Barbie’s Baked Custard

It’s been a busy few weeks around here, and halfway through planning the big batch of freezer meals that my husband and I made over the weekend, I realized that I hadn’t started a post yet. I was also low on pretty much everything other than basic pantry staples. Thankfully when I cracked open Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook to look for something to make, there it was: Baked Custard. A relatively quick prep dish that would work with the few ingredients I had on hand. Read on for the recipe…

Baked Custard


      • 3 cups milk
      • 3 eggs
      • 3 tablespoons sugar
      • 1/8 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add milk to a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until it’s just short of boiling, about 180 degrees. Remove milk from heat and let it cool until reaches less than 110 degrees. (If you don’t have an instant read thermometer for this, just keep a close eye on the milk until bubbles start to form at the outer edges of the pot and then cool it, still stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so.)

While the milk is cooling, break eggs into a large bowl and beat them until they’re just mixed. Add sugar and salt to the eggs and stir to combine.

Once the milk has cooled, add it gradually, in small amounts, to the egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla. Arrange custard cups or ramekins in a high-sided baking dish and ladle the mixture into them. Then pour at least an inch of hot tap water into the bottom of your baking dish. Bake until your custards are firm enough that you can poke the center with a knife and it comes out clean. The exact time will depend on the size and shape of your ramekins, but it should take around 35-45 minutes.

Let the custards cool and then chill them in the refrigerator. To serve, run a knife around the outside of your cups to loosen the sides of the custard, then turn each cup upside down on a plate and shake lightly until the custard slides out. Serves 5-6.

-Adapted from Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook

This custard was fairly easy to make, though it did take longer than expected. Barbie’s original recipe just says to scald the milk without mentioning that slowly heating the milk, stirring it the whole time, and letting it cool enough to move on to the next step would be so time consuming.

These custards set up firmly enough to hold their shape after unmolding, and they had the soft, creamy texture I expected to see. They didn’t break, or curdle, or wind up with any of the other stereotypical custardy issues I’d heard about.

They also didn’t have any flavor though. There’s the barest hint of vanilla, but that’s mild enough to miss if you aren’t specifically asking yourself what, if anything, this custard might taste like. They also aren’t very sweet. I’d probably have appreciated that part if they weren’t utterly bland on every other level.

Extra Tips:

  • The exact amount of servings and cook time will depend on the custard cups or ramekins that you use. Smaller ramekins should give you at least 6 servings, while large ones may only make 4. Using my time-tested method of “whatever is clean and in the cabinet right now,” I had just the right amount of mix to fill two standard custard cups, one small ramekin, and two larger ramekins. (I kept an eye on them all and snatched the small ramekin out of the oven before the larger ones.)
  • If you haven’t invested in an instant read thermometer yet, I can’t recommend those enough. We’ve used one of these at least 5 times a week for the past decade and it’s held up like a champ (but there are plenty of more budget friendly options).
  • Plan for some kind of topping, like nuts, berries, caramel, or chocolate, to add flavor. Anything you feel like using won’t conflict with the custard’s relatively nonexistent taste.

Final Thoughts:

After a quick refresher on scalding milk, Barbie’s instructions got me to the point of making a baked custard that set up properly. That’s about all I can say for the recipe though. An optimist might look at these as a blank canvas for experimenting with dessert toppings, but… eh. I don’t see much point in eating a bland dessert as a vehicle for other flavors.

Barbie’s baked custard is summed up best by my husband’s take: “This isn’t bad… it doesn’t taste good. But it’s not bad.”

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