What is Custard Powder?
Custard powder is a powder made from cornflour and usually mixed with salt, annato coloring, and a variety of flavorings. Most custard powders are mixed with vanilla for the standard type of flavoring. And in terms of color, yellow is the common choice to give the impression that there are plenty of eggs in the mixture. Mixed with milk, custard powder will become a paste. The resulting paste will then be added back to hot milk until the paste is completely dissolved. The resulting mixture is now the custard sauce, which is an alternative to the common and traditional custard made from eggs. The custard sauce made from custard powder and milk can be used as topping for desserts, cakes, and puddings just like the traditional egg-based custard mix.
Custard powder became famous through the brand “Bird’s Custard Powder”. It was first made in 1837 by a man named Alfred Bird who lived in England. It was recorded that Alfred Bird’s wife had allergic reactions when eating eggs, and so he had to find an alternative. Eggs were the key ingredient to make the custard sauce thick, and so Bird tried cornflour instead. Cornflour, or cornstarch in the US, proved to be a great alternative and thickening agent for custard. By 1844, it was said that this Bird’s brand of custard powder spread all across England, which later became a tradition for English families.
But aside from cakes and puddings, some also use custard powder to make cookies. Others use it as filling, sometimes adding some fruits in the mix. The good thing about custard powder is that one can adjust its texture and thickness through the quantity of milk added into the mixture. So if one wants a thicker and creamier mixture, he/she just need to put more custard powder. If the opposite is desired, like a saucy and thin custard mixture, more milk is required. The custard powder and mix ratio all depends on what is desired. Other ingredients are optionally added for additional taste and coloring.