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Bird's Custard Powder - Help!

I am making a trifle and bought a can of Bird's Custard Powder (From the "English" section in a Shaw's Supermarket in Connecticut) thinking it would make a nice component in the trifle.

I've never used this product before, and I don't understand the tiny hard to read directions on the back. It tells how to make the custard "On the Hob" and it only requires two tablespoons of the custard powder, and the same amount of milk. This isn't nearly enough for the trifle...

Does anyone have a proper recipe for this??? Thanks in advance!

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  1. The proper recipe is on the back. the hob is the element on top of the English cookers most often found in english homes. Just do it in a pan on your stovetop.
    If the proportions are 2 T to 2T, than it will probably be a one to one ratio. To make more, just be sure you have an equal amount of powder and milk.
    Be careful to keep an eye on it, and not scald or burn it.

    If it is too hard, you can whip up nice custard from scratch following recipes online.

    Still, i find Bird's a doddle to make, and pretty tasty, too

    1 Reply
    1. re: Diana

      I agree about Bird's Dessert Powder. I bought it on a whim about 20 years ago and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. I actually have some in the cupboard right now and you've reminded me to use it.

    2. Use a non-stick saucepan and mix the powder, sugar and 2 Tbsp. milk taken from one pint of milk together until you have any lumps out. Heat the remaining milk ( I do this in a measuring cup in the microwave) until hot, then gradually add this milk into the pan, stirring continuously until it boils gently. Don't have the burner too high. Take off the heat, stir occasionally as it cools down some, then cover with cling wrap right on the custard so you don't get a skin and refrigerate until cold. If you are using skim milk, you may need another Tbsp of custard powder so it will set up more like a pudding for trifle and less like a sauce. (If it is too runny after it is refrigerated I have been able to reheat it with more powder mixed with a little milk, boiled again then strained, but this is a pain.)

      3 Replies
      1. re: malvern girl

        I've read Diana's post and she missed that you didn't pick up on the back of the can that you need 1 pint, ie. 2 cups of milk, from which you take the 2 Tbsp. to mix in with the powder and sugar originally. Unless you are making a huge trifle, 2 cups of milk will make enough custard.

        1. re: malvern girl

          I've had Bird's custard since I was a kid. I was thrilled to find it in Publix. Only trouble, it was as thin as water. Why? I measured the milk in mls., no problem. But 2 Tbsp of powder? I used my U.S measuring spoon. Back home, a tbsp. was a big dessert spoon loaded high. So, in the directions, should it be a U.S. Tbsp or my mother's old fashioned Tbsp??

          1. re: JuneG

            Does this help:

            Have you ever thickened gravy with cornstarch? Same idea.

        2. Is this just a corn starch based pudding, a non-instant version of the common American vanilla pudding?

          5 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            no, it's a custard, not a pudding at all. But Bird's does use corn starch in the mix, I think.

            1. re: Diana

              Well, I've made Bird's hundreds of time and I'll tell you it's NOT what we in the US call a "custard", i.e., it's not shivery like a custard. I don't know how to describe it but it's more like the texture of Jello Pudding. I'm also sure it contains corn starch. I'd go look but I'm too lazy.

              1. re: oakjoan

                Even this recipe for 'traditional English custard', using egg yolks sounds pourable.
                Joy of Cooking calls this a custard sauce or creme anglaise. It is cooked stove top and stirred, not baked in the oven.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  English Custard is never "shivery". It's always looser. Bird's is English Custard. My parents are English, and came over when they were adults, and raised me sort of with traditional English ways of thinking (heck, it took me years of bad spelling grades to adapt to America's wonky spelling).

                  To me, American so called custard is not custard. And frozen custard is just an odd thought! Custard should be smooth and good to pour over a golden syrup soaked sponge cake, or atop other fine desserts, or layered in a trifle with cake, berries and whipped cream (NOT cool whip, dammit!)

                  Sorry if my own personal custard ideals confused people!

                  Then again, once she came to America, my mother adapted a trifle recipe for Americans by using Bird's (done the traditional way),Frozen berries if they were out of season, Cool Whip, and Twinkies. She was embarrassed serving it, really, but all her new American friends and our playmates loved it. Think of it as a pre Rachel Ray quick recipe.

                  "Look! Corrinne's made us TRADITIONAL ENGLISH TRIFLE!" they would enthuse. Dad always snickered a little. But if people loved it, so she kept making it. It tasted pretty gooey and good, really.

                2. re: Diana

                  Do you mean it is thicker than the usual American style of pudding? That could be adjusted by how much milk you use, I think.

              2. Great posts everyone. Indeed I did miss about the 2 cups of milk, now things make more sense. Thank you for the cooking tips. I started googling Bird's and found a little bit more about the custard powder, but your tips are better.

                What I discovered on the 'net was this custard was invented by a man for his daughter who could not eat eggs. It is based on cornflour as a thickener.

                I think I am going to be good to go now! Thanks again!

                4 Replies
                1. re: TrishUntrapped

                  Adding some glugs of Sherry to Bird's custard, especially for a trifle, is not amiss.

