Cooking Custard Fillings

Baking By grandmomof1 Updated 4 Jul 2012 , 3:44am by tigachu

grandmomof1 Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 6:04pm
post #1 of 19

Why is it that most recipes for custard tell you to get the milk hot, then gradually add yolks? I know it will cook the egg, but what changes really happen if you were to add the yolks to the cold milk before it got hot and then continue to cook it? My grandmother made an old fashioned vanilla pudding and she always put the eggs in the cold milk. I know there has to be a reason, but was just wondering why?

18 replies
grandmomof1 Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 6:55pm
post #2 of 19

I guess everyone else is confused about it too?

hieperdepiep Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 7:08pm
post #3 of 19

The eggs cannot be boiled to boiling waterpoint, unless you want scrambles eggs icon_wink.gif , but for hygiene and duration it is good to cook the milk first.

BakingIrene Posted 19 Jun 2012 , 9:49pm
post #4 of 19

You can mix the yolks with the cold milk and starch and cook it that way but you MUST stir it continuously until it thickens. I do this all the time. Works for up to a quart of milk. I just don;t plan anything else for that half hour.

If you add hot milk to yolks then you can get lumps of yolk. You blend the yolks with some cold milk, and add the hot milk slowly while mixing well. The you put the whole thing back on the stove and cook to the same endpoint as the all-in-cold way.

The difference is that you can let milk heat on low heat without having to stir it all the time. The difference is mereley convenience.

grandmomof1 Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 2:20am
post #5 of 19

Thanks, BakingIrene. I was just making sure it didn't do anything to the texture. I know trial and error are your best course, but I always hate the wasted materials and money that goes along with the "errors."

cheatize Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 2:23am
post #6 of 19

Oh, BakingIrene, please don't stand there and stir for half an hour! lol
I bought a RoboStir and I love it! No more standing over a hot stove. I just check on it once in awhile.

scp1127 Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 9:53am
post #7 of 19

The main reason is scientific. Milk, when simmered, about 185 degrees (use a thermometer so you get to a simmer without scalding), will change structure and make for a better final custard. After the simmer, the easiest way to add the eggs is to take it off the burner and watch the thermometer drop the 20 degrees, under 160 where eggs cook (you don't want that), scoop some of the milk, and temper the eggs by pouring the milk over the eggs while rapidly whisking.

At this point, for safety, the custard must be brought back to 160 degrees, you must see the big burps of bubbles, lower the temp and whisk for 1 minute. Now the structure of the custard is at its best and the eggs have reached the magic 160, per the FDA, for safety. A bad recipe will still make a bad custard, but the above method will work on a stable recipe.

You can add the eggs to cold milk, but the structure will not be at its best. Also, our grandmothers were not as cautious about food safety. But food safety is important when selling or donating.

I have one recipe that puts the milk and eggs together. It is not one of my finer custards. I changed it to use the proper method and the quality is better. As stated by hieperdiep, eggs cannot reach 185 degrees and I'm not sure the chemical structure of the milk will actually change if the eggs are present.

hieperdepiep Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 11:58am
post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by scp1127

The main reason is scientific. Milk, when simmered, about 185 degrees (use a thermometer so you get to a simmer without scalding), will change structure and make for a better final custard.

Yes, that is actually true. It's probably not all about the hygiene as I stated. Althought that will help as well. You can taste the difference, see it even by eye: milk looks creamier when brought to a simmer. It is probably the protienstructure that changes?

SCP1127; I love to read about the scientific part of baking. Do you have any reference by chance, books you know about that?

scp1127 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 8:28am
post #9 of 19

Hieperdiep, I started with Alton Brown's, I'm Just here For More Food, and went to The Cake Bible, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, Bakewise, and then to favorite authors who specialize in scientific baking.

You will learn tons from Joanne Chang, Gesine Bullock-Prado, David Lebovitz, Dorie Greenspan.. I could go on all day. I'm a cookbook fanatic. I msut have over 20 and I read them like novels. I take them on planes and to the beach.

On Alton Brown's, be sure to get the one with "More" in the title. The other one is about cooking. His book reads like a high school chemistry book. Also watching his shows are always a science lesson.

But I really research the web now too. I start on a subject ad then research it to death. Like egg safety and properties. I go to only official sites like fda, .gov, usda, .edu. and the egg board. Be careful because on searches you get lots of opinion.

The milk issue with custards was actually a recent search. I too was curious about heating the milk. If you watch, it gets translucent and thin at 185.
Read those books cover to cover. The best parts are not the recipes, but the wisdom shared in the narratives.

hieperdepiep Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 11:48am
post #10 of 19

Thanks scp1127, just what I was hoping for. This will get me through my summer at the beach and vacantion in France this summer.

I found the web sometimes difficult for searching. You actually have to be quite intelligent to get some reliable information out of all the huddle.
Althougt internet seems to be a medium to get information equally spread amongst all people, educated or not, it sometimes seems it can become a disadventage when you know too little.

I like those internet searches as you describe, but it can sometimes take me a full evening to just get 1 answer on a difficult question.

