It will come as no surprise to you that generally abhor any type of convenience foods. I do not use cake mixes. I am not one for tinned soups. I prefer to make things the long and complicated way. I prefer to make them as they were originally made. To me, it feels as though they were made with more love, care and passion. Thus, from scratch has to be better. What if I created somethng that is instant, from scratch? Then it is a complete oxymoron.
There are certain things that take me right back to my childhood. Custard is one of them. Custard was an accompaniment to many types of desserts. Custard topped puds and crumbles. It was the glue that held together a trifle. It was mixed with fresh fruit. There were so many applications to use custard powder. It's versatility was amazing. But, as I became aware of good food and even more so, of high quality food, I began to question the thing that was always a comfort. Why would someone not just make custard from scratch? It would have to be a much better product, would it not?
In 1837 Alfred Bird created custard powder not out of convenience, but out of necessity. Bird was a scientist and chemist. His wife happened to be allergic to eggs, yet she loved custard sauce. Bird created an eggless custard powder to satisfy his wife's fondness for the dessert accompaniment.
I will admit, there is nothing like the taste of custard powder. I close my eyes and I am reverted back. I am in another place and time. This time of year, when strawberries and rhubarb are in abundnace at the grocer, it only seems appropriate that a spring crumble and custard sauce are served as afters. Seeing a good deal on rhubarb, I could not resist this past weekend.
My daughter is lactose intollerant. I try to do alternatives when I can. Custard powder is usually made with not only milk powder, but accompanied by milk in liquid form to make the custard sauce. Not only did I create the custard powder from scratch, but I made a dairy alternative version as well. The results were not only pleasing, but they flooded me with nostaglia. Here in the States, the grocer just started carrying a product called a2 Milk®. From their website, I offer the following description:
"Ordinary cows’ milk naturally contains a mix of both A1 and A2 proteins. a2 Milk® comes from cows that naturally produce only the A2 protein and no A1. Published research suggests that a2 Milk® may help some people avoid digestive discomfort.
At The a2 Milk Company, we’re on a mission to bring you delicious, nutritious and pure a2 Milk®. We take great care to bring you milk naturally free from the A1 protein from cow to cup. Our cows have not been treated with growth hormones, rBST or antibiotics. All of our family farms are independently certified by the Validus Group to ensure we meet strict animal welfare guidelines." - https://www.a2milk.com
Overall this was a great success! I was able to satisfy a culinary craving without feeling as though I had sold out to a second rate convenience short cut. The quality of this homemade instant custard powder is just as good, if not beter than the shoppe bought version. I was, much like Alfred Bird himself able to create something, for my daughter to enjoy without having her feel as though it was a lesser substitute. Maybe in the end, instant is not so bad, especially if it is instant from scratch.