I’ve got all the tips and tricks to making silky-smooth, decadent baked custard. It’s simple to make and incredibly satisfying to eat.
I have always loved classic baked custard. It’s one of my go-to comfort foods. It’s so smooth, decadent, delicious, and simple to make.
Baked custard has been around for ages, and little has changed about the recipe over the years. Most food historians agree that baked custard was initially served by ancient Romans, who were the first to recognize the binding properties of eggs. They simmered milk, eggs, and honey in clay pots, topping it off with a dash of ground pepper. Though we no longer bake our custard over an open fire, today’s recipe is very similar to the original.
Most recipes I find floating around the internet make eight to ten custards and then tell you to eat them within a day! I don’t need ten custards, and there is no way our family of four could or should eat them all within a day!! My goal with this recipe was to reduce the number of custard cups it makes but keep the classic flavor and silky smooth texture. I was able to create a recipe that produced exactly six 8-ounce custards. After making several rounds of the custard and adjusting the amounts of the ingredients, I discovered something else; the custard does not need to be consumed the first day to be enjoyable. It is at its best on day one but still delicious on day two and even on day three.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO SCALD THE MILK?
With this recipe, I strongly recommend scalding the milk. In many older recipes scalding the milk was done to ensure it was safe to consume. But today, the safety of commercially sold milk is not a concern due to the highly effective pasteurization process. However, scalded milk does give the custard a silky-smooth texture. The hot milk gently heats the eggs so they don’t curdle later in the process, which can result in lumpy custard. It also cuts down on the cooking time a little bit. Scalding the milk is a quick process that is so worth the effort! I highly recommend not skipping this step.
HOW DO YOU SCALD MILK?
Basically, scalding milk is heating milk to 180°F, near boiling. I recommend scalding the milk on the stovetop and using a thermometer to watch the temperature. Stir the milk constantly to prevent a film from forming on top of the milk and the milk from burning on the bottom of the pan. When the temperature reaches 180°F, remove the milk from the heat.
If you don’t have a thermometer to test the temperature, watch the milk closely and remove it from the heat when it is steaming and bubbles are forming around the edge, right before it comes to a boil.
How to Make Baked Custard
- Start by preheating the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly with a hand-held mixer. Then add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat just until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and heat on medium-high heat. Stir constantly to prevent the milk from burning. Bring the milk to a temperature of 180°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, remove the milk from the heat when it is steaming, and bubbles form around the edges. Be sure to remove the milk from the heat before it boils.
- Slowly drizzle 1 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture, whisking the eggs quickly the entire time. Then, slowly pour the remainder of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- Pour the custard into six 8-ounce Ramekin cups (or something similar in size).
- Place the custard cups in a 9×13-inch baking pan. Fill the pan halfway with room temperature water. (**The water evenly distributes heat around the custard, ensuring the eggs don’t curdle. It also prevents the tops from drying out and splitting before the inside is fully cooked. Without the water bath, you’ll have a rubbery, cracked dessert).
- Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife in the center; the custard is done if it comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly.
- The custard is delicious, served both warm or chilled. I highly recommend sprinkling the finished custard with nutmeg (freshly grated or ground). The dessert is not the same without it! You can also serve the custard with fresh berries.
Classic Baked Custard Cups
- 3 cups milk
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
- fresh berries
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs slightly with a hand-held mixer. Next, add the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat just until fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Add the cold milk to a medium saucepan. Heat the milk over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Do not boil the milk; you only want to scald it. The milk is scalded when small bubbles appear around the edge of the saucepan, or the temperature registers 180°F.
- Slowly drizzle 1 cup of the scalded milk into the eggs, whisking the eggs quickly the entire time. Then, slowly pour the remainder of the milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
- Pour the custard into six 8-ounce Ramekin cups (or something similar in size)
- Place the cups in a 9x13-inch baking pan, and fill the pan halfway with water.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a knife in the center; if it comes out clean, the custard is done.
- Allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle generously with nutmeg (strongly recommended).You can also serve with fresh berries.
- Eat the custard warm or chilled. Store custard in the refrigerator and eat within three days.