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Making fresh custard with eggs and milk isn't really difficult, but takes time away from preparing other bits of the meal, and can go wrong (e.g. bits of scrambled eggs from too fast heating). Thinking about this question - Why do I need to use oven to make creme brulee? - about why crème brûlée is cooked in the oven rather than the hob, my question is:

Is it feasible to make a pourable custard just by mixing eggs, milk (or cream?), vanilla and sugar and baking it in the oven? If so what time and temperature should be used?

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Yes, you can certainly make a pourable custard in the oven. The difference between pourable and firm custard is only in the amount of eggs. The custard will get done nevertheless, at the same final temperature reached. You will have to wait for a few hours instead of having it done in a few minutes, but it will work.

The time and temperature are exactly as for the firm custard. The temperature should be around 100 C, maybe up to 120, and the time is until you hit 83 to 86 internal.

What you can't do is a pipeable custard. For that, you need enough yolks (and other fat in the recipe) to make a very thick custard, but you cannot let it set firm. So, you have to stir it constantly.


Seeing that there are similar questions cropping up, a few more general words: Your food does not know if it is in an oven or on a stovetop, or somewhere else. What matters for it is 1) the pattern of heat transfer over time, and 2) the right agitation. The two do interact to some extent (in the example of this question, you can heat a custard to a certain final temperature by either adding hot milk to the eggs and stirring really quickly, or by sticking the mixture into the oven and waiting until everything has been heated up), but typically, it is the agitation that limits your choices.

Naturally, some foods have very strict requirements for agitation, heat transfer pattern, or both (e.g. a whipped cream needs tons of agitation, while a lasagna cannot have any), while others don't. If you know the requirements of a food, it doesn't matter what device you use to create them. If you don't know them, or know that the tolerable range is wide, best stick with the standard methods, they have become a standard for a reason.

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  • I'm chuckling at the idea of whisking a lasagne continuously on the stovetop.
    – dbmag9
    Jun 24 at 9:09
  • @dbmag9 glad I could bring some humor into your day, we can all use such moments :)
    – rumtscho
    Jun 24 at 9:22
  • A side note - the last statement is of course very generalized. There certainly are some instances where the optimal method is not the standard one. Also, sometimes people care for something other than being optimal, e.g. for having some fun while experimenting. I am not trying to forbid anybody for using any other methods, just pointing out the best strategy (on average) for people who are unsure what choice to make and want the least hassle with the highest chance of success.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 24 at 9:25
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As stated in my answer to the question you reference, my experience is using sous vide to achieve these results. You will need about 180F (82C) for about 40 minutes using sous vide. It can probably be done in the oven, keeping track of temperature and viscosity, but in this case, it's probably quicker to use the stove top. If you are worried about curdling, use a double boiler (or stainless bowl over a pot of water). It really doesn't take that long to thicken in this manner.

However you choose to do this, the solution is to agitate, stir, or pour during and/or after cooking. Custard is an egg fluid gel that sets because of the networked structure of proteins. If you disturb that network, you have a pourable custard that will likely not set up. This is why set custard is prepared in ramekins or vessels in which it is served.

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