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||Dear Nicey and co,|
Me and m’colleagues have been discussing custard, and have, rightly I believe, come to the conclusion that a drop in sales of ‘proper custard’ is indicative of a drop in the production of ‘proper’ i.e. homemade, trifle. So disturbed are we that we are now bent on the definition of what a 60s, retro, Christmas Day tea, after the turkey sandwiches trifle consists of. There is much dispute over the inclusion of jelly, and the type of fruit and cake to use, but we are all agreed that ‘proper custard’ and 100s and 1000s which dissolve to give a rainbow effect to the topping are essentials, as is the moulded glass bowl bought at Woolworths. We’re thinking of having a ‘trifle challenge’ in aid of charity – as one of the judges I’d appreciate your (and Nanny Nicey’s) thoughts on the matter.
Yours, a trifle excitedly (‘scuse the pun)
|Nicey replies: As you know Chris I'm not one for recipes but here is my trifle construction plan. In a measuring jug microwave one strawberry jelly in with a few tablespoons of water till its melted. Add a tin of strawberries in light syrup a hefty slug of cream sherry and make the whole lot up to a pint with cold water. Bung it in the trifle bowl and allow it to set. Take one pack of trifle sponges (you can use other sponges if you like but trifle sponges are best) and arrange them on top and douse them with a bit more sherry. Next cover in a pint of proper custard (not carton, not tub, not instant made with water, proper Birds custard made with milk), and allow to cool. After it has chilled in the fridge, whip up a pot of whipping cream and spread it on top. Then just before serving deploy hundreds and thousands or grate over some dark chocolate shavings.|
||Wax cartons of custard... an essential camping all rounder. On muesli for breakfast, with ginger cake for dinner, on dried fruit for tea, and as a good solid drink any time of the day...|
||Dear Nicey |
With utter horror I now find a whole year devoted to a childhood nightmare. Only behind blancmange does custard fall at the top in my list of foodstuffs consigned to Room 101. Granted I can appreciate some people find it an ideal pudding accompanyment but as a child on Sundays it would be terrible.
Sunday lunch would often see my brother and I last to finish, in which time my Parents had dished up pudding, invariably some left overs from a cricket tea - Mum's homemade scone drenched in custard. As we struggled through roast beef the custard would cool and slowly the dreaded 'skin' would form. I eventually developed a system of leaving it so long as to scoop the entire gelatinous glob off the pudding so as not to suffer the yellow menace.
Because of the forced endurance of this liquid/solid, when my Parents knew full well my brother and I did not like it, I have denied others this 'treat'. In school I would be terrified when the dinnerladies would wheel out the puddings and those enormous aluminium jugs would be sitting next to some sponge product. Foolishly one lady stopped at my table and I reached up to see what was in it, only to topple the entire contents over. Luckily I was not scarred for life by boiling custard but there were many who gave me dirty looks for not having custard that day.
I'd mention my pink blancmange fiasco too, as I believe in it's final state custard morphs into blancmange, but I am eating now and I do not wish to spoil anyones lunch, as I did, that fateful day in Primary school, the horror!
|Nicey replies: I like custard skin, its a treat. Blancmange is also wonderful, especially when deployed in its guise of pink custard or chocolate custard over school sponge pudding. I'll have yours if your not going to have it.|
I was wondering if you could help me, after a number of discussions with friends I/we are still wondering if their is such a 'job' as a biscuit designer (I believe there is!)
If you could get back to me i'd be grateful!
Thank you in advance
|Nicey replies: Well Samantha,
The all too obvious answer is, of course there is, otherwise how would we get new sorts of biscuits. They tend to called 'product development specialists' that sort of thing, rather than biscuit designers. As with anything manufactured on a large scale automation plays a huge part in what is possible, not just the recipes. So a bit of engineering know how as well as food science and of course a well tuned palette are needed. Think about all the machines that have to get jam, cream ad so forth in the right places for thousands of biscuits a minute. Depending on the size of the company will depend on how many people are involved in the development team, and how many of those roles are shared. In the United States many products are developed by third party companies to a clients brief or sometimes as blue sky projects that can then be licensed on to large manufacturers. This article from last years New Yorker magazine is an account of how some of these design processes take place. It makes a lot of silly and unsubstantiated parallels to software development which can safely be ignored. It's equally as interesting as it is bleak in its portrayal of mass produced food.
At the moment lots of recipes are being reformulated to remove the hydrogenated fat from them and as a result even old faithful biscuits are requiring a great deal of careful 'design' work on them.
Not really caring as a child for "puddings" in their traditional formulation (you know, fruit picked from brambles in a B-road lay-by, preserved for months in the deep freeze in a pink Tupperware container and then enveloped in heavy pastry and baked with apples to be served in pie form) custard was consumed not as an accompaniment, but as a stand-alone desert.
As an inquisitive boy I would sample raw materials straight from the pantry. Custard powder eaten dry, straight from the tin, or mixed with a little cold milk and a spoonful of sugar. An instant "hit", like the crack-cocaine version of custard I guess.
Also, Drinking chocolate
Marvel dried milk powder
I'm sure others must have enjoyed their favourite ingredients without the inconvenience of following the directions on the packaging?
P.S. Do not eat Five pints, cocoa powder or instant coffee, it just doesn't work
|Nicey replies: I had to make a 'steam engine' in metal work at school using an old Marvel tin and the lid off a baked beans tin. Although our metal work room appeared to have all the equipment to manufacturer our own fighter aircraft from scratch the steam engine (a small fan held by a bit of bent wire over a hole) was our engineering highlight, if we ignore the aluminium coat hook.
The younger members of staff have often said how much they would like to eat jelly cubes. Perhaps next birthday I'll let them rather than make a trifle. However, I really like trifle.