Custard
Overview
 
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 or cream
Cream
Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called "separators"...

 and egg yolk
Egg yolk
An egg yolk is a part of an egg which feeds the developing embryo. The egg yolk is suspended in the egg white by one or two spiral bands of tissue called the chalazae...

. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

 (crème anglaise
Crème anglaise
Crème anglaise is a light pouring custard used as a dessert cream or sauce. It is a mix of sugar, egg yolks and hot milk, often flavoured with vanilla....

), to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. The most common custards are used as dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

s or dessert sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

s and typically include sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 and vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

. Custard bases may also be used for quiche
Quiche
Quiche is a savory, open-faced pie of vegetables, cheese, or meat in custard, baked in a pastry crust.The quiche is sometimes regarded as the savoury equivalent ofegg custard tart.- Etymology:...

s and other savory foods.
Encyclopedia
Custard is a variety of culinary preparations based on a cooked mixture of milk
Milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

 or cream
Cream
Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called "separators"...

 and egg yolk
Egg yolk
An egg yolk is a part of an egg which feeds the developing embryo. The egg yolk is suspended in the egg white by one or two spiral bands of tissue called the chalazae...

. Depending on how much egg or thickener is used, custard may vary in consistency from a thin pouring sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

 (crème anglaise
Crème anglaise
Crème anglaise is a light pouring custard used as a dessert cream or sauce. It is a mix of sugar, egg yolks and hot milk, often flavoured with vanilla....

), to a thick pastry cream used to fill éclairs. The most common custards are used as dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

s or dessert sauce
Sauce
In cooking, a sauce is liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsus, meaning salted...

s and typically include sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 and vanilla
Vanilla
Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla . The word vanilla derives from the Spanish word "", little pod...

. Custard bases may also be used for quiche
Quiche
Quiche is a savory, open-faced pie of vegetables, cheese, or meat in custard, baked in a pastry crust.The quiche is sometimes regarded as the savoury equivalent ofegg custard tart.- Etymology:...

s and other savory foods. Sometimes flour
Flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

, corn starch, or gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

 is added as in pastry cream or creme patissiere.
Custard is usually cooked in a double boiler (bain-marie
Bain-marie
A bain-marie is a French term for a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time.- Description :...

), or heated very gently in a saucepan on a stove, though custard can also be steamed, baked in the oven with or without a water bath
Water bath
A water bath can refer to:* A Bain-marie* A heated bath* A Laboratory water bath...

, or even cooked in a pressure cooker. Custard preparation is a delicate operation, because a temperature increase of 5–10 °F (3-6 °C) leads to overcooking and curdling. Generally, a fully cooked custard should not exceed 80 °C; it begins setting at 70 °C. A water bath slows heat transfer and makes it easier to remove the custard from the oven before it curdles.

History

Mixtures of milk and eggs thickened by heat have long been part of European cuisine. Custards baked in pastry (custard tart
Custard tart
Custard tarts or flans pâtissier are a pastry consisting of an outer pastry crust filled with egg custard and baked.-History:The development of custard is so intimately connected with the custard tart or pie that the word itself comes from the old French croustade, meaning a kind of pie...

s) were very popular in the Middle Ages, and are the origin of the English word 'custard': 'croustade' originally referred to the crust of a tart. Examples include Crustardes of flessh and Crustade, in The Forme of Cury
Forme of Cury
The Forme of Cury is an extensive recipe collection of the 14th century whose author is given as "the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II". The modern name was given to it by Samuel Pegge, who published an edition of it in 1791. This name has since come into usage for almost all versions of the...

. These recipes include solid ingredients such as meat, fish, and fruit bound by the custard. Stirred custards cooked in pots are also found under the names Creme Boylede and Creme boiled.

In modern times, the name 'custard' is sometimes applied to starch-thickened preparations like blancmange
Blancmange
Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given a pink color as well...

 and Bird's Custard
Bird's Custard
Bird's Custard is the original version of what is known generically as custard powder. It is a cornflour -based powder which thickens to form a custard-like sauce when mixed with milk and heated to a sufficient temperature...

.

Custard variations

While custard may refer to a wide variety of thickened dishes, technically (and in French cookery) the word custard (crème or more precisely crème moulée, kʁɛm mule) refers only to an egg-thickened custard.

When starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 is added, the result is called pastry cream or confectioners' custard, made with a combination of milk or cream, egg yolk
Egg yolk
An egg yolk is a part of an egg which feeds the developing embryo. The egg yolk is suspended in the egg white by one or two spiral bands of tissue called the chalazae...

s, fine sugar, flour or some other starch, and usually a flavoring such as vanilla, chocolate, or lemon. Crème pâtissière is a key ingredient in many French desserts including mille-feuille
Mille-feuille
The mille-feuille , vanilla slice, cream slice, custard slice, also known as the Napoleon, is a pastry originating in France.Traditionally, a mille-feuille is made up of three layers of puff pastry , alternating with two layers of pastry cream , but sometimes whipped cream, or jam are substituted...

