‘I don’t think of dessert as an occasional reward for good behaviour. To me, it is an integral part of the meal…’
Lois Daish, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p. 94
What a refreshing change it is to hear someone talking about dessert without any connotation of guilt or decadence. Obviously moderation is always key and Lois goes on to say that dessert at her house is often just seasonal fruit, but sometimes it’s what she describes as a ‘milk pudding’; delights such as rice pudding, lemon delicious, bread and butter pudding or baked caramel custard. Lois and I are on the same page here. Have some dessert and really enjoy it.
The instructions below might seem a bit long but this isn’t a difficult recipe. If you’ve melted sugar for Lois’ Dutch caramel cookies before then you’re all set to whip up a baked caramel custard for pudding tonight.
Baked caramel custard (Lois Daish, Cuisine 134, p. 94)
For the caramel:
1/2 cup caster sugar
Preheat oven to 150°C (don’t use fan bake). You’ll need a small, deep baking dish for the custard and another larger baking dish that is a suitable size to rest the custard dish inside in a pond of hot water while it bakes.
Put the caster sugar into a medium-sized heavy saucepan (large enough to warm the milk in later on) and place over a low-medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, tilt the pan around gently to swirl the sugar so that it melts evenly. Once all of the sugar has melted and deepened to a rich golden syrup pour it into the baking dish, tilting the dish so that is spreads over most of the bottom of the dish. The caramel will harden as it cools. You don’t need to scrape out every last bit of caramel from the pan as you’ll use this pan to warm the milk.
For the custard:
2 1/2 cups (625ml) standard milk
2 free-range eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla paste)
Place the milk in the caramel saucepan. Put the remaining ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together just enough to combine thoroughly. Heat the milk until very hot but not boiling; it’s at about the right temperature once steam is coming off the top and if you dunk your finger into the milk you don’t want to leave it in there!
Pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, whisking as you go. Pour this mixture through a sieve into the baking dish with the caramel in the bottom. Place in the larger baking dish and surround the dish of custard with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the caramel dish. I find the easiest way to do this is to put the custard dish inside the larger dish and put these in the oven. I pull out the oven rack slightly and then pour hot water from a recently boiled kettle into the larger baking dish.
Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until a sharp knife cut into the middle of the custard comes away clean, showing that the custard is set all the way through. Remove from the oven and cool until lukewarm before serving, or serve the custard cold and chilled; I like it best served cold.