This custard sauce is a recipe and skill every cook should master as it is the base of many other desserts from ice creams and mousses to crème brulee. Egg yolks are used to thicken the milk to form the custard which is traditionally flavoured with vanilla. Once mastered though don’t be confined to vanilla! At Christmas time I add a dash of brandy. Alternatively melt chocolate (white, milk or dark) with the milk for a gorgeous chocolate custard.
While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together until a light ribbon consistency.
Carefully pour the warmed milk into the beaten egg yolks, whisking continuously.
Pour the mixture back into the pot and over a medium heat continue to whisk until the custard thickens. Don’t overheat or the custard will curdle.
Crème patissiere, or pastry cream, is a thickened crème anglaise used as a filling for tarts or choux pastry. Crème patissiere is great in baking; I love it as a filling in brioche scrolls, a rhubarb and custard cake and scones like the ones below.
Follow the crème anglaise recipe as above but whisk in a quarter of a cup of flour to the egg and sugar mixture. This custard will thicken a lot more than the crème anglaise and you need to allow it to do this over a medium heat so that the flour cooks out.