When I was planning all the yummy food we’d eat over Christmas last year, I had a sudden urge for trifle. This used to be my favourite dessert as a child. I suddenly realised I hadn’t had it for a very long time, definitely not since going plant-based. So I decided it was time for a trifle treat.
Custard is a key part of trifle – or at least I think it is! What started as a quest for trifle actually turned into a custard crusade 😉
If you live near well supplied supermarkets, you can usually get ready made dairy-free custard. Alpro seems to have the market for this. It’s pretty tasty but it’s only pourable, and for trifle I wanted it to set hard.
Custard powder was the next option. However, all the instant mixes contain milk in various guises (three different milk derivatives in one brand!) as well as palm or coconut oil. Original custard powder is not supposed to contain any milk, but I just didn’t trust it – cross contamination is becoming a big issue for me. I did manage to find a vegan custard powder in the local independent whole-food shop. It made a good custard that set well for trifle, but I was rather underwhelmed with the flavour.
So the only other option was to make my own. And as it turns out, it’s super easy! And tasty – if you choose the right dairy-free milk. Or at least the right flavour of dairy-free milk.
Vanilla is the main flavouring in custard. I started off by infusing both soya and oat milk with a vanilla pod. It produced a lovely flavour but it’s an expensive option as vanilla is so difficult to get hold of. Most vanilla essence are chemical formulations and have never been near a vanilla pod; they just don’t give the deep vanilla flavour I love in a custard.
Then it clicked – I realised that vanilla soya milk tastes rather like custard! Mix it with some cornflour, a pinch of ground turmeric for colour and a dash of maple syrup for a little extra sweetness and voila – custard! It even forms a skin on top so you know it’s the real thing 😉
And by making your own, you can get the consistency you want by varying the amount of cornflour you use, ranging from pouring to completely set. Plus if you are gluten free or avoiding saturated fats for health reasons you can be assured this custard won’t cause you other problems.
As for the trifle – I won’t call my first attempt a triumph! But it still tasted delicious. The recipe needs tweaking before I share it on the blog, that’s for sure 😉
The recipe below makes two good portions of pouring custard. Check out the notes below the recipe for a thick or set version.
If you’re a custard fan and have been struggling to find a product that hits the spot, do give this simple and easy recipe a go. It’s much less effort than you think it might be, and the results are custardly good!
Homemade vegan custard
- small bowl
- small pan
- small balloon whisk
- 250 ml vanilla soya milk or dairy-free milk of choice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1-2 tsp vanilla essence if not using vanilla flavoured 'milk'
- pinch ground turmeric
- 1 - 2.5 tbsp cornflour or tapioca flour
- Place the cornflour in a small bowl. Add a little of the soya milk and mix to a paste.
- Pour the remainder of the milk into a small pan. Add the maple syrup, vanilla essence (if needed) and ground turmeric. Turn on the heat and warm through.
- When the soya milk is beginning the steam, add the cornflour paste and stir well with a small balloon whisk.
- Bring the mix to a slow simmer. Keep mixing with the whisk. The custard will start to thicken. Don't let it boil.
- Turn the heat down and simmer for another few minutes, stirring all the time.
- Turn off the heat. Serve piping hot immediately or leave to cool in the pan.