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Custard Cream Review
|Ah, when I was younger custard was always Bird's. In fact, an offer of 'nanas and custard was usually turned down with a "can I just have the custard?".|
Then we upped and moved to more southern waters, where there was no Bird's (or even custard creams!), and the natives preferred something rather vile called Ultramel. This way too viscous stuff came out of a tetrapak carton and was an unnatural shade of yellow. Strangely enough, I went off eating it altogether. (Although I would still eat far too many custard creams if I could get my hands on them).
My husband and I have now moved again, to another southern clime, where I managed to find some ludicrously priced Bird's powder (and some custard creams!). Since making it for hubby, I've realised that I actually do like the stuff. In fact, I like it even more when I make it myself from eggs, sugar, vanilla, etc. I like it kind of 'tuesdayish' I think. Runny (or Creme Anglais-y if you want to be posh). It just musn't come ready made out of a carton. Eww.
Thanks for the bittersweet reminders of my favourite biccies. Think I need some tea now.
||Hi Nicey and Wifey,|
I bought the book from Ottokars and keep randomly dipping into it for my amusement. I did not see the name of Gray Dunn with caramel wafers but my reading method might have skipped over it. I think they did a popular advertising campaign on TV at least ten years ago. Not that I like them any more than cardboard/Rivita. I endorse the assessment of the fig biscuits, they are some kind of perfection but they can go rock hard if not kept properly in a sealed biscuit tin. They don't normally last long enough to find that out.
It would be interesting to know what your readers use for biscuit tins. I have an old round one with a flower pattern on the lid but I also keep them in a modern sealable plastic container. I hear you screaming the word 'sacrilege'. I also have an old chromed biscuit barrel that I think goes back to my parents' wedding day in 1947. It has an inner container, like a little bucket, but does not hold a sufficient quantity of biscuits and it does not feel right to separate them into two places.
I hope that you don't mind but I have attached a photo of our workplace brewing area, exactly as it is every day, with its industrial teapot and messy fridge below. Mine is the KitKat mug. Note the rusty spoon and build-up of tannin in the teapot. The cleaning lady is under very strict instructions NEVER to clean the insides of the teapot. We always think it keeps the tea away from the metal and, anyway, it is probably bad luck if someone cleans it out. Out of the picture, there is a box of 100 Tetley teabags from the 'pound shop'.
The custard picture from your website is now my computer background picture. Yum!
Keep up the good work. I am enjoying the book.
|Nicey replies: Hello Jack,
That's a wonderful photo of tea making equipment, just the sort of thing I was after when I took the photos for the book. I like the brown tray underneath it all too and the reflections in the kettle. The teapot is glorious, I'm particularly impressed with the black wire handle over the spout to aid pouring. I'm also enjoying the old 10Base2 networking points behind the fridge.
Sadly we were informed a while back that Grey Dunn ceased trading in 2001 so I suppose I should really put an entry up or them in the missing in action section.
I think that your interest in custard is well timed. On a recent circuit of my local Tesco store, I found many new ready-made custards which I had not noticed before. These were positioned near stocks of desert which might benifit from a custard accompanyment. It seems someone has decided that custard is "in".
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the yellow stuff. Harrowing experiences at school, involving yucky grey tasteless gloop with a skin like old roofing felt left me deeply suspicious of anything I was offered to pour over a desert when eating out. To this day I cannot stand the thought of cold custard.
For me, my mums custard (made with Birds powder) is the standard by which all others are judged.
There are certain deserts which seem to demand custard; the most obvious being rhubarb crumble.
In recent years squirty cream has largely replaced custard in our household as it is more popular with the kids.
Zoe Healys email reminded me of a story my mum told about her childhood in Edinburgh. The strong Calvinist ethos in one area of the city had lead to a local council ban on the sale of ice cream on Sundays.
However, trade continued as normal except on Sunday you had to buy "frozen custard"!
||Really pleased to see you giving time to the Great British institution that is custard. Where would we be if there was no custard to top of our crumble - choking on a bit of wheatgerm probably. I can't imagine an apple pie (with or without the little pastry leaves) without it, and as for a good steamed pudding with Golden Syrup, Pah! Without custard we Brits would be nothing more than savages.|
And how to make it? Well I'm not a great chef, but I prefer the traditional method of using Birds custard in the cardboard tin thing - I don't hold with this modern paper sachet stuff or, worse still, the pre-made variety. I cook it carefully on the stove, stirring at all times, often listening to Nimrod by Elgar. (Important not to try using the wooden spoon as a baton at the more uplifting moments.) My fiancee prefers using the Microwave, and this is the only cause of strife between us, however, it does mean that you can locate the glowing irradiated abomination easily during candlelit suppers...
My everlasting memory from school however was that as the week progressed, custard got thinner. On Monday, it was almost cut from a slab and placed, slice by slice onto something substantial enough to support its weight, such as a good solid apple and rhubarb pie. By Friday, it was thin and watery; more suitable for mixing with the glucous mass that was school stewed fruit. My personal favourite was Wednesday custard, thick enough to cover a sponge pudding with pride, and fluid enough to flow all the way around the edges. Monday custard is prety good in a trifle though.
I'd be interested to know what other custard lovers prefer, the Monday, Wednesday, or Friday variety. Perhaps the more cosmopolitan readers might even like the Tuesday or Thursday types.
P.S. I've just come back from Greece. No custard there, so hardly worth bothering with puddings!
||Dear Nicey and Wifey|
I just wanted to add my small voice to the pouring out of praise for that wonderful substance, custard. Indeed, there are few puddings better, quicker or more convenient than a sliced banana and plenty of custard made fresh from the tin - Birds of course. And, when it comes to Christmas pudding, why mess around with brandy butter or sweet white sauce? Custard is best, every time.
My husband disagrees. He thinks that cream is the better desert lubricant and even eats bananas and cream! Ugh! He also prefers the kind of custard that is already made up in cartons or yoghurt pot type thingies. This to my view is far too sweet and usually too thick.
I'd also like to add our family ritual for trifle creation. Slices of raspberry jam swiss roll soused in sherry of your choice or sweet wine, fresh or previously frozen raspberries, generous layer of BIrds best, whipped cream and flaked almonds. Heaven in a bowl.
|Nicey replies: Bananas and Custard are a brilliant pudding, frequently deployed here at NCOTAASD HQ when the younger members of staff have polished off all their main course. I have to admit to liking Christmas pudding with mostly custard and a dash of cream.
As for trifle, there simply isn't enough of it around.