Custard: smoothly does it

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Rasperry and passion fruit tart: one of Mark Sargeant's signature dishes
Rasperry and passion fruit tart: one of Mark Sargeant's signature dishes

Related tags Custard Cream Vanilla

If the experience at one newly-opened east London pub is anything to go by, the lumpy gloop that used to land on our dinner-plates at school has matured into something special.

The Marksman, opened by chefs Tom Harris and Jon Rotherham in May, offers a custard tart so popular that customers have even started to ring up and reserve orders for Sunday lunch. Harris claims he would be 'crucified' if he ever took it off the menu.

For something that is fundamentally based on three simple ingredients – eggs, sugar and milk – it might seem odd that custard has become something of a British institution.

But when you take a look at its versatility as a hot or cold option served with (and as part of) a variety of puddings, custard’s universal appeal becomes easier to understand.

Regular feature

Restauranteur Mark Sargeant, who opened his first pub in April, is a huge custard fan.

He plans to make it a regular menu feature at the Duke William, in Ickham, Kent, in the same way it currently is at his new Soho restaurant Morden & Lea – where a raspberry and passion fruit tart is currently available.

Sargeant believes custard is right for any time of the year. “You can make a crumble with whatever fruit is in season – apples, forced rhubarb, gooseberries – and flavour the custard to match,” he explains.

“Use cinnamon and star anise in winter, and mint or lavender in summer. Or, you can make the perfect Kentish cherry pie with an almond-infused custard.”

Two star Michelin chef Tom Kerridge has never been shy to make the most of custard either. At the Coach, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire – which opened last December – there is a fruit crumble with custard ice cream for £6.50.

Roly poly

Over at the Seafood Pub Company’s latest site – the Town Green Brasserie, in Aughton, Lancashire – there a jam roly poly with ‘proper’ custard is on the dessert menu for £4.95.

So how is ‘proper’ custard made? Well, according to Sargeant, it should ideally contain gold-top milk and good free-range eggs.

“I like Burford Brown eggs because they give it that amazing deep yellow tinge,” he explains. “Then, it’s about adding a pinch of cornflower, sugar and vanilla – before two-thirds milk and one-third double cream, to give it that rich, rounded flavour.”

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