How to make custard

How to make custard

How to make custard

by Great British Chefs8 December 2014

How to make custard

The traditional British dessert accompaniment of custard – also known as crème anglaise - doesn’t have to be bought ready-made, making it from scratch is both straightforward and rewarding. In its basic form, it is made from just three ingredients; sugar, milk (and/or cream) and egg yolk.




  • 350ml of milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 25g of sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod


Add the milk and vanilla pod to a pan set over a low-medium heat and heat until just beginning to simmer. Then, remove from the heat and leave to infuse – the longer it is left the more pronounced the vanilla flavour will be
Using a wooden spoon, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. Using a wooden spoon prevents any air being incorporated, which will help to create a dense custard
Gradually pour in the slightly warm milk until you are left with a smooth liquid
Pour the liquid into a clean pan and reheat over a low heat, whisking continuously. It is important to heat gently as a high temperature will result in the eggs scrambling. Continue to heat until the liquid thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon
Pass the liquid through a sieve into a clean bowl. If not using straight away cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming


While the basic process for making a custard or crème anglaise generally stays the same, the ratio of sugar, milk or cream and egg yolk will vary across different recipes, as it is largely down to personal preference.

Using only double cream, as both Marcus Wareing and Chris Horridge seem to prefer, makes the consistency of the custard thicker, whereas a mix of whole milk and cream results in a thinner consistency more suited to pouring over a dessert. The amount of egg yolks used will also have an impact (the more you use, the richer the flavour will be), while the amount of sugar used should depend largely on how sweet you prefer your custard to be. Vanilla is a classic flavouring for custard, and recipes generally call for pods to be used. If you can’t get hold of pods, however, use vanilla essence instead.


While a home-made custard is put to good use by pouring over a crumble or sticky toffee pudding, it can also be used as the base for lots of other desserts including ice cream, crème brulee, crème Catalan, baked custard and custard tart.

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