When I'm rushing around in my modern kitchen trying to throw supper on the table, I often think about my 8th great grandma who lived nearby Albany who somehow managed to get her family fed in 1650's.
Custard is a dessert that has been around for ages. While it has had slight modifications, such as cornstarch instead of eggs, and variations in flavors from chocolate to lemon, this type of pudding has long been eaten by those in Europe and the British Empire. It travelled with the colonists to New England often called a "cream" and even considered as a type of medicinal food.
In our working landscape chickens and cows continue to be raised as livestock. Having desserts that use eggs, cream, and maple syrup makes economical sense. While early-American versions omitted the now common vanilla for flavoring, they used more adventurous flavors like brandy!
Here's the basic recipe that I follow. Adjust the amount of syrup to your tastes.
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla (don't skimp on this. make your own or order from King Arthur Flour)
- 3/4 cup of Glabach Maple Farms syrup (darker the grade the better)
- 4 fresh eggs
- Turn on your oven to 325 degrees. Locate a 8x8 pan (a brownie pan works great) that the custard will be poured into. Then find a large casserole pan that it can sit in. Fill that pan with an inch of water.
- Heat your milk in a saucepan until JUST before it boils. I use a meat thermometer to keep track of temp as it happens quickly.
- In a big bowl mix the eggs but don't beat them. I slowly stir them with a fork.
- This is the sometimes scary part where you are tempering the milk with the eggs. If you poured the eggs into the milk you'd get a weird scrambled eggs situation! Instead slowly pour the milk into the bowl stirring as you go.
- Pour in the syrup and vanilla into the bowl.
- Pour into your pan within a pan steam-bath set up. It will cook for about 30-40 minutes. Your goal is to have the middle be firm and the top to not be browned.