requirement of a successful custard is that its texture be right, and
the temperature at which the baking is done is largely responsible for
this point. Too high a temperature or too long cooking will cause the
custard to curdle and leave the edges full of holes. A smoother texture
may be obtained if egg yolks alone instead of the yolks and whites are
used to thicken the custard. The proportions are usually given in each
To make a custard of a firmer and harder texture, a greater proportion
of eggs should be used.
no special skill is required in the preparation of baked custard, but
care must be taken during the baking in order that the right
temperature be applied for the proper length of time.
may be baked
in individual baking dishes and then served in these or it may be
cooked in a large baking dish and served either before or after it is
placed on the table.
Individual baking dishes are perhaps more
satisfactory, for, as there is a smaller amount of material, the heat
can penetrate more quickly and evenly to the center.
Whatever kind of
dish is used, however, should be placed in a pan of warm water, so that
the custard will bake evenly.
water in the pan should not
this tends to make the custard whey, or separate.
Several tests can be applied to custard to determine whether it is
sufficiently baked. As the heat penetrates to the center last, this
part is the last to cook and it is therefore the place where the
testing should be done.
One test consists in touching the center with the tip of the finger to
find out whether it is firm or not.
A more common test, however, is testing with the eating knife. To
perform this test, the blade of a eating knife is inserted in the
center. If the blade comes out clean, it may be known that the custard
is sufficiently baked, but if the mixture sticks to the knife, the
custard requires more baking.
custard should be stirred continuously during its cooking. Then it will
not set nor thicken as does baked custard, even though the proportion
of eggs and milk may be higher.
as the soft custard mixture lightly coats a spoon it is done. Then it
should be removed from the fire and the inner part of the double boiler
removed from the outer part to avoid the application of any more heat.
If too much heat has been applied or the soft custard has been cooked
too long, the result will be a curdled mass. As soon as this is
observed, the custard should be removed from the hot water, placed at
once into a pan of cold water, and beaten vigorously with a rotary egg
beater or mixer. To improve it further, it may be poured through a fine
wire sieve or strainer. Unless the curding has gone too far or the egg
has been cooked a great deal too long, this treatment will produce a
very decided improvement in the custard and possibly bring it to a
|Did You Know?
its thickness, or solidity, a true custard (or plain custard) depends
largely on the thickening property of the protein material in the eggs.
Here, again, as in the preparation of other foods, only a certain
proportion of milk and eggs will thicken, or solidify, upon being
In general, the correct proportion for a true custard is 1 egg
to 1 cup of milk. So important is this proportion that it should be
Before the eggs are added to the milk, they are, of course,
beaten, but their beating is a matter of little consequence, for they
are used merely to supply thickening and give richness and not to
produce lightness. Therefore, they need only be mixed well and beaten
slightly, as any increase in the amount of the beating adds nothing.
The sweetening and
flavoring used in custards should be in sufficient quantity to suit the
tastes of those who are to eat the dessert. However, the usual
proportion of sugar is 1 tablespoonful to 1 egg and 1 cup of milk. A
tiny pinch of salt added to a mixture of this kind improves its flavor
and should never be omitted.
To obtain variety in
custards, chocolate, caramel, maple, and
other flavors may be used in their preparation.