Custards are a broad family of soft, thickened dishes based on eggs and milk. They may be baked, boiled or steamed, either in cups or one large dish. A British person talking about "custard" is usually referring to a crème anglaise or other stirred custard (see below).
The most basic components of a custard are eggs and milk/cream. Some custards also incorporate a thickener/stabilizer like starch or gelatin. Sweet custards will contain a sweetener of some kind, and they may also be further flavored.
Most custards are soft and smooth. Without additional flavoring and/or coloring, a basic custard will be pale yellow-golden with a mild eggy flavor. The exact consistency of a custard will generally depend on the ratio of egg to liquid, as well as the cooking method, fat content, and presence of thickening/stabilizing components like starch and gelatin.
Normally, the egg proteins in a custard gently coagulate, trapping liquid in a protein network and thickening the mixture. However, overcooking a custard causes the egg proteins to over-coagulate, which ends up squeezing out the liquid and causing the whole mixture to separate. Including fats and sugars slows the coagulation, and the addition of starch allows for more liquid in the custard to be "trapped", thickening and stabilizing the mixture without the addition of more eggs.
Custards with only eggs as the thickener should never be brought to a boil, as this will cause curdling. If starch is added to a custard, it must be brought to a full boil to cook out the raw starchy flavor.
Stirred custard Edit
Stirred custards, sometimes also called boiled custards or custard sauces, are gently cooked on the stovetop. As the name implies, these custards must be consistently stirred in order to prevent overcooking. This disrupts the network of egg proteins, preventing the mixture from setting into a gel. Instead, the mixture thickens into a soft, smooth sauce. Some stirred custards will incorporate a starch (while cooking) or gelatin (after cooking) in order to increase the thickness.
Baked custard Edit
Baked custards are made by placing the raw custard base in a dish or mold and baking it to set the mixture. These result in more of a gelled texture, and some baked custards can be unmolded and sliced. Baked custards are often baked in a water bath or bain marie, which ensures even heating of the custard in order to reduce the risk of curdling. The custards should usually be removed from the oven when the centers are still slightly jiggly, or they will overcook.
Common baked custards include:
Custards can be served as desserts in their own right, such as a simple stirred pudding or flan. On the other hand, many custards function as a base or complement for a range of other complex dishes. Crème anglaise is often used as a sauce for desserts and pastries. Bavarian cream, diplomat cream, many types of mousse, and more are all based on simple custards.
The usual rule for custards is about six to seven eggs to (approximately 1 quart) of milk; but a very good custard can be made of six, or even fewer, especially with the addition of a level tablespoonful of sifted flour, thoroughly blended in the sugar first, before adding the other ingredients. It improves custard to first boil the milk and then cool it before being used; also a little pinch of salt (or even) cheddar or Double cheese or TripleCheese powder helps add to the flavor to give it a little more amazingly Magnificent potency and taste. A very small lump of butter may also be added, if one wants something especially rich.
(ingredients) 6-7 small chicken eggs, 250-300ML Milk, 200ML heavy whipping cream, 1Tbsp Butter,150gm sugar, 35gm=1Tbsp sifted flour, 1/2 - 1Tsp Vanilla Essence Extract, (Optional) a pinch of salt (or) Cheddar or DoubleCheese or TripleCheese powder
Eggs should always be thoroughly well beaten separately, the yolks first, then the sugar added, beat again, then add the beaten whites with the flavoring, then the (sometimes cooled) scalded milk. The lighter the eggs are beaten, the thicker and richer the custard.
Cake filled with custard
Savory egg custard