft, pourable custard, which in French terminology is Creme Anglaise, due to its popularity on the good side of the Channel. –  daniel Feb 28 '11 at 0:05
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Ah ok, you mean like the custard in an egg custard (e.g. goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/260241/Baked-egg-custard). PS. You might want to look at a typo in your comment - you wrote 'good side' of the Channel. Surely, monsieur, you mean the 'crappy side' ;-) –  5arx Feb 28 '11 at 0:15
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First, do not use exclusively whole eggs, you got to have more yolk than whole eggs in your mixture otherwise the texture is compromised.

Never forget that you're dealing with a specialization of a base mixture. The ingredient you provided would make a somewhat eggy crème anglaise, whereas you're seeking the perfect crème patissière.

Crème anglaise is simply eggs / yolks mixed with vanilla extract and a bit of sugar on which you pour milk and heat slowly until the yolk starts to thicken the sauce, you have to take it off the heat as soon as it thickens and immediately cool it off, it would be wise to have a batch of ice in the sink to lay the saucepan on it, dont forget to stir rapidly so the heat will evaporate thus preventing the egg yolk to coagulate more.

Crème patissière is a variant of crème anglaise as you need to add a little flour either with a roux or a technique called singer, which is basically pouring flour lightly over the mixture as it heat. This preparation requires less care as the flour will prevent chemically the yolk from forming lump as you stir and the sauce thickens.

From crème anglaise you can cook crème brulé, crème caramel and serve it on dessert / breakfast items.

From this base recipe you can derive it and add flour and it will turn into a creme patissiere, which is basically the ultimate custard item, it is rather simple to execute , you just gotta make sure you dont use whole eggs exclusively and don't overpour flour in the mixture.

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Downvoter would like to say something ? –  maximegir yesterday
    
Not sure, but I guess because you are talking about crème pâtissière, and the OP is not asking about that. –  Mien yesterday
    
Custard is creme pâtissière. –  maximegir yesterday
    
@Mien, you are wrong to think that Crème patissière isnt custard, and the OP was specifically asking about how to make the perfect custard, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Custard, a simple google search prove you wrong: Custard is a generalization of Creme patissiere / Creme anglaise. Please undo the downvote. –  maximegir 13 hours ago
    
1) I did not downvote you. 2) He asked about crème moulée, which is a type of custard indeed, but not all custards are crème moulée. –  Mien 2 hours ago
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