Aah custard … Such a dear friend.
It’s got to be one of the most versatile of substances on earth.
Like Eliza Doolittle, it’s essential form is lovely and common but dress it up with bit of fanciness and it can turn into the fairest of ladies — Crème Patissière anyone?
Just think of all the ways we enjoy it: on its own, with apple crumble, in a vanilla slice, baked in the oven, doused in syrup a la crème caramel or dressed up with a brittle crust of burnt sugar for crème brulee.
Did you know the Spanish like to fry it into a delicious golden ball of gooey goodness?
Being of the generation used entirely to convenience and supermarket choice, it took a long time for me to actually make a custard of my own.
I know what you’re thinking: the shock, the horror, the lazy!
Don’t get me wrong, as a child I many a time sampled by Grandmother’s homemade custard. Particularly when it came surrounded by puff of pastry. (She never called them profiteroles mind you, they were just ‘cream puffs’).
Nan’s custard was how I learned that custard was in fact closer to white in colour than yellow — and that milk was more than just a great accompaniment to cookies.
These days, even my mother-in-law, a CWA stalwart, buys her custard.
Every Christmas, and most weeknights, she brings out the Brooklea UHT 1 kg carton from the pensioner shopping haven (also known as Aldi) and she finds it does perfectly well as an after dinner treat with some tinned peaches.
My own — and still first and only — attempt to make custard was doomed to failure as I realised half way through heating the milk that I didn’t have any cornflour.
Like a panicked yet slightly cocky Master Chef contestant I decided I would try gluten free plain flour instead.
I stirred and stirred, I may have even tried a spell at one point, but the milk failed to thicken and I was left wishing I had made an omelette instead.
Like most dairy products these days, custard is going through a bit of a makeover.
There’s custard to pour, custard to dollop, there’s even double thick varieties, which means double the decadence.
Snack packs and pouches, cups and cartons — there’s convenient packaging for whenever the custard urge strikes.
Many tricks are tried to lure the likely custard lover, such as the bespoke-sounding Madagascan Vanilla Bean Custard from Wicked Sister which has flecks of the vanilla pod throughout.
Lovers of the Paul’s Farmhouse Gold Milk may have already tried the Paul’s Farmhouse Gold Custard, which has less fat and sugar than the Double Thick variety and as a result has a more wholesome taste and lends itself to larger serves.
Speaking of wholesome, what do you make of chocolate custard? Too devilish?
For me it brings back many childhood memories of Yogo, and I’m a bit of a stickler for keeping it simple when it comes to flavours.
I like to eat chocolate. And custard. But do we need to combine them?
It’s the same reason it nearly blew my tiny mind to see that Sara Lee has a Rhubarb and Custard Flavoured Ice Cream. Wowsers!
I hope I’m not alone when I say my favourite way to eat custard is straight from the regular vanilla 1 litre carton, when no-one is looking, and drink it like milk.
The carton says there is 10 servings per pack but I beg to differ.
Want to make fried custard? Visit www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/fried-custard-leche-frita