Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 8, 2010 01:48 PM

ADVICE: Getting Custard to Set Properly?

I recently got Alice Waters' Art of Simple Food and have been sampling my way through it. I was so excited when I found the recipe for her Vanilla Custard, as my grandmother used to make me a heavenly homemade custard as a kid, and I had honestly kind of forgotten about it.

I made it, and the taste was right on, but the consistency was way too thin (ala thin yogurt). Granted, technically she calls it "Pouring Custard" so this could just be me being in denial, but I was hoping it would set up to a proper custard consistency after hanging out overnight in the fridge.

The ratio was 1 cup milk to 2 egg yolks. In the notes she says you may use and extra egg yolk or extra cream/half half? to thicken it--is that all it needs or did I do something else wrong?

I have an ancient electric stove with which the heat regulation is shoddy at best, so wondering if out of fear of burning I pulled it too early...

Any thoughts welcome. My grandmother very recently passed and I would love to be able to contribute a custard recipe that stands up to hers for our keepsake book we are working on.

Here is a link to the recipe for reference:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If your oven is inaccurate you are starting off with a handicap and, everything else being equal, It doesn't make sense to adjust a recipe in an effort to correct the fact that the oven is bad. Get a good oven thermometer and determine where you oven's thermostatic adjustment needs to be to obtain the correct cooking temperature. Pre-heat the oven and allow it to stand, pre-heated, 30 minutes before loading it. You might also want to try using a baking stone on one oven shelf to help maintain a more even temperature throughout the oven while baking.
    Some custards use whole eggs, others only egg yolks. Your ratio of 2 eggs yolks per cup of milk/cream should be fine for the custard you're making. You might try using 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 cup cream (or 1 cup half and half) to 2 egg yolks but I doubt that will help achieve a thicker consistency, just a smoother one.
    Your link doesn't work. Here's a correction version:
    Your custard is done when it is set around the edges but till slightly loose in the middle (it will wiggle slightly when you jiggle the custard cup). That should take 25 to 35 minutes, depending on how large your custard cups/ramekins are. Also, preheat the water for your water bath and use at least enough water to come a minimum of half way up the outside of the cups (ramekins). Get them out of the water bath as soon as they come out of the oven, rest them on a cooling rack until completely cooled before refrigerating; covered.