 (or Napoleons) and filled tarts. It also used in Italian pastry and sometimes in Boston cream pie
Boston cream pie
A Boston cream pie is a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake, and not a pie....

.

When gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

 is added, it is known as crème anglaise collée (kʁɛm ɑ̃ɡlɛz kole)

When starch is used alone as a thickener (without eggs), the result is a blancmange
Blancmange
Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mould and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given a pink color as well...

. In the United Kingdom, custard often refers to a dessert thickened from cornflour (cornstarch) rather than eggs; see custard powder.

After the custard has thickened, it may be mixed with other ingredients: mixed with stiffly beaten egg whites and gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

, it is chiboust cream
Chiboust cream
Crème Chiboust is a crème pâtissière lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites.Crème Chiboust can be flavoured with vanilla, orange zest, or liqueurs. Mixed with fruit, it becomes crème plombières....

; mixed with whipped cream
Whipped cream
Whipped cream is cream that has been beaten by a mixer, whisk, or fork until it is light and fluffy. Whipped cream is often sweetened and sometimes flavored with vanilla, in which case it may be called Chantilly cream or crème Chantilly ....

, it is crême légère, kʁɛm leʒɛːʁ.

Savoury custards

Not all custards are sweet. A quiche
Quiche
Quiche is a savory, open-faced pie of vegetables, cheese, or meat in custard, baked in a pastry crust.The quiche is sometimes regarded as the savoury equivalent ofegg custard tart.- Etymology:...

 is a savoury custard tart. Some kinds of timbale
Timbale (food)
In cooking, timbale can refer to either a kind of pan used for baking, or the food that is cooked inside such a pan.Timbale pans can be large , or they can be small enough to be single-portion . Timbales typically narrow toward the bottom....

 or vegetable loaf are made of a custard base mixed with chopped savoury ingredients. Custard royale is a thick custard cut into decorative shapes and used to garnish soup
Soup
Soup is a generally warm food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.Traditionally,...

, stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 or broth
Broth
Broth is a liquid food preparation, typically consisting of either water or an already flavored stock, in which bones, meat, fish, cereal grains, or vegetables have been simmered. Broth is used as a basis for other edible liquids such as soup, gravy, or sauce. It can be eaten alone or with garnish...

. Chawanmushi
Chawanmushi
Chawanmushi is an egg custard dish found in Japan that uses the seeds of ginkgo. Unlike many other custards, it is usually eaten as an appetizer...

 is a Japanese
Japanese cuisine
Japanese cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of many political and social changes throughout Japan. The cuisine eventually changed with the advent of the Medieval age which ushered in a shedding of elitism with the age of shogun rule...

 savoury custard, cooked and served in a small bowl or on a saucer.

Custard may also be used as a top layer in gratin
Gratin
Gratin is a widespread culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind...

s, such as the South African bobotie
Bobotie
Bobotie is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe is likely to have originated from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. Afterwards, it was taken to South Africa and adopted...

 and many Balkan
Balkan cuisine
The Balkan cuisine is heterogeneous and is therefore known as the cuisine of states and regions, since every region has its own distinct culinary traditions...

 versions of moussaka
Moussaka
Moussaka is an eggplant based dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The best known variation outside the region is the Greek one.-Names and etymology:...

.

Uses

Recipes involving sweet custard are listed in the custard dessert category, and include:

  • Bavarian cream
    Bavarian cream
    Bavarian cream or Crème bavaroise or simply Bavarois is a classic dessert that was included in the repertoire of Marie-Antoine Carême, who is sometimes credited with it. It was named in the early 19th century for Bavaria or, perhaps more likely in the history of haute cuisine, for a particularly...

  • Boston cream pie
    Boston cream pie
    A Boston cream pie is a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate. Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake, and not a pie....

  • Bougatsa
    Bougatsa
    Bougatsa, , is a Greek breakfast pastry consisting of custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo.- Origin :...

  • Clafoutis
  • Cream pie
    Cream pie
    A cream pie is a type of pie filled with a rich custard or pudding that is made from milk, cream, flour, and eggs. It can come in many forms, including vanilla, lemon, lime, peanut butter, banana, coconut, and chocolate. A constant feature of all cream pies is the whipped cream topping...

  • Crème brûlée
    Crème brûlée
    Crème brûlée , also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel...

  • Crème caramel

  • Crema Catalana
  • (Egg) Custard tart
    Custard tart
    Custard tarts or flans pâtissier are a pastry consisting of an outer pastry crust filled with egg custard and baked.-History:The development of custard is so intimately connected with the custard tart or pie that the word itself comes from the old French croustade, meaning a kind of pie...

