As you might guess, our family has been sorely in need of comfort food recently. We’ve needed dishes that are easy and quick to make—dishes that can nourish us both in body and spirit. When I was a little girl growing up in Ohio, my mother had just the thing. Whether you had a strep throat (I had lots), a busted knee (my brother), or what we used to call “the mulligrumps,” it wouldn’t be long before Mom was sitting on your bed with a cup of baked custard. She didn’t just make it when we were sick, but it always tasted especially good then. It slips right down, even when you think you aren’t hungry. And with the milk and eggs, it’s an excellent way of getting some nutritious food into you. Did I mention that it’s also delicious? I think Sally’s going to love it!
The recipe couldn’t be simpler or easier to make. It’s the one my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all made when they were raising their families. OK, confession: my great-grandmother, Gransy, didn’t actually make it; her maid did. But I'm told that Gransy loved eating it. I used to make it too, when Elspeth and Anna were younger, but not as often as I should have. That’s going to change—the batch you see here has totally revived my love of this childhood favorite.
MAW-MAW’S BAKED CUSTARD
Here it is—a recipe that with little Sally now links six generations of mothers and daughters. In our family, there’s comfort in that alone.
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
nutmeg to sprinkle on top
Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and stir well until milk begins to scald but not boil. When milk is steaming, turn off heat and set aside.
Beat eggs in a large bowl. Gradually pour the hot milk into the beaten eggs, whisking as you go. Stir in the vanilla.
Place custard cups in a larger pan filled with half an inch of water. Pour the milk and egg mixture into the custard cups. Sprinkle each cup with a dash of nutmeg (my mom says it doesn't matter if you do this before or after baking. "Just don't put too much on," she says).
Bake at 345 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned.