This method refers to the stirring motion that is necessary to cook this custard over a direct heat source (flame or induction). This type of custard is fully finished in a pot on the stove top. The stirring is done with either a wooden spoon (traditionally) or a whisk. A whisk covers more area than a spoon does and thus distributes heat more efficiently and evenly.
THE STIRRED CUSTARD OR ANGLAISE METHOD IS AS FOLLOWS:
- Prepare an ice water bath. In a sauce pot, combine all of the milk (or the milk and heavy cream mixture) with half the sugar and any flavorings (vanilla, cinnamon, and so forth).
- Combine the egg yolks and the other half of the sugar in a bowl. The bowl should be large enough to hold all of the components of the recipe.
- Bring the milk (or milk with heavy cream) to a boil. Turn off the heat, and slowly pour all of this liquid into the bowl with the egg yolks and sugar while whisking.
- Return this mixture to the sauce pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Stir until the base has reached a maximum temperature of 85°C/185°F. Maintain this temperature long enough to thicken the custard until it reaches what is known as the nappé stage (anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes; it depends on the size of the batch you are making). Nappé means “coated” and what it has to coat is the back of a spoon. You are supposed to be able to run a finger through the sauce and it will leave a trace. In other words, if it were not quite yet ready to come off the stove, your finger would not be able to leave a trail, the liquid on the spoon being so loose that it would cover any trace of a trail. Evaluate the custard visually–does the custard look like it has thickened from its original state? Has it reached 85°C/185°F? Temperature and consistency are your best indicators of doneness.
- Once you have reached the correct thickness/temperature, pass the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and cool it quickly over the ice bath.
- Once the custard has cooled, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 4 days.