Thursday, December 1, 2022

Vanilla Custard made from Scratch

There are so many beautiful things involved with cooking your own custard. The result is just delightful. Making your own, without a packet of Foster Clark's custard powder to be seen is a labour of love, but so well worth it. Allow an hour max to make it. On the day of THE big event such as Christmas lunch, if you making it to have with Plum Pudding or dessert or even for an evening dinner, I would suggest making it first thing in the morning, even before you open the presents, and then it's done. In my part of the world in North Queensland, that's how we beat the heat on Christmas Day. Your custard will keep in a covered jug, on your kitchen bench until you are ready to serve it. This recipe is Part 2 to my previous post on how to cook your own Christmas Plum Pudding. This is the perfect custard recipe to serve with your Plum Pudding, with Apple Crumble, or another type of fruit crumble.

Using a precious Vanilla Pod is very special and gourmet in cooking, and brings a unique flavour to the custard. However, Vanilla Custard was made from scratch many years ago before we had access to vanilla pods, so good quality vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste will still work beautifully. It is definitely acceptable to substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla pod. However, vanilla essence can be of poor quality, so it is preferable to use a teaspoon of vanilla extract, not essence, or a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste will still disperse those beautiful flavours of vanilla through your custard.

 Did you know you can make your own vanilla extract quite easily by steeping 3 vanilla beans in 1/2 a cup of cheap vodka for about 4 weeks. This is all that vanilla extract is. You can find out more about how to make your own vanilla extract in a previous post I have written, at this link.

Before I made this jug of custard I compared Jamie Oliver's recipe to my family recipe, the one that we always used at home, and the only real difference was the use of the vanilla bean. There are many fancier ways of making vanilla custard from scratch, and Jamie Oliver has a great video and recipe which uses cream and milk and serves more people, but I am happy to use this more cost effective one, using more full cream milk and without the bottled cream. On Christmas Day, a custard without even more calories suits me just fine. It still tastes delicious and with a beautiful consistency.


Makes 500 ml, and serves 4-6 people. Allow an hour cooking time

600 ml full cream milk

4 large and very fresh free-range egg yolks

1 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon cornflour


Halve the vanilla bean down the middle lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites, and if you don't intend to use the whites in the short term, I suggest you store them in a covered container in the freezer for that pavlova you are making in the future.

 Add both the bean and the seeds to a saucepan on a medium-low heat, pour in the milk and bring the milk just to the boil. You will know this is starting to happen when light steam evaporates off the milk.

Take the saucepan off the stove, and leave to cool slightly, then remove the vanilla beans.

Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour until pale. (I started this before I heated up the milk.) My eggs never became really pale as I used large, organic, free range eggs from a local supplier. They were expensive, but I thought it was worth it.

Pour a ladle of milk into the bowl and whisk well.  

Then gradually add the warm milk, a ladle at a time, whisking well each time.

Pour the milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook gently on a low heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened, lightly whisking continuously in a figure of 8 motion. Please don't leave the stove or allow yourself to be interrupted during this process. It's only for 20 minutes at the most. Your reliable kitchen apprentice could help with this. 

To check if the custard is thickened, dip a wooden spoon into the custard, and run your finger along the back of the spoon. If this leaves a line through the custard it is thick enough.

This custard is delicious served with Christmas Plum Pudding, and any type of fruit crumble. You can find the link to my recipe for Christmas Plum Pudding here.

To quote Mr. HRK and our beautiful daughter, you can never have too much custard.

Warm wishes


  1. Custard made from scratch with real vanilla is definitely the way to go!

  2. Pauline, that is the way Mum made custard when we were growing up. Yum! Chel

  3. Seeing this beautiful custard, covered with a crocheted doily, brought to mind the BBC series for Anne of Green Gables. I am not sure if that book was popular Down Under but it was here. And there is a delightful scene in which Anne (who was always getting into troubles) leaves the cover off the custard and a mouse got into the custard (and died). I love your custard recipe! Thank you, Pauline.

  4. Your custard looks perfect, and home made is always best!
    from Tandy I Lavender and Lime

  5. Thanks so much David, we loved Anne of Green Gables Down Under, not that I saw many of the programs, and thanks so much for sharing the mouse story. I'll have to look out for reruns of it. That made me laugh.

    1. It was in the series that starred Meghan Follows -- I wish I could get it again. I used ot have it on VCR tapes... but that technology died long ago!

    2. David, I have no doubt that some production company will redo Anne of Green Gables one day. Live in hope. Thanks and take care.

  6. I love custard. In one way, it seems so simple, but in truth, it takes a lot of experience to get it just right. Yours sounds delicious!

    1. Thanks Jeff, My Mum made it look effortless, but there is quite a bit to it.

    2. So worth it though for us custard lovers.

  7. i was topping up my vanilla extract bottle the other day with some more vodka and a couple of extra beans. I realised the 'mother' is eight years old! And I was watching a YouTuber making some with bourbon rather than vodka. Sounded interesting. Yes real custard is the best.

    1. Thanks Sherry, I need to buy some more vodka and top mine up. I have a few of them, probably need to just consolidate them.

  8. What a fabulous treat and I love how you covered it with that beautiful Lacey cloth.

    1. Thanks Judee, it kind of suits such a nostalgic component of dessert, doesn't it?


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