Comfort food

In these strange and uncertain times, I’ve been indulging a penchant for some traditional comfort food. Some of these weren’t necessarily favourites in childhood, when the exotic was more appealing than the everyday, but now have a nostalgic appeal.

The other day saw us with braised beef and herby dumplings, but today is a sweet treat, albeit very simple.

Baked Egg Custard

Baked egg custard

4 eggs

Scant 2oz sugar (if you have vanilla sugar, use that, or add optional drop of good vanilla extract or essence)

1pt milk (semi-skimmed is fine or full cream for a richer mix)

Nutmeg

Little butter for dish.

Preheat oven to 170, 150 fan.

Lightly butter a 2pt dish.

Beat the eggs lightly with the sugar. Heat the milk gently to boiling point, add to eggs, whisking constantly.

Pour mixture through a sieve (optional) into the prepared dish. Pour hot water into the baking tray (enough to come halfway up the dish).

Sprinkle grated nutmeg over the top.

Place baking tray with water carefully in the oven, then put the custard dish into the tray and bake for about 40 minutes. Check from 35 mins on. A metal skewer poked into the centre will come out clean when set, but there should still be a bit of wobble when you shake the dish.

Serve hot or cold. If serving hot, leave to stand for 25 minutes or so.

———

Try variations – top with a sprinkle of ground cardamom for a change, or cinnamon, or leave plain and serve with a tsp of jam.

Add the finely grated zest of an orange and a half-to-full teaspoon of orange flower water to the custard, omit the nutmeg. Delicious! Particularly good with the richer, part cream, version.

Serve alone, or with fresh fruit such as raspberries, stewed fresh fruit or bought compote. Rhubarb and apple both work well. For a store-cupboard tea, use longlife milk and serve with tinned fruit!

Top with a teaspoon of soft strawberry or raspberry jam or gently warmed marmalade.

Top when cool with a thin layer of soft brown sugar and caramelise with a blowtorch or under a hot grill.

For a luxury version replace a little of the milk with cream.

Use 6 individual pots, check after 20-25 minutes.

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