Crème Anglaise (or English Cream custard) is a fundamental pastry recipe, a splendid preparation that you will need to accompany apple pies, sponge cake, panettone, pandoro, but it is also excellent if served as a dessert in cups or if you dip in it a couple of shortbread biscuits.
Do you know when those fancy chefs put the sauce on the plate and then the desserts on it? Here, 99 times out of a hundred, the sauce is our English friend.
But why is it so often confused with custard? Let’s see the ingredients: it is a preparation based on egg yolks, milk (or cream), vanilla and sugar. That’s all. It looks like the classic lemon custard but is more delicate, less dense and more liquid, because it does not contain flour or corn starch.
And that’s precisely why it’s so challenging to make this classic pastry recipe: starch and flour prevent the cream from “boiling” conversely, with the English cream, you can’t get the temperature wrong. There are no parachutes or second chances.
If the milk temperature is too high, the cream is “boiled,” and yolk clots form, compromising the success of the preparation.
How to get rid of clots in Crème Anglaise?
Of course, a trick to recover and save the cream is to blend with an immersion blender. Dip, blend and the cream becomes liquid, but this is an extreme remedy not to waste anything: the result will be approximate.
So how to do it? The secret to making the perfect custard is to work calmly and use an instant thermometer to prevent the cream from exceeding 85 degrees centigrade, the temperature of no return.
In this way, you will have absolute control of the recipe, which is not difficult if you know what and how to do the various steps of the preparation.
Once the cream is cooked, it is necessary to cool it immediately: either put it in the freezer for a few minutes or simply immerse the pan where you cooked the cream in a container full of water and ice to cool it quickly.
Enough, that’s all! You don’t need degrees in chemistry or abstruse methods, but just an instant thermometer and you will become the English wizard.
Should I use cream or milk for making Crème Anglaise?
Last note before leaving: usually you use milk, but to make it more sumptuous (but also fatty and caloric!), part of the milk can be replaced with cream.
It is up to you to decide, but if the cream is the protagonist of the dessert, like a cream served in a cup, you can also make it with cream. On the contrary, if you have to “fill” brioches or add it to cakes (already fat and caloric), it is better to cut the cholesterol and use plain milk.
Ingredients and doses for making the perfect Crème Anglaise
For 6 people, 1 liter of custard
- 800 ml of milk or cream or a mixture of the two ingredients 700 ml of milk and 100 of cream are a good proportion
- 200 grams of egg yolks
- 200 grams of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean or the peel of 1 untreated organic lemon
How to make the perfect crème anglaise
The key lies in managing the temperature and rationally organizing the work not to lose precious time when the cream is cooked. So prepare everything in advance: bowl with water and ice in the freezer.
Put the milk and cream in a thick-bottomed saucepan and turn on the stove to medium temperature.
Score the pod lengthwise, remove the vanilla with a knife, and put it in the saucepan.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a small bowl for a few minutes with a whisk.
Check the temperature of the milk and when it reaches 70-75 degrees, pour the mixture of egg yolks and sugar inside and continue to cook over low heat, constantly stirring with the whisk to prevent clots from forming.
You may not know it, but if you check the ingredients, the custard is identical to the creme brûlée, only in this case we don’t want to overcook the mixture but make it thicken slightly. And to do this, just cook the cream carefully, perhaps removing it from the stove if the temperature rises, but strictly avoiding exceeding 85 degrees. So cook, stir with one hand and check with the other.
To understand if the custard is cooked, stir it with a spoon and if it adheres slightly, it forms a veil and does not slip off too quickly it is cooked. The most delicate step is now: you have to cool it immediately. Then take the ice, put it in the bowl full of water, place the pan with the cream, and let it cool.
Wait a few minutes, then put it in the refrigerator or use it to accompany cakes and any cakes. With apple pie, it’s a dream!
Can starch be added to Crème Anglaise?
Many recommend adding a little starch to facilitate the preparation of this cream, but you don’t need these shortcuts. It would become a hybrid, it would be like playing dirty and you want to make the original recipe, the perfect one.
So no starch, just be precise and careful and everything will be fine.
Over time you will be able to gain confidence and no longer need the thermometer: you will understand when the cream is ready just by mixing it.