Umm, baked custard, it is one of the most comforting sweet treats. Easy to whip up with just a few ingredients, custard makes for a great make-ahead dessert. Steamed or baked, it’s good both ways.
The custard can be baked 2 ways – in a bain-marie (a water bath) or dry, as in the dish containing the custard is simply placed on a sheet pan and baked. The difference is in the texture and crust. Custard cooked in a bain-marie tends to be creamier with a very thin layer of crust at the top.
On the other hand a custard baked dry tends to form a somewhat thicker crust at the top and browns all around – at the sides and bottom of the custard, creating really yummy bits for eating pleasure. The texture could be firmer than the bain-marie cooked custard but it can be controlled if you remove the custard from the oven just before it is done cooking so that the carry-over heat can finish cooking the custard outside of the oven. Like I said, either way works great.
For this recipe, I’ll give you 3 options for cooking – steamed, bain-marie and dry.
Custard is primarily made of 3 ingredients – milk, eggs and sugar. The basic custard mixture can be flavoured with spices, citrus zest or extracts/essences.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Add enough water to a large pot for steaming and set steamer in the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients and pour it through a sieve. Ladle the custard into a 1-liter heatproof bowl or into 4 regular-sized ramekins or similar bowls.
- Sprinkle with a dusting of nutmeg.
- Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and steam for 20 – 25 minutes or until the custard no longer jiggles. Carefully remove from steamer and cool.
- Serve at room temperature or refrigerate overnight and serve cold.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Set a kettle of water on the stove to boil.
- Get a large, deep baking pan in which the bowl or bowls of custard can sit comfortably.
- Whisk together the ingredients for the custard, pass through a sieve and pour the mixture into a 1-litre baking dish or ramekins. Sprinkle with a dusting of nutmeg Transfer the bowl/bowls to the baking dish. Carefully pour the boiling water into the pan to come up to the sides of the bowl/bowls and transfer to the oven.
- Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the middle when lightly touched is soft but not watery. Shut off the heat and remove pan from the oven.
- Transfer the custard to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate to serve cold.
For dry baking:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Whisk together the ingredients, pass through a sieve and pour into 1-litre bowl or ramekins. Assemble on baking sheet and sprinkle with a light dusting of nutmeg.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the centre jiggles slightly.
- Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate to serve cold.