Easy Peasy Custard

Does anything say comfort more than warm homemade custard? Sure but for this post let’s say that custard is the pinnacle of sweet comfort food goodness. Sure there is the need to stand and stir and yes there is the mild anxiety you could end up with a big vat of scrambled eggs, but really, when you’re running the finger around the edge of the emptied saucepan you know it is all worth it.

Now some of you die hard foodies will baulk at this recipe, claiming it is not real custard due to the presence of cornflour, but you know what? I don’t care. I can whip this up toot sweet and watch my kids swoon and that makes the occasional shortcut worthwhile.

This is yet another Bill Granger recipe. What can I say, the shiny happy man can cook.

Easy Custard
Bill Granger

  • 300ml milk
  • 300ml cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Bring the milk and cream barely to the boil
  2. In a separate dish whisk the yolks with everything else
  3. Pour the milk and cream into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly
  4. Return it all to the saucepan and stir over a low heat for about 10 minutes. 

I mean COME ON, how simple and how delicious.

Daring Bakers Challenge – Lemon Meringue Pie

Completing a DBC always makes me puff out the chest and squeal ‘look what I made!’

This month was no different. The lovely Jen from Canadian Baker put the challenge out there – lemon meringue pie. A creation I had wanted to make but always got freaked out by never got around to.

So guess what. Look what I made!
Some of my initial thoughts on this recipe:
– the pastry was a delight to work with and I’m going to use it again
– the filling was an absolute CINCH to make and while it was cornflour based, it didn’t have too much of that clag glue consistency or, indeed, taste.
– the meringue – something I make time and time again – threw me. Stupid I know, but I was all ‘is that thick and glossy’ when I know exactly what thick and glossy meringue looks like. So I think I either over mixed it or perhaps undermixed it as it was more dry and aerated. Annoying. I was going to make it again but any dessert with three components and various cooking/cooling requirements need some time allocated, something I have very little of at the moment until the boys go back to school.
– I made 12 tartlets and 9 mini-tartlets – the minis were everyone’s favourite.
– there was a moderate concern about the amount of liquid that came from the meringues, but it seemed to settle down and didn’t impact the pastry or flavour.
– would I make it again? Definitely.

the mini version

Lemon Meringue Pie
From Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Wanda Beaver
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
  • 2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups (475 mL) water
  • 1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:

  1. Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible.
  2. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together.
  4. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk.
  6. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll.
  8. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm).
  9. Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin.
  10. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm).
  11. Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
  13. Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans.
  14. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  15. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden.
  16. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together.
  4. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
  5. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick.
  6. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth.
  7. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated.
  9. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  10. Pour into the prepared crust.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
  3. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks.
  4. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
  6. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Chocolate Pavlova

Being one to always love a variation on a theme, it stands to reason that on seeing Nigella’s Chocolate Pavlova my brain stored away the concept for long enough that I reached my action point – that moment when I say, ‘enough already’ and get baking the short list of items I’ve wanted to bake for forever and a day.

It’s an interesting concept and not one all traditionalists will approve of. In fact I suspect there will be pav lovers out there to who damn near perish at the thought of damaging a pav by adding cocoa and chocolate, but look, you have to try these things at least once I say.

I’ve made it twice and the second time was much better than the first. This was solely due to my crap-arse oven that doesn’t hold its temperature, even at a low one. Mine needed an hour and a half at 150C – so I’m afraid you’ll have to determine what works best for you with whatever the quality of your oven might be.

Chocolate Pavlova
Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer

  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
  • 1 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Beat the egg whites to satiny peaks then add the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny
  3. Sprinkle in the cocoa, vinegar and chocolate and fold through
  4. Mound onto the baking sheet in a circle about 23cm across
  5. Place in the oven and drop the temperature to 150C and cook for 1 to 1hr 15mins
  6. It should be crisp and dry on top and squidgy in the middle
  7. Allow to cool completely
  8. Invert on a big plate then decorate

Nigella uses 500ml double cream, 500g raspberries and 2-3 tbsp coarsley grated dark chocolate. I whipped 1 300ml carton of pouring cream, 2 punnets of raspberries and the choc.


It’s summer in Sydney and nothing says it’s hot in the city better than a pav.

Based on Stephanie Alexander, The Cooks Companion

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white-wine vinegar*
  • few drops pure vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. Beat egg whites with salt until satiny peaks form
  3. Add the sugar a tablespoon at a time**
  4. Sift over the cornflour and add the vinegar and vanilla and then fold through gently
  5. Mound onto the baking tray into a 20cm circle
  6. Place in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 150C.
  7. Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the cool completely

Serve with whipped cream and fruits of choice, although in our house passionfruit is compulsory.

Tips: if syrupy drops for on the surface of your meringue you’ve overcooked it; if liquid oozes from the meringue it’s undercooked – it’s a trial and error process with your oven.

* I just use standard white vinegar
** Stephanie’s recipe stipulates a third of the sugar at the time

The perfect poached egg

I make the perfect poached egg.
I’m serious. It has taken me years to get it right and now I can just do it time and time again.
A poached egg on toast is one of my most favourite meals of all time.
Tonight it was poached eggs on toast with fingers of leftover corned beef from last night for all.

Poached eggs

  • 1 egg
  1. Bring some water to barely a simmer in a deep sided small saucepan
  2. Swirl the water with the end of a spoon/knife/implement close at hand
  3. Crack the egg into the swirling water
  4. Turn the water down to the lowest it can go
  5. Time it for four minutes*.
  6. Get a large wide-faced spoon and scoop egg out, holding next to the edge of the saucepan to drain off any residual water.
  7. Slide onto toast, top with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  8. Eat this ultimate comfort food preferably in peace and quiet with some gently sunlight falling on your face.

* Depending on how low you can get your gas flame and the temperature of the egg before it went in, your egg will be ready bang on four minutes or maybe 30 seconds to a minute longer. That way there is no goodgy white bits and the yolk is sublimely runny.