600ml whole milk
1 vanilla pod
4 large egg yolks
40g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1. Put the milk in a medium, heavy-based saucepan (off the heat). Use a small, sharp knife to split the vanilla pod in half lengthways. Scrape the tip of the knife along the inside of the pod to remove the seeds and add these to the milk in the pan. Repeat with both halves of the pod, then add the pod to the pan as well.
2. Put the pan over a medium-high heat and cook for a few mins, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the milk is steaming and just starting to bubble very slightly, but not quite simmering.
3. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a heatproof mixing bowl and whisk until completely smooth. The cornflour will help to stabilise the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.
4. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk, then pour the milk in a slow, steady stream over the egg mixture, whisking continuously until fully combined and smooth.
5. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over a low heat. Stir continuously until it thickens – this can take up to 10 mins. When ready, the custard should be thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. To test of it is the right consistency, run your finger down the back of the spoon – a line should be visible and stay, if too thin, the custard will flow back over the line.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a jug to serve.
Tip – you can strain the custard through a sieve to be sure it is completely smooth if worried about any lumps.
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