Custard Recipe – Custard DIY or buy?

Roxanne Fisher Editor of bbcgoodfood.com asks is it always worth making your favourites from scratch and puts shop-bought and homemade custard to the test.

 

Also the team at Good Housekeeping Institute tried and tested nine shop-bought fresh custards to find one rich and creamy enough to impress.

Pan of custard

Why do so few of us make custard from scratch at home? Convenience, cost, taste?

Once you’ve cracked your own technique for silky smooth vanilla custard, you’ll never go back to shop bought especially for that special occasion.

Custard DIY Costs

Buying all the ingredients for the homemade custard was considerably more expensive than the cost of the supermarket own brand. However, it made double the quantity and there were plenty of leftover ingredients.

Shop Bought Custard

Cost of shop-bought custard:
Supermarket own brand – £2 (serves 4)

Homemade Custard

Cost of ingredients for homemade custard:
Ingredients for the homemade – £5 (serves 8)

BBC Good Food Custard Recipe

The custard recipe Roxanne used was Homemade custard from BBCgoodfood. For convenience I’ve listed it underneath the video which shows you how easy making custard is.

If you need it here’s a video of four simple and cool ways to separate eggs.

The steps on this recipe are great as it tells you exactly when your custard is at pouring point. The whole process was so simple, and it seemed to be ready much sooner than the suggested 25 minutes. There were loads left over so we popped it in the freezer for another time.

Method

  1. Put the cream and milk into a large pan and gently bring to just below boiling point. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture onto the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
  2. Wipe out the saucepan and pour the mixture back into it. Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard is thickened, but before any lumps form. Eat hot or cold.

The custard taste test

The vanilla flavour in the homemade custard really came to the fore, and when tasted alongside the shop bought the difference in flavour and depth was really noticeable. The texture of the homemade was also superior, thick and silky smooth opposed to the shop-bought’s slightly artificial quality.

The only complaint about the homemade was that it was possibly a little sweet. Not a problem if you have an insatiable sweet tooth, but I would consider experimenting with less caster sugar next time to get a balance to appeal to everyone.

The verdict

While making your own might not save you money, shop-bought is no match for the indulgent taste and full flavour of the recipe we used. It also made twice as much as the shop-bought provided, meaning we have some in the freezer for the next pudding.

Before I wouldn’t have thought twice about buying ready-made custard but the stark difference in taste (and examination of the added colours and flavourings in the shop-bought) has converted our household. My only hesitation is the high calorie and fat content in this recipe. Fine as a treat, but I’ll be exploring lower-fat options so we can enjoy this more often.

 

Which Shop-bought Custard

Which store-bought custard is worth drizzling on your pud?

The team at the Good Housekeeping Institute tried and tested nine fresh custards to find one rich and creamy enough to impress. Here’s a summary of their findings. (26/09/2018)

The Lidl Deluxe Madagascan Vanilla custard came second in the test but was practically half the price of the others in the top three.

The Tesco product came mid-table – creaminess was good but it lacked any vanilla taste.

Bottom of the pile and the cheapest product of them all was the Ambrosia Deluxe Custard – more like white chocolate than custard and lacked a fresh flavour.

1. Asda Extra Special Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 81/100

A creamy-yellow custard with decadent flecks of vanilla beans. Rich smelling with a slight creaminess and a deep vanilla-paste like aroma. Testers loved the fresh taste and deep creaminess from the double cream. The vanilla flavour is wonderfully balanced and the sweetness isn’t overpowering. Smooth with a light thickness for the perfect pouring consistency.

Price: £1.85

2. Lidl Deluxe Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 78/100

Flecks of vanilla seeds add richness to this pastel yellow custard. We loved its condensed milk like aroma with sweet milky notes and a strong hit of vanilla. Gorgeously creamy, the custard has a deep vanilla taste and a heavy sweetness which some found slightly overpowering. Testers also picked up on a slight synthetic note. Medium-thick, it is ideal for drizzling over a hot pud.

Price: £0.99

3. M&S Dessert Menu The Collection Thick & Creamy Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 78/100

Lusciously thick for the perfect dollop over pudding, this custard impressed testers with its indulgence. Tremendously creamy in taste with a rich yolky scent for a fresh, old-fashioned appeal. It had a measured sweetness but was a little too gentle in vanilla taste for our panel.

Price: £2.40

4. Sainsburys Taste The Difference Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 73/100

Pleasantly creamy with a subtle smell of vanilla and milk. Sweet to taste with a lovely lactic creaminess, we enjoyed the natural vanilla flavour from the pods but also picked up on a slight synthetic taste. Though smooth, the custard is too thin for our liking.

Price: £2.00

5. Tesco Finest Cornish Custard

Score: 68/100

So decadently thick, this custard was likened to crème pat. This Cornish custard has a candied-caramelised sweet taste much like crème brûlée which gave it an enticing biscuitty, burnt-caramel aroma. We loved its creaminess but found it lacked any vanilla taste.

Price: £2.00

6. Waitrose Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 67/100

Testers were able to pick out a very gentle yet rich eggy scent with a touch of vanilla. That said, it is beautifully creamy on the palate with a fresh egg flavour and a natural vanilla taste. The custard has a velvety smooth texture but was a little too thick for some.

Price: £2.15

7. Country Puddings Creamy Vanilla Custard

Score: 67/100

This bright yolky-yellow custard has a subtly sweet milky aroma with delicate vanilla notes. Although a little bland, testers enjoyed the slight sweetness and hints of vanilla but wanted a stronger flavour and felt the custard had artificial undertones. A fairly nice, medium consistency but with a slightly powdery quality to the texture.

