Custard is such a versatile sauce or dessert… It’s useful as a first baby food and as a sauce for serving with baked desserts such as sticky toffee pudding. It’s also an important ingredient in a trifle.
A baked custard can even be a complete dessert in itself. So, it’s well worth mastering how to make a smooth, creamy custard to be served either hot or cold.
Why Does Egg Custard Go Watery?
While pre-packaged custards are available, a homemade egg custard is a classic and delivers an authentic creaminess that’s hard to beat. Once you know the tricks, it is also surprisingly simple to make with everyday storecupboard ingredients.
One thing some home cooks struggle with is that their egg custard “splits” or becomes watery. This is especially common when cooking custard desserts in the oven, such as crème brulee.
There are a few reasons for this happening, so if you’ve been wondering why your egg custard turns watery, keep reading because we have the solutions for you.
- You Might Have Overcooked the Custard
One important thing to note about egg custards or eggs, in general, is that they take a remarkably short time to cook. Once cooked, the proteins tighten up and squeeze out liquids that were found in the protein matrix.
This often happens when you are making a custard pot in the oven and are waiting for the center part of the custard to cook. Sometimes the outer part overcooks and splits while the inside is still raw and runny.
Remember that even after you have successfully removed the custard from the oven, the cooking process continues for some time. If you find that your oven-baked custard desserts turn watery, try the following hacks:
- Try reducing the cooking time of the custard. Remove it from the oven while the center is still wobbly.
- Use smaller, individual dishes for baking egg custards rather than one big one. If you must use a single dish, use a shallow, wide one rather than a deep one with a small diameter. This should make sure the custard’s center part gets cooked.
- Always cook custard-based desserts in the oven in a bain-marie. This means that you must stand the dish containing the custard in a larger oven dish half-filled with water. The water should reach halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. This will ensure the even heating of your custard and will prevent it from splitting.
- Cook the custard on a lower temperature setting than you normally do. Rather than cooking it at 180 degrees Centigrade, turn your oven to 170 degrees.
- Try stabilizing the protein matrix with ingredients like starch. Mix a small amount of flour or cornstarch with a little milk or cream and stir it into the custard mix before baking. Please note that this will change the texture of your finished dessert slightly.
- Poor Recipe
If you have made sure that you are following all the above hacks yet your custard is still watery or split, chances are you have a poor recipe on your hands. Ditch it and find another. There may not be enough eggs to thicken the liquid in the custard correctly.
It could also be that you did not follow the recipe precisely. Try our foolproof custard recipe below and let us know how it works for you.
The Bottom Line
Why does egg custard go watery? From following the wrong recipe to overcooking the custard or failing to use a water bath, if you do end up getting a watery custard, don’t give up.
Try again to make yourself the perfect egg custard by being sure to follow the instructions laid out in the article.
Recipe – Delicious Baked Custard:
- 3 extra-large eggs, and 1 extra yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 250 ml cream
- 250 ml full cream milk
- 60 g white sugar
- Powdered cinnamon, for dusting
Instructions – Delicious Baked Custard:
- Set the oven to 170˚C.
- Grease a small (1 liter), shallow ovenproof dish with butter.
- Beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla. Don’t beat it until foamy.
- In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream, milk, and sugar.
- Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t allow it to boil.
- Pour this onto the eggs, stirring until well mixed.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Put the dish into a roasting dish filled halfway with hot water (bain-marie).
- Bake for about half an hour until set but slightly wobbly in the center.
- Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with powdered cinnamon.
This is best served warm. We guarantee that if you follow all the instructions, this custard will not split!