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Amish Baked Custard

Custard is the ultimate old-fashioned comfort food that warms you from the inside out with every silky smooth spoonful. This creamy custard holds a special place in the hearts and homes of Amish families, gracing holiday tables and Sunday dinners for generations. Passed down to me by my grandmother, this custard recipe only calls for a handful of humble ingredients you likely have on hand – milk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla. But when baked low and slow in a water bath, those few staples transform into something truly special.
The milk and eggs create a delicate, lightly-set curd that almost melts on your tongue, while the sugar and vanilla provide a subtle sweetness to perfectly balance the rich dairy. And the nutmeg? Well that earthy, mysterious spice gives it that extra something that keeps you going back to your ramekin for more. I’ve tried custards made with everything from heavy cream to half and half, but to me there’s nothing better than simple whole milk. It produces a texture that’s lusciously creamy while still being light enough not to weigh you down.
I love that custard is equally delightful freshly baked or thoroughly chilled. Straight from the oven, those subtly sweet egg curds provide the ultimate cozy satisfaction. But once cooled completely and chilled, the creamy decadence transforms into a smooth, silky cream perfect for spooning over fresh fruit or cake. However you choose to enjoy it, this Amish custard will win you over with its comforting simplicity. With just a few easy steps and a bit of patience as it bakes, you can see why this versatile dessert has persevered over generations. Try this recipe and taste for yourself why custard never falls out of favor!

What type of milk works best?
Whole milk is traditional and gives the creamiest, richest texture. You can use 2% or 1% milk but the custard won’t be as lush.

Why bake the custards in a water bath?
The water bath surrounds the ramekins to heat them gently and evenly, which prevents cracking and helps the custards bake uniformly from edge to center.

How do I know when they’re done baking?
Test for slight jiggle at the centers. They will continue to set as they cool out of the oven. Overbaking makes them rubbery.

Can I substitute vanilla extract?
Yes. Use 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract rather than vanilla beans for easiest results.
How long will baked custards last refrigerated? They’ll keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Custard does not freeze well.

What are some tasty mix-in ideas?
Try folding in fresh fruit like mashed berries, chopped peaches, or citrus zest once custard is baked and cooled.

What’s the best way to serve Amish custard?
Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg. Serve chilled, with fruit, or alongside cakes and pies for a creamy accompaniment.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Instructions:

  1. Prepare Your Water Bath and Ramekins First, bring a full kettle of water to a boil to use for your bath later on. While waiting for it to boil, prep your vessels. Lightly coat 6 half-cup porcelain or tempered glass ramekins with nonstick spray or softened butter and place all ramekins in a high-sided 9×13 inch baking pan. This pan will hold the hot water bath later for even, gentle baking.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat 4 fresh eggs until combined but still fluid. Gradually whisk in 3 cups of whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously for 2 full minutes until fully incorporated into a thin, smooth liquid with no visible bits of egg remaining.
  3. Distribute the Mixture Between Ramekins Ladle the thin custard base evenly among the 6 prepared ramekins, leaving at least 1/2 inch space at the top. The level of custard will rise slightly during baking. Work swiftly to avoid a skin forming on the surface before baking.
  4. Create the Hot Water Bath Carefully pour the freshly boiled water from your kettle into the baking pan, until the water level reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This bath creates steam to surround the custards with gentle heat so they bake evenly.
  5. Bake at 325°F for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the custards are just barely set but still slightly jiggly when carefully shaken. They will continue to set up after cooling. Allow the ramekins to cool at room temperature in the water bath for 10 minutes before chilling completely in the fridge, about 2 hours.
  6. Unmold and Garnish Once thoroughly chilled, carefully run a slim knife around the edge of each custard to loosen before topping each with a pinch of cinnamon and unmolding onto individual plates or into parfait glasses. Smooth the tops with a spatula and spoon any leftover liquid over the custards before serving delightfully chilled.

Cooking Tips:

  • Be careful when removing ramekins from the hot water to prevent cracking.
  • Test doneness early – custard overbakes quickly. It should still jiggle a bit.
  • Cool custards completely before chilling to prevent condensation.
  • Make it a maple custard by swapping 2 tablespoons sugar for maple syrup.
  • Mix in fresh fruit like mashed berries or chopped peaches for a fruit custard.
  • Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg for an extra punch of flavor.

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