Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Custard or creme Anglaise?

Custard – or creme Anglaise if you prefer – is good enough on its own but you can add Mini Rolls, mince pies, a bun, Christmas pud, some un-wrapped Celebrations for a magical existence.

You know what custard is in French? It’s called ‘creme Anglaise’ (English cream). Lah-dee-dah!

I only know this because I have a Corsican friend who once served up a dessert called ‘ile flottante’ (floating island) which was basically a meringue floating in custard, or as he called it, creme Anglaise.


As much as ‘creme Anglaise’ sounds nice and highfalutin, I prefer my custard to be called custard.

The family would surely think my head astray if I asked if they wanted creme Anglaise with their apple pie.

Anyway, in a bid to maximise taste this Christmas, today’s custard recipe (you can call it creme Anglaise if you like), will be the first in a series of recipes geared towards Christmas.

I’m open to suggestions, but I reckon in coming weeks we might have potatoes roasted in goose fat or carrots in butter and honey glaze
or baked ham or idea for left- overs.

Of course, next week I might be eating another Mexican dish in which case this Yuletide series will be given the heave-ho (ho ho).

“Sure what are you on about Devlin? Custard comes in a can!”

That it does and I have opened and emptied a great many tins of Ambrosia custard in my day and enjoyed every one. But, whilst Ambrosia is really good, this stuff is really great. And what better time to push the serving boat out than at Christmas.


If you were of a mind to have this with your Christmas puds or mince pies or even Mini Rolls on the big day, you could even make on Christmas Eve.

Covered in clingfilm, it’ll keep in the fridge and to re-heat all you have to do is stand the jug or bowl in a pan of scarcely bubbling water.

There are a great many recipes out there for custard from scratch but I follow Delia’s; if ever there was a woman who knew how to make custard, it’s her.

Although whereas she uses vanilla extract, I use a vanilla pod. You might as well go for max affect.

Also, you can try this recipe using double cream, milk or single cream. But you can probably guess what I’ll use.

Never made custard before? Have a crack.


6 big free-range egg yolks
1 vanilla pod
50g of caster sugar
scant tbsp of cornflour
570ml of double cream


This isn’t a massive deal, it just takes a bit of time.

  • Start by mixing the cornflour and sugar and set aside.
  • Split the vanilla pod down the middle using a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds.
  • Add the double cream to a saucepan, place on a medium heat and to that, add the vanilla pod and all the seeds.
  • Let it heat gently until it’s almost at simmering point. I test this by periodically dipping my little finger in and if it’s REALLY hot, it’s
  • Also, small bubbles will begin to appear around the outside.
  • As the cream is heating (stir this occasionally with a wooden spoon) whisk together the egg yolks and the cornflour/sugar mix in a bowl until well combined.
  • When the cream is ready, remove the vanilla pod (you can throw this away or rinse and dry it and add it to some sugar to make vanilla sugar) and then gradually pour this vanilla cream into the eggy-sugary mixture, whisking all along.
  • You have to go gradually or the hot cream will scramble the eggs.
  • When it’s all in, return the mixture to the saucepan and, still on a gentle heat, continue whisking until the custard is thick.
  • Again, you want to bring it to near simmering point.
  • If you over heat it at this stage and it starts to look bitty, take it off the heat and whisk away until it goes smooth again.
  • And that, dear readers is all she wrote.

You can, of course, serve it up right away but poured into a jug and covered in clingy and it’ll keep in the fridge for a day at least.

A bowl of this stuff is good enough on its own, even cold, but add anything decadent to the equation (Mini Rolls, mince pies, a bun, Christmas pud, some un-wrapped Celebrations) and you’re onto another plane of magical existence.

You could even knock up a meringe and make an ile flottante!

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