This is a very quick ‘cheat’ recipe for a custard “doughnut” (or French Toast extraordinaire!) I came up with as I had made too much very thick crema pasticcera (an egg custard used in Italian desserts, so generally much thicker than traditional English custard that is used for pouring) for another meal, which I hope to post about soon!
I had made the crema pasticcera very thick and left it to set in the fridge overnight, so you could ‘cut’ into it with a spoon or spreading knife, which makes it ideal for this particular recipe, as there is no risk of it oozing out as you cook your “doughnut”.
Tip: As an extra treat, I had actually mixed a load of white chocolate drops into the crema pasticcera while it was still hot, so it became a delicious, rich, chocolatey custard! As an alternative, this cheat “doughnut” also works very well with Nutella filling 🙂
This simple and quick cheat recipe takes about 5 minutes to make (once you have the custard – I’ll post a recipe soon, but any egg custard, made extra thick and left to set in the fridge overnight should work).
Tip: Use very fresh sliced white bread with a compact crumb. For a fluffier “doughnut”, use thick or extra thick slices.
Video recipe from my Instagram Reels (scroll down for written recipe):
Ingredients (for one “doughnut”):
2 slices white bread
1 medium egg
2-3 heaped teaspoons of thick set custard
a generous knob of butter for frying
caster sugar in a bowl to dust the “doughnut” once cooked
Cut the two slices of bread into two identical circles with a large cookie cutter (don’t throw away the off-cuts, dip them into the egg after you have finished making the “doughnut”, fry them in the butter and dust them in caster sugar – they will make delicious French Toast bites!).
Spread a generous amount of the crema pasticcera / thick set custard into the centre of one of the slices, cover with the second slice and squeeze the edges together with your fingers.
Dip into a lightly beaten egg and place into a non-stick pan with a generous knob of lightly sizzling butter (medium heat). Cook both sides until the egg has lightly browned, drain on a piece of kitchen paper and immediately dip into a a bowl of caster sugar, making sure both sides and all edges are coated in sugar.
Crostata di sbriciolata alla crema pasticcera | Custard-filled crumble pie
This is an Italian recipe by Luisa Orizio (Facebook, Instagram), posted on the Giallo Zafferano Blog. I made this today as I had friends coming over and fancied something quick and easy to make for dessert that I could do with ingredients I already had in the house.
It was an absolute hit – nearly the whole lot went (and that was after we’d eaten pizza!), and I was asked to translate the recipe so they could replicate it at home!
Sbriciolata is a effectively a crumble, though the way this was done, the crumble was made with the same dough as the base, then crumbled over the top by hand, rather than an English crumble-making method. A crostata is a pie / tart. Crema pasticcera is a thick egg custard (flour is used to make it thicker than English custard) and is used as a filling in Italian pastries and cakes, and as a dessert in its own right. So, this is a pie / tart, filled with delicious thick custard and topped with a crispy crumble topping. It is simple to make and incredibly delicious! Yum 🙂
Tip: According to the original recipe post, this pie can be kept in the fridge for two days (if it lasts that long!) and can be frozen.
Ingredients (for a 22cm pie tin)
For the pastry:
300g plain white flour
150g butter, left to soften at room temperature (I like to use salted butter as I feel it gives the pastry more depth of flavour, but you can use unsalted, if you prefer)
90g caster sugar
1 yolk from a large egg
1tsp baking powder
For the crema pasticcera (thick custard):
500ml milk (the original recipe calls for 300ml milk and 200ml single cream, but advises you can use just milk and cook it for longer to allow it to thicken…I actually added a little bit of cornflour to the plain flour provided for in the recipe – see below)
3 yolks from large eggs
40g plain white flour
10g cornflour (my addition – see above)
1/2tsp vanilla extract (this was my addition to the recipe; alternatively, you can infuse the milk with pieces of lemon or organge zest, to have a traditional italian crema pasticcera flavour)
Start by making the pastry:
In a bowl, combine the softened butter and sugar, using a spoon. You don’t need to beat it for any length of time, just mix it well to create a sugary/buttery paste.
Add the egg yolk and mix until combined.
Add the flour and baking powder a little at a time, first mixing with a spoon, then as it gets thicker and drier, using your hands, until you have a smooth dough.
Form a dough ball, wrap it in clingfilm and rest it in the fridge while you prepare the crema pasticcera (custard).
Now prepare the custard:
Put the milk and vanilla essence in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.
While the milk is heating, beat (not whisk) together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour and cornflour and mix well until you have a smooth paste, ensuring there are no lumps.
Once the milk is hot (not boiling), place the thick egg, sugar, flour and cornflour paste into the centre of the bowl containing the hot milk and leave it to cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until you see some bubbles forming – a bit like little erupting volcanoes.
Tip: I must admit, this step was a bit of a leap of faith for me! I expected to find a congealed, burnt, solid lump at the bottom of the pan! Instead, I found that the milk started visibly thickening before the little volcanoes appeared, and although it took about 3-4 minutes rather than the 2 minutes in the original recipe, sure enough the little volcanoes did start appearing!
