Friday, March 18, 2005

Caramel Custard

I'm so blog is celebrating its first event! It is an appropriately sweet one :) Actually, I did participate in the IMBB: Beans event but I did not have a blog then and Cathy from My Little Kitchen who hosted the IMBB was wonderful enough to post my humble li'l entry on her blog. I enjoyed the experience so much that I started writing my own blog- thank you for the inspiration Cathy!

On to Sugar High Friday. When I read that Debbie from Words To Eat By has chosen the theme Caramel, I was saved the trouble of thinking of what to make. In my mind, CARAMEL=CARAMEL CUSTARD.

I am not really a dessert person. Some days I like mango ice-cream and chocolate mousse. I enjoy the occasional slice of pecan pie. But on days when I am tired or upset, in need of a hug, I simply crave caramel custard. It is the first dessert that I ever learnt to make back home in India. In India, caramel custard is often steamed in a pressure cooker (without using the pressure). Since I was making a tried and tested recipe, I wanted to use a new method of cooking it to make it a learning experience for me. Enter the bain marie, where the custard is baked in a water bath.

My obsession for food shows on PBS have ensured that I have watched the bain marie in action so I was pretty eager to try it for myself. The only bain that I could think of was my standard 13x9 glass baking tray. The only thing that would now sit in it holding my custard was my non-stick loaf pan. Certainly an odd contraption to make custard in but it worked.

To make the caramel, I placed 4 tbsp of sugar ( with some drizzles of water) in the non-stick loaf pan and placed it on the stove top, then fussed over it for several minutes turning it this way and that till the sugar started caramelizing. Soon a lovely brown layer of caramel was coating the pan and I hastily pulled the pan off and set it aside. One learns the hard way that there is a thin line between caramel and charcoal.

To make the custard, I started by scalding two and a half cups of whole milk , then dissolving 2 tbsps of sugar in the hot milk. I added a slice of bread to the hot mixture so that the bread soaked and swelled and gave way. I know bread is not traditionally part of this recipe but I really like the "body" that it lends to the custard. I let this mixture cool while I watched Jacques Pepin: Fast Food My then the mixture was cool enough so I cracked 2 eggs into it and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Then using an immersion blender I whirred the whole thing into a wonderful custard and poured it into the pan with the caramel.

For the bain marie, I poured boiling water 1/3 of the way into the 13x9 dish and placed that in a 325 deg F oven. Then I placed my custard pan gently into it and held my breath for about 30 minutes. I did not expect it to cook so quickly but by 30 minutes it was done and the knife came clean. I had to chill it for 3 hours and then eagerly turned it onto another tray. Hallelujah! My first attempt at bain marie was a success. The texture of the custard was creamy and smooth and cooked to perfection and utterly luscious. V (the significant other) and I grabbed a fork and ate it right out of the platter! Dale (he who woofs) also got a tiny bit...he loves people food.

Caramel Custard
2.5 cups milk
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 slice bread
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Caramelize the sugar in the pan in which you want to make the custard. Alternatively, caramelize the sugar in another small saucepan and then pour it into the baking dish to coat the bottom.
  2. In a saucepan, scald the milk. Dissolve 2 T sugar in the milk and crumble the bread into it. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. 
  3. Blend the milk with the eggs and vanilla and pour the custard into the pan with the caramel.
  4. Bake in a bain marie for 30-40 minutes till a knife comes clean and the custard is set. 
  5. Chill for a few hours and then invert into a serving platter. It is that simple.
  • If your custard has an eggy smell, increase the amount of vanilla extract.
  • Custard can be made in a pressure cooker, but steam it without the weight! 


  1. Hi Nupur - I didn't realize you had started your own blog! I look forward to reading more of your entries (it is so so late right now - I must go to bed...). Anyway, congratulations! I'm very interested in learning about cooking Indian cuisine. I've bought several cookbooks and have been pouring through them but haven't actually started cooking from them. Soon though!

  2. Hi Cathy,
    Thanks for reading! Indian food is so easy to make...I will be posting lots of recipes and primers so watch the blog! You are my inspiration :)

  3. Nupur, what a great entry. My husband was hopig I'd choose to do a custard. The blend of caramel and custard is such a great choice. I'll have to give your recipe a go!

