There are three things that stand out as remarkable on my first trip to England so many lifetimes ago; seeing Bob Geldoff and his girlfriend Paula Yates in all of their punk magnificence cross the King’s Road in London, traveling England to see XTC six times and finally having dinner with them in Edinburgh Scotland, and finally on a cold day in a small crowded diner, having tea and a piece of apple tart that seemed to be happily drowning in a pool of warm, smooth custard sauce.
Even though I don’t often listen to Boomtown Rats or XTC (although still a punk at heart) I often find myself making custard sauce. Good for my soul and even better on just about anything sweet.
As an apprentice cook in the nineties I made gallons of creme anglaise, which is really just custard sauce, but with a prettier more expensive sounding name. My recipe is a bit of a cheat on creme anglaise as it is thickened (stabilized) with corn starch making it easier to make as it’s less likely to curdle and as the name implies cheaper, as less egg yolks are used.
I really do make this sauce quite often, it makes any dessert more special, and for me, it brings back some really great memories of being young, broke and completely fearless. God save the Queen!
Based on Economical Custard sauce in The National Trust Book of Traditional Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams (home-made custard sauce is ALWAYS better then the yellow powdery stuff that comes from the can)
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup 35% cream
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Put milk and vanilla bean (cut down the middle) if using, into a two-quart saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, cover, and leave to infuse for 10 minutes before proceeding.
In a medium-sized bowl, rapidly whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually stir in the still warm milk, whisk, then return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook, over a medium-low heat while stirring with a wooden spoon for about 10 minutes or until it is thick and silky smooth. Be patient, and don’t turn the heat up or it will curdle. This little bit of work will yield a sensational sauce.
Strain through a sieve and pour into a serving container, serve chilled or warm from the pot, which is how I prefer it.
Now go make some memories of your own. Not sure who Boomtown Rats or XTC are? Google them or https://youtu.be/opd14v2I7Ik