Eggs are always in season

Thanks to Mum and her nine lovely ladies in the backyard, we have a fairly continuous supply of beautiful, home-laid eggs.

Every now and then I crack one of these fine eggs and mix the yolk with some milk, vanilla, sugar and cornflour in a saucepan to make a quick custard. I had never made a baked custard in my life. But suddenly the other morning, when the pizza oven was still “hot” (about 100C) from a roast the night before, it occurred to me to try it. I dug out Mum’s ancient recipe books – the kind that have a whole column of the index devoted to Invalid Cookery (Fricassee of Brains; Tripe and Onions, etc.) – and found a recipe for Plain Baked Custard.

And while the rest of my family went on a long bike ride, rescued a fallen cyclist with concussion and returned home feeling cold and tired but virtuous, I whipped up second breakfast and felt, well actually, hungry most of that time. Because as it turns out, 100C in a pizza oven is no substitute for the 400F specified, even if you do leave it in there for TWO FREAKING HOURS! While 10 minutes on Defrost in the microwave turns out to be just sweet perfection after those two hours of waiting and salivating and checking. Honestly, this custard was so light, delicate, perfectly set and utterly soul-nourishing that I had to eat the lot and destroy the evidence before the family came home.

So here it is – my first and hopefully last microwave recipe:

PLAIN BAKED CUSTARD (adapted from ‘Cooking the Electric Way’ 2nd edition, 1950-something by Edith Kinnear, Joyce Johnsen, Beryl H. Young and M. Jane Willington). Do you suppose I’ll live to see a new generation of Ediths, Joyces, Beryls and Janes? Imagine them all with their little backpacks and hats on for their first day at school…

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • dash of vanilla essence (no-one had vanilla beans in the ’50s, did they? Or microwaves for that matter)
  • nutmeg

METHOD

  • Beat eggs and sugar, add essence
  • Warm milk (microwave in a heatproof jug) and pour over eggs, mix well.
  • Pour into a greased pie dish; grate (or just sprinkle) a little nutmeg over the top.
  • Microwave on lowest setting until almost set – give it a few minutes at a time; then allow to cool to just lukewarm if you can possibly wait that long.
  • Serve with a very sharp, old-fashioned silver teaspoon to appreciate its silky smooth set texture.
  • Lovely with good old-fashioned preserved fruit too.

Andrew's 'dome tent' versions of chook dome, c.2005, with annexe.

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10 Responses to Eggs are always in season

  1. Stephanie says:

    Love using old cookbooks!

    • Di says:

      I’ve just come upon a cookbook called “The Possum Cookery Book” c.mid1960s, Adelaide, published in aid of Minda Home Inc for Miss Minda Telethon. It’s like a mini “Green and Gold Cookery Book”. Great basic recipes. I don’t know how to put pictures
      on my Reply – can you advise me?

  2. Di says:

    I loved this one…..the picture it conjures up is delicious.
    i’ve returned to the pre-war recipes – clean and unencumbered.

    • Thanks Di – any favourites to try out?

      • Di says:

        This recipe has been a family morish/comfort food fav since I was a wee slip of a thing handed down from my step-grandmother, Christobel Rix, (born in the 1890s). It’s delicious for all ages.
        Be warned though: this is the adult version with cayenne pepper and tasty cheeses and
        can burn your mouth if eaten straight from the oven because of the hot cheeses in the dough. They’re not wonderfully crunchy when they’re still hot – do delay the gratification and WAIT to cool.

        MAPPY’S CHEESE RUSKS
        250g SR flour
        100g butter
        100g grated cheese (your choice – mine parmisan and tasty chedar)
        2 eggs
        water

        METHOD
        1. Rub butter into flour; mix in remaining ingredients to form a scone mixture
        2. Cut into strips (I make them approx 6cm thick & 2cm wide). Work out the size you want for yourself. They sound fiddly small, but that’s how we like them because we make them strong in taste.
        3. Cut strips up into segments 4cm long pieces. They’re meant to be bite size morsels of cayene punch.
        4. Cook in a very hot oven, approx 220C for about 5 mins until golden brown, winking and glinting at you.
        5. Take out of oven cool slightly to enable handling.
        6. Split each delicious rusk into half – long ways – so they’re still long but half as thick.
        7. Put back into hot oven and bake until golden on the now exposed doughy inside. Maybe another 5 minutes depending on your oven – just keep an eye on them.
        8. Take out of the oven and put on a cake cooler.
        When cold they will harden up and be very crisp.
        Store in an air tight container – if you can.
        Decadence: we sometimes butter them them too……………..
        Now, as I said above the size & shape of each rusk is up to your preference. I keep them small because we dive into them and they last longer – a bit like having walnuts/almonds/macadamias in their shells and shelling them as needed rather than pre shelled. The shelling is the eating time and stops over gorging.
        if you so happen to have some left over and they go soft, whipping them into a hot oven will crisp them up again (or if you use a microwave – 20 seconds on high for a plateful, but be careful as they can burn very quickly). Again, allow to cool before storing or they’ll go soft, or eating, as the hot cheese will burn your mouth.

      • Yum – thanks Di! That will be a definite pizza oven standby. How much cayenne do you use?

      • Di says:

        Just a pinch, Nadja(?), and adjust to your own palates over time as you make them – oh yes! Woopsadaisy, I see i forgot to mention cayene!

  3. Pressure cookers make great baked custard – well, not baked, but just like it. And so fast and easy, it’s a regular breakfast in our house. I go for plain, or chocolate, but my daughter’s invention is white chocolate and raspberry custards with a teaspoon of lady gray tea in the steaming water! Here’s my recipe: http://witcheskitchen.com.au/the-breakfast-challenge-pressure-cooker-5-minute-baked-custard/.

    • Gorgeous! Thanks Linda. I have resisted the pressure cooker revolution since growing up on soggy grey vegies cooked in one (blergh), but I can feel one inching its way towards me… something about the words ‘white chocolate’ and ‘raspberry’ just brought it that much closer ;)
      And thank you for kick-starting us along the permie path some years ago with ‘The Permaculture Home Garden’ – it has pride of place on our bookshelf (in between visits to friends’ houses) and inspired Andrew’s rectangular dome-tent version of your chook dome, home to four happy hens and a henpecked rooster at our last place (see pic at bottom of post). :)

    • Di says:

      i adore my pressure cooker……….but have never done the baked custard route. i will definately try it esp now i’ve got the basic ingredients readily on hand. i also adored the chook dome I made from your book Linda in the late ’80s. it was standard full size and stood proud in my garden and served chooks & me for many many years.

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