The Yellow Stuff

Even though I am a middle-class arriviste, in certain areas my working-class roots show through. For instance, even though I know there is a much better thing that you can make yourself called Crème Anglaise, I still like Birds’ Instant Custard because it does skin-over much better than the French-named desert sauce.

Recipe for Le Anglaise

1 pint full-fat milk
4 egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, slit open lengthways
2 or 3 oz caster sugar

1. Place the milk in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add the seeds and the pod to the milk. Cook for five minutes, simmering to just short of boiling point.

2. Meanwhile, place the yolks in a bowl. Add in the caster sugar and whisk lightly to combine.

3. Place the yolk sugar mixture over a pan of simmering water for a few minutes, whisking constantly.

4. Strain the hot milk in a steady steam over the yolk mixture, whisking as you do. Take it back to the heat and simmer gently until it thickens up. If it wants to curdle a bit, which it can do, re-engage the whisk to homogenise it.

Alternatively, follow the instruction on the back of this tin

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16 Responses to The Yellow Stuff

  1. makemeadiva says:

    I am pretty sure my middle-class Nan served the Bird’s variety, my middle-class arriviste Grandad not holding with any foreign muck.

    My mother certainly did.

    Skin 😦

  2. markelt says:

    You’re right about custard, but you need to make proper rice pudding for a proper skin. The stuff out of a tin isn’t as good.

  3. Stephen Foster says:

    The stuff out of a tin was all I knew when I was little.

    I wonder how diva feels about rice-pudding skin.

  4. calvininjax says:

    Growing up in a household that served both homemade rice pudding, complete with aforementioned skin, and Bird’s custard, I loathed both and quickly refused to eat either of them.

    Sago pudding and semolina also featured on the menu. The former was detested and later refused, the latter was barely palatable with a copious amount of raspberry jam. It too was eventually rejected.

    I am not sure what that makes me in the arriviste/hero classification.

  5. makemeadiva says:

    What Calvin said. I too am a milk pudding refusenik. It cost me at least one long playtime a week in infant school, but as Tom Petty sang:

    “You could stand me up at the gates of hell
    But I won’t back down”

  6. Stephen Foster says:

    * I am not sure what that makes me in the arriviste/hero classification. *


  7. Stephen Foster says:

    : ) You have to admire the principled stance.

  8. mum says:

    Top and bottom of container were tin but the centre part which contained the custard powder were made of card !!
    Ps on the coleslaw front a little tartar sause as well ! ( by the way ask Jack about John,s egg mayonaise ) lol x

  9. Stephen Foster says:

    I thought of that while I was writing it. But are we saying that that’s not technically speaking a tin then?

  10. markelt says:

    They’re not made of tin either.

  11. calvininjax says:


    Good answer, Stephen. I prefer discerning. 😉

    As I recall, the Bird’s Custard tins of the 1950s and 1960s were tins in their entirety.

    I could be wrong. Perhaps OS/Bilbo can either confirm or refute it.

    In America, of course, such tins would be regarded as antiques.

    I am glad I held on to my used Bic biro collection. It is probably worth a small fortune over here, except that no-one understands what a biro is. 😉

  12. Bilbo says:

    Birds custard tins in the 50’s were like treacle tins. No cardboard.

    BTW, Calvin, I wonder just what it was with semolina and sago? They used to serve it up as pudding with skool dinners and hardly anybody ate it. Didn’t that tell them anything? My favourite pudding was Bakewell tart and custard [without the skin].

    I love the skin on rice pudding. It was always the sweetest bit.

    makemeadiva, you sound like the original rebel with a cause. 😉


  13. calvininjax says:

    Thanks for the confirmation, BOS. Just as I thought.

    It has always intrigued me as to who first came up with semolina and sago pudding and acutally thought they were a good idea.

    Frank Semolina and Harold Sago perchance?

  14. Stephen Foster says:

    We used to have some fairly graphic rhymes around these deserts designed to make girls like diva wretch.

    I cannot repeat them here as they were too repulsive.

  15. makemeadiva says:

    Bakewell tart – now you’re talking!

  16. chiffs says:

    Can I put up a shout for tapioca? Warm frog spawn. Lovely.

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