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Feb 14, 2009 08:44 PM

Custard Help Please

Why does my baked custard develop a lot of water after it cools (so that when you scoop some out of the baking dish, a couple of inches of water are sitting there). Is there a trick to avoid this?

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  1. Are you baking it in a water bath? Adam

    1. Do you cool it in an ice-bath? Could be condensation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hankstramm

        I bake it in a water bath and do not cool it in an ice bath---I just take it out of the oven when an inserted silver knife comes out clean, and set it on a counter until it cools. And by the time we eat it, the dish is half-full of water as you scoop out the custard.

      2. You may be baking it too long and/or at too high a temperature. Try baking it only long enough to set the perimeter so that, when you shake it a bit in the oven, you see a slight jiggle movement just in the center. Take it out and let it finish setting as it cools. The residual heat in the custard will do the final job of setting the custard while it rests on the counter.

        1. It sounds like you over-baked the custard resulting in the proteins squeezing the water out of the eggs.

          Did you bake them in a water bath? How long and at what temperature did you bake them? Custards should come out of the oven still slightly giggly, so they set up as they cool.

          1. What is your recipe? Is there a starch/chocolate to help hold it together? At what temperature is it being cooked (the lower the better)? Is it in a water bath on a rack? Typically, watery custards occur when the proteins bond together before they are fully cooked - the liquid is forced from the spaces in between them. You made need to cook in a slower oven.

            3 Replies
            1. re: alwayscooking

              Thanks for all replies. I have been baking custard at 350*, in a water bath, not on a rack in the pan of water, just sitting in it. After reading these responses I checked Joy of Cooking (325*), Good Housekeeping (325*), Settlement (350*), New Basics (350*), and a Puerto Rican cookbook that has flan baking at 350*---that got me wondering if the ratio of egg to milk might influence the wateriness---flan has more egg. And here's another thought---custard doesn't water when it's quiche---I wonder why. Also, Good Housekeeping bakes a custard pie at 425*! I will change my custard temperature to 325*. And, to alwayscooking, I have never heard of adding a starch to baked custard---it's always egg, milk, sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla. What starch are you thinking of? Baking professionals: what can I read that would discuss the relationship of milk, egg, and sugar in such products as custard, flan, quiche filling? I can see there is a theoretical background here to master, and it's interesting to know how things actually work. Thanks again to all.

              1. re: Querencia

                On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee is the go to book for me.

                I mentioned starch since it would absorb some of the liquid that is leaking from your eggs (although technically it would be a pudding). You might also want to reduce slightly the amount of milk you are using in the recipe or adding another yolk. The difference between a custard and a quiche is the use of whole eggs - the whites add more protein and so more structure creating firmness.

                CHs - please correct me if I'm wrong (as if I have to ask!)

                1. re: Querencia

                  I'm not sure if custard is discussed in either tome, but the standard food science books are Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise" and "Bakwise," and Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking". I have the CIA baking texts by Gisslen and Frieberg, but those are fairly expensive, unless you can find them at the library. You might want to investigate "How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science" by Paul Gigoni.

                  I like Alton Brown's custard video's on Youtube,