I'll be looking for the 'dot...' wich you mentioned.

sfandm Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 11:53am
post #11 of 19

SCP1127, I completely agree with everything you said, I have been making coconut cream pie from scratch, the same recipe for 20+ years, I have it evrery year for Thanks and XMas, my families favorite. The recipe calls for the exact same directions you stated. I always take about 1 cup of my hot mixture out and while using a fork, I s-l-o-w-l-y, like a teaspoon at a time, drop the hot mixture into the egg yols, after they have been beaten, I whisk the hot mix with egg yolk using a fork, until I have used the cup, then, I s-l-o-w-l-y add the egg yolk mixture back into the pan, stirring the entire time with a whisk, and continue to whisk while the burner is on low heat until all has been added. I continue to stir until thick and bubbly. Be very careful as the first few times I made this custard, it burned slightly on the edges, which I had to remove, I might have to check on that Robostir. Just my opinion.

cheatize, how high is the robostir, I seem to remember the commercial, but it looks like there isn't much in the pan. I would love to buy one, but I started doubling my pie recipe, so there is more in the pan now, I don't want to submerge the thing. Anyone know? Thanks

scp1127 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 1:30pm
post #12 of 19

sfandm, I adore making pies. I just made a new recipe for lemon meringue that blew away my best recipe. It wasn't mine, but with experience, it gets easy to judge recipes that will will be exceptional.

You know that part where I mentioned getting the liquid below 160 before tempering? I have never read that. It just made sense to me. Since I started that, I have not once had the "accidental" tiny cooked eggs that must be strained even if a few are present.

I'm also heavier on the thickeners than most recipes call for. I prefer a stiffer custard for pies and German Buttercream.

hieperdepiep, I envy you. My family is from France. I studied the language for five years and my daughter is now in her fifth year. My daughter's boyfriend is taking her to France next year for a graduation (high school) present. He took Spanish. Good luck to him. I would have loved to have been borrn and raised in Europe. Have a great vacation.

hieperdepiep Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:34pm
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by scp1127

Have a great vacation.

Thanks! France has this magical power to draw people. Youre doughter will love it. We're lucky to live close by. But I suppose every country has its own beauty. I would love to go to the states some day.

I actually love to have not much thickener in, for say, my orange curd. I love the silky structure it then has, almost runny, waiting for me to catch it just before it falls off the cake on the plate. I just put eggs and butter in it for thickening. A personal preference I suppose. icon_smile.gif

BakingIrene Posted 25 Jun 2012 , 2:15am
post #14 of 19

I find that the last five minutes of cooking custard regardless of how you started takes vigorous stirring over the entire bottom of the pot to prevent anything starting to stick.

I grew up scalding milk on a regular basis for breadmaking. You can see the change in the edge that said "take it off right now". I grew up cooking custard both ways, and I can't honestly say that I can tell enough of a difference to worry about it--providing that you have kept some of the cold milk with the eggs and cornstarch.

I now cook custards with more starch, so I find it safer to just cook once, in terms of keeping the bottom scrupulously clean of any hing of sticking or browning.

Adam101 Posted 26 Jun 2012 , 6:53am
post #15 of 19


Originally Posted by scp1127

SCP1127; I love to read about the scientific part of baking. Do you have any reference by chance, books you know about that?

If you would really like to learn about the science behind baking as well as cooking, Harold McGee is the author of which Alton Brown and his writer's get their material. Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a classic and great read.

hieperdepiep Posted 26 Jun 2012 , 7:23pm
post #16 of 19
Originally Posted by Adam101

If you would really like to learn about the science behind baking as well as cooking, Harold McGee is the author of which Alton Brown and his writer's get their material. Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a classic and great read.

Thanks for the advise!! I will be looking for this one too.

I have the book 'The secrets of baking' by Sherry Yard. She is so good about explaining the science about pastries and adding some beautiful patissery- recipies. She has a full chapter about vanillia sauce. .. but nothing about shimmering milk.. but everything about the eggs and coalgulation.

scp1127 Posted 28 Jun 2012 , 4:48am
post #17 of 19

Thanks Adam.

My big help for custards are my porcelain covered cast iron pots. They are the best for custards. Slow, even heat and enough insulation that scorching and sticking are less likely.

Chiara Posted 30 Jun 2012 , 8:02am
post #18 of 19

My mother baked out of her head. She used to make custards with eggs, sugar and milk in Pyrex bowls. Poverty cooking really. I just loved this entire discussion. I have never ever been able to find a recipe like what we ate and she has long since passed.
I too hope to get to France one day. I have sent both my boys there last summer and now have a friend's son here from Buc for a month. He wants more traditional American baking then French baking. But I must say I love my crepes and mon rabo.
Bone appetit et merci pour le sujet.

tigachu Posted 4 Jul 2012 , 3:44am
post #19 of 19

I just wanted to thank scp1127 for her suggestion to bring the milk to 185 degrees and let the temp drop about 20 degrees before incorporating into the yolks. I followed her suggestions, using my handy infrared thermometer and now my custard is absolutely perfect! thumbs_up.gif

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