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Sep 10, 2008 01:57 PM

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!!