Today’s recipe: Instant custard creme brulee
This storecupboard essential forms the base for a no-fuss – and nearly instant – version of this classic pudding.
It’s not uncommon for me to step out into the world dressed up like a tin of Bird’s custard powder, decked out in primary red, yellow and blue. Of all the icons I could copy, of all the causes I could espouse, I’ve forged myself in the image of Britain’s most beloved eggless cornflour custard mix. I love this stuff: I love that if you have a tub of it in the cupboard, you have the makings of a midweek pudding – bananas and custard, a makeshift apple crumble or this back-to-basics creme brulee – no baking, no split custard, no water bath.
Bird’s custard creme brulee
If you don’t have a blowtorch for the crust, you can get quite similar results under a grill. You won’t get quite the same deep, mottled brown as you would with a blowtorch, but you’ll still get a pleasing, brittle crust.
Prep 10 min
Set 2 hr 30 min
1 tbsp custard powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml whole milk
200ml double cream
2-3 tbsp caster sugar, to top
Stir together the custard powder, caster sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract, then briskly whisk in two tablespoons of the milk to make a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining milk and the cream in a small pan until they are just starting to simmer, then pour the hot mixture slowly into the golden custard base, whisking as you go. Decant the custard back into the pan and stir constantly as you bring it to a simmer. Once it is bubbling and thickened, divide between four ceramic ramekins. Refrigerate for at least two hours to cool and set.
Heat the grill as hot as it will go. Sprinkle the caster sugar in a smooth, even layer over each custard. Place carefully under the grill, as close to the heat source as you can, and keep a close eye on them as the sugar begins to liquefy, bubble and brown. (If you do have a blowtorch, just sweep it over the sugared surface until it begins to caramelise, taking care not to let it blacken and burn.)
Leave the custards to cool for a while before putting back in the fridge for half an hour. Serve with a little fruit – the tartness of raspberries is a perfect foil to the sweet, velvet custard.
- Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
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