                  1. re: Sherri

                    Sherri! That sounds great. Will have to try it.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      Thanks for the tip about the sherry, Sherri!!!

                    2. re: TrishUntrapped

                      Yup, the custard powder is simply a cornstarch mixture. It works like cooked pudding mix, except you add the sugar yourself and it creates a custard sauce rather than a thick pudding.

                    3. as kids we used to add chocolate nesquick to our custard after it was cooked but you can also add cocoa powder whilst cooking it for chocolate custard.

                      we also used to add some Ribena into the middle of our bowls of custard, it was delicious.

                      nothing like custard on a steamed pudding!!

                      1. I'll be making the custard tonight. Two batches. I would rather have some leftover (for the cook) than have too little.

                        I am making a variation of Death By Chocolate. My husband is bringing it to a special party at his office on Friday. Because of space limitations it can not be made in a large tall bowl, so it is going in a lovely 13 x 9 x 2 ceramic/enamel one...anyway here is what my plan is starting from the bottom:

                        A layer of homemade chocolate pudding
                        A layer of homemade brownies cut in small bites
                        A layer of sweet cherries which have been macerating in brandy (I must stop nibbling on these, good thing I bought an extra bag)
                        A very light layer of sliced fresh strawberries
                        A layer of the Bird's custard
                        A layer of whipped cream (fresh)
                        Sprinkled on top, Heath Bar toffee bits

                        My husband had requested something with no nuts mixed in...I am hoping the heath bar bits give a little crunch....

                        I will try to take pictures tonight as I get this all together.

                        I like to experiment with homemade desserts....We'll see how this one goes.

                        Thanks again for the tips.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: TrishUntrapped

                          TRISH, important note: check the label of the Heath bars for nuts. I'm pretty sure they do contain nuts (almonds???) and if someone has a nut allergy, this could be a problem.

                          1. re: Sherri

                            Concurr. At least some toffee does contain chopped nuts. Haven't had a heath bar in a realllllly long time so can't recall if they are the nutty one or if I am thinking of the ones in the pink foil wrapper. That said, if the reason for nuts is just people saying they don't like them, any nut quality to a Heath bar is de minimus, in my humble opinion. The bulk of the crunch is the hard sugar butter toffee.....

                            but still, sounds yummy...

                          2. re: TrishUntrapped

                            Wow! Can I come?

                            Your husband and his co-workers are lucky!

                            The toffee might be a bit stick to the teeth ish, although they sound delish. Not really crunchy as toffee, but have you thought about crystallized ginger chopped on top? Or maybe crunched up cookies.

                            Not crunchy at all, but English, would be to stick a bunch of Cadbury's flakes in there!


                          3. Thanks for the tips about the Heath Bars... The only reason is my husband doesn't like nuts, not an allergy issue.... I just want something with a little crunch or texture...I had been thinking about crushed shortbread/oreos too... not sure.... We'll see what happens...

                            My goal is to use restraint and a light touch so it all tastes good together and not overpoweringly sweet...

                            1. And here is the finished product! "Death By Brownie Trifle"

                              My husband said his office scarfed it down and loved it.
                              Like the hokey pokey... That's what it's all about!

                              Much thanks to you all. The Bird's Custard was a nice touch!


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                Are you aware that a British pint differs from a U.S. pint? The Brits use what's called an Imperial pint and the conversion to the U.S. Pint is 1 British pint to 1.2 U.S. pints. So, when making your Bird's custard you want to use 2 T powder to 1.666 cups of milk. I usually make the BIrd's custard for a trifle, so I round down using 1 1/2 cups of milk. This should make your custard set well enough for a trifle.

                              2. My Bird's can says to mix 3 T powder with 3 T sugar. Slowly add 2 1/2 c milk and stir to blend. Cook until it comes to a full boil. This makes a sauce. For a chilled dessert use 4 T powder with the recipe.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sarah galvin

                                  Thank you for the US directions I was stumped by directions on my can. Couldn't get it thick.

                                  1. re: Arnamorse

                                    Used 5 Tbsp. powder to 3 Tbsp sugar...whisked in 2.5 cups milk... was AMAZING in a graham cracker crust pie! My son LOVES Dr. Who and wanted this with "fish sticks" and it made his night!

                                2. If you found some Bird's Custard Powder be sure to make a pan of Nanaimo bars. I've never actually made custard with it. Only use it for Nanaimo bars

                                  Here's the link to a recipe. http://www.joyofbaking.com/NanaimoBar... They are -- let's face it -- a cardiac "event" in the form of a cookie being, basically, three different flavored layers of butter. But everybody's got to go sometime and that's one pretty damned good way to go! ;>

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rainey

                                    This. Absolutely. You do not want to miss the loveliness that is a Nanaimo Bar. Really.

                                  2. Rockbottom and Sarah, Thanks for the tip about the milk/powder ratios. Indeed the custard did come out a bit thin, not ultra thick, which worked fine for me, but now I understand why it did that!

                                    Also, those Nanaimo bars sound like a must try!

                                    1. I make my custard with evaporated milk. It takes less time, and gives it a little more flavor. Also try adding a tablespoon or so of nesquik to it for a chocolate custard.