  4. That does sound excellent, and congratulations on your new(ish) blog! I remember the excitment I felt entering my first event (also a SHF - the apple edition), knowing that I'd suddenly receive more visitors than I'd had before then.

  5. Cutting your flan into bars and displaying them on a long plate makes it look so good, far above the ordinary. Great work.

  6. I have never eaten caramel custard in India. How long do I steam it? I have the indispensable Indian pressure cooker that I can use.

  7. Hi Nupur, I know this post is 2 yrs old but still I want to leave a comment.

    I just love Caramel custard and was looking for a recipe to make it...and I found yours!!!
    I tried exactly the way you have given and it turned out absolutely fantastic...soo soo yum!!! Thank you very much!!
    The only thing different was it took close to 1 hr to bake it as opposed to your 30 mins...may be something to do with the Oven ..I dont know

    But again, thank U for the wonderful custard!

  8. Hi Nupur, thanks for the recipe. I was wondering if I could substitute the eggs with something else? Agar agar/cornstarch/arrowroot?

  9. Hi Nupur,

    I'm something of a cooking newbie (so do pardon the rather basic question)- I'm planning to make caramel custard for a party using your recipe- only I need to double it, do I also use two slices of bread? Or is one slice enough?

    I realize this is an old post, but hope you will reply!



  10. Achyuta, this particular recipe relies heavily on eggs. However, if you do a google search for "eggless flan" or "eggless caramel custard" you might come up with something good that does not call for eggs.

    Minal with old posts, it is lot more convenient for me if you e-mail me instead of asking questions via comments.
    Whether you use one or two slices of bread for the double recipe depends on the texture you desire. The bread gives the custard more "body". Be warned that cooking time will change once the recipe is doubled. And that caramel custard can be tricky for cooking newbies :)

  11. Thanks for answering my question, Nupur. I will let you know how the custard turns out!

  12. hi nupur!!!i prepared this caramel custard for zlamushkas T and T....i had prepared it ones long time back too :)..we really loved it..Thank u so much..i am posting it today on my blog...

  13. Hey Nupur, can i use a pressure cooker instead of the oven, cos i dont have one...:(
    Please let me know about it ...:)

  14. Of course u can use a pressure cooker
    make the caramel and the custard mixture in a deep bowl which would easily fit into your pressure cooker with space on its sides(should not be intact).
    pour a little water into the cooker and place your custard dish into the cooker - don't forget to cover the dish with foil paper .
    then close the cooker lid but DO NOT put the Whistle weight - this should be cooked without the weight so be sure to keep that open so that steam escapes. cook on low flame for 1/2 hour .
    let it cool - then refrigerate the custard - do not attempt to eat or overturn without refrigeration till completely chilled.

    i made it with condensed milk - it came out very thick creamy and delicious!

  15. Hi Nupur.

    Thank you very much for this recipe. When my brother and I were still in school, our mom would make the custard atleast once a week. A frugal, yet yummy feast.
    This time, I looked up your blog for the measurements and your tips :). I must say that some of the people who devoured it loved it and said it was yumm. So, credit goes to you. Thanks :).

    Our common friend was the one to first point me to your blog when she prepared pav bhaji specially for me one seattle summer day.

    Hope things are going well. :)

  16. Nupur - for some reason the custard pudding had an eggy smell....anyway to avoid that?

    1. I'm replying 3 years late!!! Caramel custard is pretty eggy. Increasing the amount of vanilla extract might help.

  17. I tried making it with you recipe but it crumbles when i demould it. Do you think the number of eggs should be increased

    1. Hmm- I've never had this problem. Did you try running a knife around the edge of the custard before inverting it. That might solve the problem.
      I don't know if increasing eggs will make a difference. Perhaps try a recipe from someone else? There are different proportions and methods out there.

    2. make sure you butter the mould before you pour in the syrup , this not only helps the custard to demould easily but also makes the outer walls of the custard stronger and bouncy.!! Hope this helps

  18. hi nupur
    i loved d recipe it ws so simple n explained soo well
    i tried it n it came out perfect n DELICIOUS
    thnk a lot 4 d yummy recipe
    keep updatin such yummy recipes


Thanks for leaving a comment- I try to respond to every single one.