Price: £1.80

8. Morrisons The Best Madagascan Vanilla Custard

Score: 62/100

A rich creamy-white custard with a gently sweet milky aroma and a lovely hit of vanilla. Unfortunately the custard wasn’t as flavoursome, lacking an obvious vanilla taste and with misplaced savoury notes. It was, however, deliciously creamy, but our panel felt the custard should have been richer and thicker in texture.

Price: £1.90

9. Ambrosia Deluxe Custard Vanilla with West Country Cream

Score: 57/100

A vibrant lemon yellow, this custard wasn’t as natural looking as the vanilla-bean-flecked others. Overpoweringly sweet, our panel felt it was more like white chocolate than custard. It lacked a fresh flavour and eggy taste and we wanted more of a natural vanilla flavour. Most, however, loved the thickness.

Price: £0.65

Best kitchen knives

Wusthof Knives ♦ Global Knives ♦ Henckels Knives ♦ Victorinox Knives

THE HEAD-TO-HEAD SHOWDOWN

Australia’s equivalent of  Which? put these knives through their paces, testing handling and checking cutting performance while a specialist laboratory assessed how sharp they were.   Who came out top?

The Contenders

The workhorse knife of any kitchen knives range is the cooks knife or chefs knife as it is sometimes called. The chefs knife of each of these ranges was chosen so that the comparison was as accurate as it could be.

The actual knives tested were:

Henckels Knives (Zwilling J.A. Henckels) Review
For the most part these are excellent German-made knives.  The most popular and best of the Henckels ranges are Professional S and Four Star.  You’ll see Jamie Oliver using Henckels knives in particular the Professional-S line. Read the full review…

 

 

Wusthof Knives Review
Like Henckels Wusthof are another top-quality German knife company. If you buy any Wusthof knife, you are sure to have bought a great knife. There are no “cheap” Wusthof knives. Read the full review…

 

 

Global Knives Review
All stainless Japanese kitchen knives with hollow handles which makes them comparatively light.  Global makes great knives which are, mostly, not forged but are laser cut and then welded to a handle. They are relatively easy to sharpen and very durable. Read the full review…

 

Victorinox Knives Review
Victorinox are made in Swtizerland and are typically not forged – they are stamped out of stainless steel and then fixed to a variety of handle styles.  Because they are not a forged knife, the steel is relatively soft which means they do not hold an edge for as long. On the positive side though they are very easy to sharpen and are very durable and very inexpensive.  Read the full review…

The Head-to-Head Test

PERFORMANCE: The home economist put one set of the cooks knives through their paces, slicing and dicing various foods:

  • sliced carrots to assess the knives’ ability to slice hard food evenly without slipping and without resistance
  • sliced cucumber to check how each knife could perform delicate work: slicing as thinly as possible without slipping or resistance that would result in uneven slices
  • used the knives to chop parsley rapidly, to see if they could chop finely without bruising, crushing or mashing
  • cut and cubed steak to see how well the knives cut through fat and sinew without much effort and without slipping
  • a male assessor and a left hander also checked each model for comfort

SHARPNESS: A second set of knives was sent to a specialist laboratory to assess how sharp they were:

  • immediately after purchase
  • after 50 slicing strokes into a specially calibrated aluminium rod, which is known to blunt the cutting edge
  • after a further 50 blunting strokes

 The Results

Performance Scores
Features
Specifications
Brand / model (in rank order)

Price

Overall (%)

Cutting (%)

Sharpness (%)

Dishwasher-safe

Forged/ Stamped

Weight (g)

Global Cook’s Knife 20cm G-2

£78

84

90

69

Stamped

174

Victorinox Cook’s Wide Blade Fibrox

£20

81

85

72

Y

Stamped

190

Wüsthof Classic 4582/20cm

£80

79

85

64

Forged

251

Zwilling JA Henckels Four Star 20cm Cook’s Knife

£85

75

80

63

Forged

219

Notes: The overall score is made up of 70% for cutting performance and 30% for sharpness.

best restaurant in the world award The Winner:  Global Cook’s Knife 20cm G-2 £78

Comments: A stamped knife, very lightweight and one-piece seamless metal knife.

GOOD POINTS

  • High initial sharpness: sharp enough for immediate use by a chef.
  • Cutting performance is excellent.
  • Well balanced.

BAD POINTS

  • Male assessor found the handle a little small.
  • The handle isn’t smooth and some people could find it uncomfortable to use.

 

second best restaurant in the world award Runner Up: Victorinox Cook’s Wide Blade Fibrox £20

Comments: A stamped knife, fairly lightweight and reasonably priced.

GOOD POINTS

  • Very good cutting performance.
  • A fairly comfortable knife, with a good-sized handle and non-slip grip.
  • Fairly well balanced.
  • Very high initial sharpness: sharp enough for immediate use by a chef.

BAD POINTS

  •  None.

 

 third best restaurant in the world awardThird Place: Wüsthof Classic 4582/20cm £80

Comments: A forged knife, heavy and expensive.

GOOD POINTS

  • Very good cutting performance.
  • Well balanced.

BAD POINTS

  • Handle curve can feel uncomfortable for a larger hand.
  • Not quite sharp enough after purchase for immediate use by a chef.

 

 Commended: Zwilling JA Henckels Four Star 20cm Cook’s Knife £85

Comments: A slightly heavy knife.

GOOD POINTS

  • Cutting performance is ‘very good’.
  • Fairly comfortable handle.
  • High initial sharpness.

BAD POINTS

  • Can sit on its back with the blade facing upward, which is a cutting hazard.
  • Slightly flat curve on blade.
  • Blade slightly heavy.

 

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