A cooked mixture of eggs and milk with sugar and flavoring sometimes added. There are two basic kinds of custard – stirred and baked.
Stirred custard is also known as soft custard, custard sauce or erroneously, boiled custard. This custard is cooked on top of the range to a creamy, but pourable, consistency. You can cook the mixture in a double boiler over hot water or in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Serve stirred custard as a pudding or over cake or fruit.
Baked custard is cooked in a water bath in the oven and has a firm, but delicate, gel-like consistency. Serve a sweetened baked custard as a dessert in itself or as a base for toppings and sauces. A quiche or timbale is an unsweetened baked custard.
The usual proportions for a sweet custard are one egg and two tablespoons of sugar for each cup of milk. This is the minimum ratio of eggs to milk which will produce properly thickened custard. You may, though, use as many as four eggs and increase the sugar to four tablespoons. Increasing the sugar will make the custard less firm and lengthen the cooking time. Increasing the egg will make the custard firmer and shorten the cooking time.
You can also substitute two egg yolks for one whole egg. Two egg whites will also thicken the custard as much as one whole egg, but the characteristic custard color and flavor will be missing.
Click here for a baked custard recipe.