    , also called egg custard.
  • Egg tart
    Egg tart
    The egg tart or egg custard tart is a kind of custard tart pastry commonly found in Hong Kong and other Asian countries, which consists of an outer pastry crust that is filled with egg custard and baked...

  • English trifle
  • Flan

  • Floating island
    Floating island (dessert)
    A floating island is a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise . The meringues are prepared from whipped egg whites, sugar and vanilla extract then quickly poached. The crème anglaise is prepared with the egg yolks, vanilla, and hot milk, briefly cooked.There is some...

  • Frozen custard
    Frozen custard
    Frozen custard is a cold dessert similar to ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration requires products marketed as frozen custard to contain at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. If it has fewer egg yolk...

  • Galaktoboureko
    Galaktoboureko
    Galaktoboureko is a Greek dessert of semolina-based custard in phyllo. It may be made in a pan, with phyllo layered on top and underneath, or rolled into individual servings...

  • Kremna rezina
    Kremna rezina
    Kremna rezina is a vanilla and custard cream cake dessert commonly associated with the town of Bled, a popular Alpine tourist destination in northwestern Slovenia. The recipe cake was brought to the local Hotel Park in 1953 by Ištvan Kovačevič, chef of the hotel's confectionery store. He came to...

  • Pastel de nata
    Pastel de nata
    A pastel de nata , or pastel de Belém is a Portuguese egg tart pastry. They are common in Portugal, the Lusosphere — Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste, Goa, and Macau — and countries with significant Portuguese populations, such as Canada,...

  • Pumpkin pie
    Pumpkin pie
    Pumpkin pie is a traditional sweet dessert, often eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada. The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time and featured also at Halloween....


  • Taiyaki
    Taiyaki
    is a Japanese fish-shaped cake. The most common filling is red bean paste that is made from sweetened azuki beans. Other common fillings may be custard, chocolate, or cheese. Some shops even sell taiyaki with okonomiyaki, gyoza filling, or a sausage inside....

  • Vanilla slice
  • Vla
    Vla
    Vla is a Dutch food product. It is a type of custard .-Vla custard:This dairy product made from fresh milk first appeared in the 1950s. Traditional vla is made of cooked milk with custard, or with a combination of eggs, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar...

  • Zabaglione
    Zabaglione
    Zabaione , is an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, a sweet wine , and sometimes whole eggs. It is a very light custard, which has been whipped to incorporate a large amount of air. Zabaglione is traditionally served with fresh figs...


Physical properties

Cooked (set) custard is a weak gel
Gel
A gel is a solid, jelly-like material that can have properties ranging from soft and weak to hard and tough. Gels are defined as a substantially dilute cross-linked system, which exhibits no flow when in the steady-state...

, viscous and thixotropic; while it does become easier to stir the more it is manipulated, it does not, unlike many other thixotropic liquids, recover its lost viscosity over time.

A suspension
Suspension (chemistry)
In chemistry, a suspension is a heterogeneous fluid containing solid particles that are sufficiently large for sedimentation. Usually they must be larger than 1 micrometer. The internal phase is dispersed throughout the external phase through mechanical agitation, with the use of certain...

 of uncooked custard powder (starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

) in water, with the proper proportions, has the opposite rheological
Rheology
Rheology is the study of the flow of matter, primarily in the liquid state, but also as 'soft solids' or solids under conditions in which they respond with plastic flow rather than deforming elastically in response to an applied force....

 property: it is negative thixotropic, or dilatant
Dilatant
A dilatant material is one in which viscosity increases with the rate of shear strain. Such a shear thickening fluid, also known by the acronym STF, is an example of a non-Newtonian fluid....

, which is to say that it becomes more viscous
Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid which is being deformed by either shear or tensile stress. In everyday terms , viscosity is "thickness" or "internal friction". Thus, water is "thin", having a lower viscosity, while honey is "thick", having a higher viscosity...

 when under pressure. This suspension is termed oobleck and often used in science demonstrations of non-Newtonian fluids
Non-Newtonian fluid
A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose flow properties differ in any way from those of Newtonian fluids. Most commonly the viscosity of non-Newtonian fluids is not independent of shear rate or shear rate history...

. The British popular-science programme Brainiac: Science Abuse
Brainiac: Science Abuse
Brainiac: Science Abuse is a British entertainment TV show with a science motif. Numerous experiments are carried out in each show, often to verify whether common conceptions are true or simply to create impressive explosions...

demonstrated dilatancy dramatically by filling a swimming pool with this mixture and having presenter Jon Tickle
Jon Tickle
Jonathan "Jon" Tickle is a television presenter in the UK, who initially rose to fame as a contestant on the fourth series of the British Big Brother. He appeared before this, however, as a contestant on the gameshow Blockbusters in 1991. He is also a co-presenter on the Sky Digital television...

walk across it; this was called "walking on custard."
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