Custard – a tale of unrequited love.
I’ve got to get this out in the open, you may have suspected this but I cannot hide my feelings any longer. I am hopelessly in love with custard. It started as a childish crush, innocently measuring the powder out from a Bird’s sachet, combining it with sugar and a little milk until it turned into a bright orange paste to mix with hot milk. Its yellow skin caught my eye, but also my sister’s and we battled over its affections until my Mother drew a rota on the dining-room wall (yes, actually on the wallpaper). I realise that ‘custard-skin-haters’ might stop reading at this point.
My tastes matured but it was love at first bite in all its guises, from a nutmeg sprinkled custard tart glimpsed in the baker’s window to a light, primrose cream hiding under a caramel shell of a crème brûlée.
But how to make this relationship last? How to capture it and make it my own happy ever after fairy tale? Custard is so tricky, gets bored and is thin company, take your eye off it and it splits, gets the hump and goes lumpy. I’ve watched with envy with other people – take my Mother-in-Law for instance, six free-range local egg yolks and farmhouse cream transformed to divine perfection in the microwave, no less. Perhaps my love-struck nerves get the better of me – tragically, custard eludes me in my own kitchen.
perseverance has been my middle name – in the wake of many heart-rending break-ups. This time I turned to a cheeky mockney for advice (shielding my eyes from the dubious ‘Naked’ undertones) and he introduced me to Portuguese custard tarts. Would packet puff pastry sprinkled with cinnamon and an ‘aggressive’ method in the saucepan yield success? Alas the pastry mantle was too thin, and the eggs, cream and vanilla transformed not into thick, unctuous creaminess but bland lumpiness. A whizz in the blender and the addition of a splash of orange-flower water patched it up temporarily but the union with the pastry was not a happy one. The whole date was an ‘epic fail’.
So what now? Do I try a new improved quick version from the aforesaid matchmaker or flirt with alternatives?
“The path of true love never did run smooth.” Will I ever achieve my Midsummer night’s custard dream or be doomed eternally to milk-pudding nightmares? Stay tuned for the next installment…