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I have followed the instructions in this video from Delia Smith precisely, twice:

https://www.deliaonline.com/cookery-school/second-term-perfect-eggs/lesson-6-separate-ways-eggs-part-2

What I get from the final product is a custard which is very egg-like is taste. Not overpoweringly so, but enough that it puts people off eating it.

Is this because there are 6 egg yolks or is there an obvious mistake that a newbie like me is likely to make?

Is it simply that 6 egg yolks is too much? Would the custard be a lot thinner and runnier if I reduce it to, say, 3?

The recipe in full:

  1. 6 egg yolks
  2. 600ml heavy cream
  3. 125g caster sugar
  4. 1 level table spoon of cornflour
  5. 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

Heat the cream on the lowest setting.

Sieve the cornflour and sugar together.

Mix the egg yolks into the cornflour and sugar until smooth.

Mix the vanilla essence into the egg yolk mixture.

When a single bubble appears on the surface of the cream, indicating the cream is just about simmering, pour the pan of cream slowly into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Once the cream is all mixed in, return to the pan and place back on the same low heat and continue whisking until the desired thickness is achieved.

Put in a dish and serve or cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

  • 1
    Hello Matt, requiring people to watch a 10 minute video before they can start thinking what went wrong with your custard is not very friendly to potential answerers, and also there is a good possibility that years from now, people will want to understand the question (and the solutions which will hopefully appear in the meantime) but that the link will no longer be alive. So I would ask you to post a summary of the recipe (ingredients, amounts and basic steps) you followed. – rumtscho Jul 12 '18 at 16:50
  • True. The recipe is only the first couple of minutes but when I can I will summarise. In short, it has six eggs, but otherwise a regular custard, I believe. – Matt W Jul 12 '18 at 17:58
  • I’d like to point out, after I’ve just added the recipe from the video, that I have trouble avoiding the yolks turning a little lumpy when mixing with the sugar and cornflour. Is that the egg scrambling or is it fine to whisk that in as long as it turns out smooth in the end? – Matt W Jul 13 '18 at 11:54
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To reiterate a bit what @dlb said, the egg yolk is what provides the thickness and structure to your custard, so if you cut the yolks by half, you will definitely get something thinner. However, while the eggs are obviously the source of the eggy flavor, there are ways to try and remedy that beyond reducing the egg.

The first thing I would try is just adding an extra teaspoon or two of vanilla. Also, since your recipe does not include salt, add a pinch or two of salt (you won't taste it, but it will make the sweet and vanilla flavors stand out a bit more.) Flavor is a balancing act, and it makes sense to start with the smallest changes you can.

Another thing you can try is replacing some of the cream with evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. Those both have a very strong milky flavor that could balance out the egginess, but of course that might not seem any better to you or your friends. If you think your custards plenty thick as it is, you could even just add a tablespoon or two directly, instead of fussing with substitutions.

if you are determined to use fewer eggs, however, you could just go in a more pudding direction-- Basically add some more starch/flour to make up for the missing egg yolks. You will get a different texture, so experiment with your ratios. You can also look around at different pudding and custard recipes online just to get an idea of different egg/starch/etc. ratios out there.

Custard and pudding are honestly pretty forgiving mixtures. Even if you completely screw up and lumpify your mixture, put it through a strainer and you've got something. If it's way too liquid? You can use that as an ice cream or French buttercream base. Are all your strainers dirty? Get some flour, yeast, that box of expired raisins from the back of the cabinet, some spices, and bam. You've got a fruit cake you can freeze and give someone for Christmas! (I actually made fruit cake with some custard I had curdled all to heck on an unfamiliar stovetop. But it was February so I just kept it lol.)

  • ,,,,One time before I knew what I was doing, I'd let my custard get thick lumps of starch in it that weren't breaking up nicely. So I got out the immersion blender. And it blended up suuuuper smooth and I was so happy! Until I realized I'd demolished all the egg protein structures and it would never set up right. Oh, I tried filling my cream puff anyway, and it kind of worked, until my dad bit into it and became cream-beard the pirate. So I froze the rest and put it in a blender with some frozen strawberries. Best milkshake I EVER had. You can always find a use for "ruined" custard. XD – kitukwfyer Jul 14 '18 at 0:19
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With the full recipe, it does not seem to me that the egg ratio is particularly high. Most recipes I have seen and use tend to be around 2 eggs per cup (US), and yours is 6 for about 2 1/2, so slightly higher than what I have seen as about average, but well within range.

To me, egg custards always have some amount of egg taste, which is pleasant or offensive according to taste. When skimming the video given (had no audio available, so I am just going by visuals) I felt they were adding cream mixture too quickly to temper the eggs without cooking, but that is opinion only. If the hot is add to quickly though, it will scramble the eggs and give a much stronger egg taste. One technique is to sieve the custard after tempering to remove any solidified egg, and some are happy with this result. To me, it removes the solids, but not the flavor.

I will give a personal critique of the video, I frankly have never heard of breaking a custard and expecting it to come back together in a reasonable tasting form, but the video maker obviously disagreed. I can only say that I assume they are happy with a stronger egg taste than many of would be.

If you wanted to experiment, I would think dropping 1, maybe 2 eggs might still give you adequate setting power, but going all the way to 3 would seem too big a cut. Try experimenting, reducing 1 yolk at a time and see if you like the results. Also try slowing you introduction of the hot cream mix to the egg and see if this helps.

  • Thank you. I agree with your remarks about the video. Is there a reason you know of why the cream is added with any temperature at all? Why not just mix everything together and then heat? – Matt W Jul 14 '18 at 6:30
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    @MattW You are tempering the eggs. You want them to heat, but not cook per se. You need to add them slowly to bring the eggs up to temperature without cooking them. If you add them to cold liquid, then heat it, they cook. If you add fast, they cook. The technique as I was taught, was add One mixing spoon or ladle, then mix well, then add two, mix well, then four, etc. until all is added. There are many methods, key though is to add slowly. – dlb Jul 15 '18 at 16:24
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Your recipe seems reasonable, I wouldn't cut down on the egg yolks.

However, I saw in one of your comments you had trouble avoiding the yolks turning a little lumpy when mixing with the sugar; this is because if you leave sugar on egg yolks without mixing immediately you will get a chemical reaction causing the eggs to coagulate. So make sure you mix as soon as the sugar makes contact with the egg.

Also as mentioned in one of the other answers, make sure you don't add the hot cream too quickly as that could cook the yolks.

  • I have never heard of eggs coagulating because of contact with sugar. A rule of thumb in food technology is that when you make custard, the more sugar you use, the slower your coagulation rates (which in turn allows you to have more acid or higher temperatures in your recipe). – rumtscho Jul 14 '18 at 10:22
  • It's true! If you just pour sugar onto egg yolks, get distracted, and walk away before mixing it in, the yolks will form a skin that will NOT break apart easily. I don't know if it's just an effect of dehydration or if there's any chemical interaction going on like if you marinate meat in grated onions, but I've definitely had it happen. – kitukwfyer Jul 14 '18 at 13:45

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