The short version of this post goes like this: remember when we made crème anglaise? That sauce made from milk, cream, and sugar, flavoured with vanilla and thickened with egg yolks, gently cooked on a double-boiler? If you put that sauce into a well-chilled household ice cream churn, you can make pretty good ice cream.
The long version of this post is more like this:
There are two broad styles of ice cream: Philadelphia and French. Philly ice cream typically contains only milk, cream, and sugar, while French ice cream also contains eggs. In fact, the crème anglaise we made last week is very, very similar to some recipes for French ice cream mix. The only difference is that … Continue reading.
While crème brûlée is immediately identifiable by the crust of burnt sugar on top, the custard itself has a very particular consistency and flavour. Since it is eaten out of a ramekin, it can have a much softer, moister curd that, say, crème caramel, which is unmolded on to a plate and is therefore firmer, and eggier.
In fact crème brûlée used to be even more moist than it is now. According to Harold McGee, crème brûlée used to be completely liquid, like crème anglaise, and was poured into a very shallow dish, dusted with sugar, and burnt. Before blowtorches became the norm the burnt crust was made by taking a heavy, metal plate out of some very … Continue reading.
To make custard sauce we carefully cooked a mixture of dairy, sugar, and egg yolks over a double boiler so that the yolks thickened but didn’t curdle, which only occurs within a very narrow band of temperatures around 80°C. It was nerve-racking.
It turns out that if you add starch to the mix, the eggs will never curdle, even if you boil the custard vigorously. The starch granules absorb heat, protecting the egg proteins, and the dissolved starch interferes with protein linking. Of course, the starch also thickens the custard, so you end up with something that is more like pudding than sauce.
This preparation is called pastry cream, or crème pâtissière, and it begins exactly as crème anglaise… Continue reading.
The French name for this custard sauce is crème anglaise, which means “English cream.” À l’anglaise is a descriptor given to many preparations in classic French cuisine. It is in fact mildly derogatory, as it always describes the most basic of preparations. For instance, vegetables prepared à l’anglaise are boiled, then served with butter and parsley. Meat dishes prepared a l’angaise are also always boiled. And crème anglaise is the most basic of dessert sauces, a pourable custard flavoured with vanilla.
So yes: this sauce is considered very ordinary within the context of classic cuisine. It is not usually a featured component, but an accompaniment, an afterthought.
After initial preparation, crème anglaise can go on to become a number … Continue reading.
Custard is broadly defined as a cooked mixture of liquid and egg. The liquid dilutes the egg protein, so when the mixture is cooked and the protein coagulates it forms a very delicate network that gives the custard structure. In western cooking the liquid is almost always milk and cream, though stock can also be used. In classical French cooking a royale is a custard made from stock and egg that is cut into geometric shapes and floated in consommé.
Most custards are comprised of roughly 4 parts dairy and 1 part egg. The inclusion of egg whites makes for glossier, firmer custards, while using only yolks creates softer, creamier versions.
What’s remarkable about custard is the variety of consistencies … Continue reading.