Crème Anglaise Recipe

Crème anglaise is a standard that every aspiring pastry maker needs to know how to prepare. Essentially it’s just a custard (of the “stirred” variety), that’s so thin that it can be used as a sauce. It’s most common application, however, is as an ice cream base. To make it all you need is:

seeds from half a vanilla bean
2 cups whole milk (for a richer result use half milk and half cream)
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Meanwhile, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and whisk them in, along with the sugar. Have the yolks ready in a medium bowl. When the milk mixture starts to simmer, pour about half a cup of it into the yolks and whisk it in. Add about another cup of the milk mixture, whisk, then pour the whole shootin’ match back into the saucepan. Return the pan to low heat and gently bring the mixture up to 183 degrees, whisking steadily. Immediately strain the custard into a bowl. Allow it to cool. Store covered, with plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard so a skin won’t form. Chill at least four hours before using.

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8 Responses to Crème Anglaise Recipe

  1. Steven says:

    I think I still have vacuum sealed vanilla beans in a cupboard somewhere, but in the event that I don’t…

    What’s an adequate amount of vanilla extract to substitute?

    • joepastry says:

      One teaspoon will suffice! And in fact extract is normally how a preparation like floating islands is made, since vanilla bean is expensive stuff for a “simple” dessert. It just tastes so darn good in custards…

  2. Henry Chow says:

    I also love to make a cocoa nibs-infused creme angaise with eggwhites. Unlike the yolks the whites don’t take away the earthy flavour of cocoa nibs!!

  3. KosherCorvid says:

    Okay, you may not approve, but my go-to method of preventing skin on custards is to brush a stick of butter over the surface while it’s still hot so I get a thin layer of butter over the custard. Me and cling wrap don’t get along so well, so I avoid it when I can.

  4. Apprentice pastry chef in MD says:

    1) As an aspiring pastry chef, I’ve had to make creme anglaise many times at the bakery at which I am working, and I’ve botched it a number of times by overcooking it: thermometers are poo-poo’ed as part of the training is to learn to use your senses more. For me, it has taken some practice! If the mixture gets too hot, the eggs curdle and the whole thing breaks: this has happened to me a lot. Yes, it can be salvaged with the help of an immersion blender, but I’ve found the taste to be a bit off. Reading this post made me think it might be helpful to occasionally include photos of what you don’t want to happen: like, what does it look like if you overcook the creme anglaise and it breaks, or what exactly do over-beaten egg-whites look like (another mistake I’ve made!). Then again, I suppose I could always start my own blog! ;)

    2) Love the new site & format! I, too, missed out on 3 months worth of material because I didn’t realize I had to re-subscribe to the RSS feed, but it was great to catch up – the melon pan post was inspired and one of my fondest eating memories of visiting Japan. I’ve always thought it would do well here in the States.

    My only comment to your new format would be to make the font size just a bit smaller (I realize I can also do that on my end), otherwise, it’s nice to see v. 2.0!

    • joepastry says:

      Oh heck, I don’t make mistakes. Ehem. Actually, I’ve been hesitant to show mistakes. I’ve felt like if I showed them I’d need an entire other blog to hold them all. Maybe two. But that’s good advice. I’ll make a point to include more of my flubs. I’m also glad you (mostly) like the new site! Cheers, – Joe

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