As soon as you see the little volcanic eruptions appearing, begin stirring rapidly with a hand whisk and keep stirring for a few minutes, until the custard is thick. Take the pan off the heat and let the custard cool a little while you start preparing the pie base.
Tip: I kept stirring the custard with the whisk from time to time, to help it cool faster and prevent a skin forming.
Time to assemble the pie:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan).
Place 2/3rds of the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper (this will prevent it from sticking to the worktop / surface, and make it easier to lift the pastry into the pie tin) and roll it out, using a rolling pin, until it is large enough to cover the base and sides of the tin.
Place the rolled out pastry into your pie tin (one with a removable bottom is preferable) and gently prick the base with a fork all over. If bits of pastry fall off, you can simply press them into the sides / base where they are needed, to plug any gaps.
Pour in the slightly cooled custard and level it with a spatula.
Roughly crumble the remaining pastry over the top of the custard.
Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Let the pie completely cool (ideally to fridge temperature) before cutting it.
Serve and enjoy!
Custard-filled crumble pie | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!
I’ve said this before (see my previous Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe), but it needs to be said again… I may be pedantic, but if you want to cook pasta with cream, mushrooms, whatever… go ahead, it’s your food, but please don’t call it carbonara!
The origins of carbonara are unclear, with stories abounding, but one thing is certain: It is a Roman dish, and as one half of my family is from Rome and I have spent much time there (I also lived in Rome for a short time as a toddler and then again when I was around 9 years old), I have had plenty of opportunities to eat authentic carbonara over the years. The key is in the simplicity – there may be some debate, even amongst Romans, about whether you should use the whole egg or just the yolk, or a higher ratio of yolks to whole eggs, and whether or not it contains onions. But one thing that is never disputed is this: There is never any cream in carbonara, nor does it contain vegetables of any kind!
Below is my recipe, based on the carbonara I have eaten in many Roman restaurants. It contains just 4 ingredients: Eggs, pecorino cheese, black pepper, guanciale (it can be difficult to get hold of in the UK – I order it online – so you CAN substitute pancetta, but for the best – and most authentic – taste, try to get hold of guanciale). And as long as you follow the steps, it is incredibly quick and simple to make.
Ingredients for 4 people:
6 large egg yolks (to avoid waste, why not make meringue with the left-over whites?)
100-120g finely-grated pecorino cheese (enough to make a very thick paste with the egg yolks – the exact amount will depend on the size of the yolks)
plenty of freshly-ground black pepper (to taste, but you do want to see a ‘speckled’ effect, ideally)
200-250g guanciale, cut into approx. 1cm-wide, thin strips, or into chunkier matchstick-style sticks (if you really can’t get hold of any, substitute with diced pancetta – I get my guanciale online here)
Tagliatelle for 4 people (approx. 600g)
Place a large pan / stockpot approx. 3/4 full of water onto the hob and turn the heat on high.
While the pasta water comes to the boil, heat the guanciale on a low heat until the fat goes transparent and a little bit crispy (watch it carefully – it can very quickly go from perfect to burnt!). Turn the heat off as soon as the guanciale is ready (you’ll need to turn it back on again just before you add the cooked pasta to the pan).
While the guanciale is cooking, separate the eggs and place the egg yolks in a large serving bowl. Add the finely-grated pecorino cheese (the finer, the better, as this will help make the sauce lovely and creamy) and freshly-ground black pepper to the egg yolks and stir in with a fork. Aim for a very thick consistency.
Once the water comes to the boil, add a handful of coarse sea salt. Add the tagliatelle when the water is boiling vigorously and cook for the indicated time on the pack, but taste it a minute or so before the time’s up, to ensure you don’t over-cook it. It needs to retain a little bit of ‘bite’ – the ‘al dente‘ consistency. If you are using home-made egg tagliatelle, like I did, these will cook very quickly in no more than 2-3 minutes (depending on long before cooking you made them, i.e. how dry they are).
Just before the tagliatelle finish cooking, when the water is full of starch from the pasta, take a spoonful of water at a time, add it to the egg, pecorino and black pepper mixture and stir it in quickly so the mixture turns creamy. Work quickly, so the pasta doesn’t over-cook while you do this step, but just add a little water at a time, until you have the desired consistency, as you don’t want to risk making it too runny or it getting clumpy from the boiling water melting the cheese and making it stringy, or scrambling the egg!
Once the tagliatelle are cooked, lift them out of the water with tongs or a slotted spaghetti spoon and drop them straight into the sauté pan with the guanciale – don’t worry if some of the water comes with the pasta, this will help make the delicious creamy sauce. Stir the pasta through the guanciale and its melted fat (and any cooking water that came with the pasta) for about half a minute, to make sure it’s well coated.
Pour the pasta and guanciale into the big serving bowl containing the egg yolks, pecorino cheese and black pepper, quickly mixing them with a serving spoon and fork to ensure the pasta is evenly coated in the creamy mixture and no ‘clumps’ form.
Serve and enjoy immediately!
Tagliatelle alla Carbonara – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!