Boiled Custard

Boiled Custard must never be allowed to boil. This is the custard sauce—crème anglaise—that accompanies cake slices and fresh fruit. Chilled in cups, it is offered as “morning custard.” One of the first kitchen chores I was assigned as a child was stirring the custard in the double boiler. The sauce is served warm or chilled. If chilled, be sure to stir it occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. The richness of the sauce can be altered by varying the number of egg yolks.


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups milk, scalded
  • 1 teaspoon rum, amontillado sherry, or bourbon; ½ teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest; or ¼ teaspoon vanilla seeds (scraped from a vanilla bean) (optional)


In a very heavy saucepan, in the top of a double boiler, or in a stainless- steel mixing bowl that will fit snugly over a pot, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together until they are smooth and form a ribbon as they fall from the spoon or whisk. Gradually add the scalded milk, stirring constantly. Place the heavy pot over very low heat or place the double boiler insert or mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. If desired, add the flavoring of your choice. If there are any lumps in the custard, pass it through a fine sieve.