DIY custard - to make or to buy?

Is it always worth making your favourites from scratch? Our DIY series puts shop-bought and homemade to the test - this time, custard...

Pan of custard

If given the option, I'd always opt to cover my pudding in warm custard rather than cold cream. In fact, I'd happily eat custard straight from the fridge as a dessert in its own right. So why then have I never made my own from scratch? Convenience, cost, taste? As part of our DIY series I decided to put shop-bought and homemade to the test to see what I'd been missing...

The cost

Cost of shop-bought custard:
Supermarket own brand - £1.50 (serves 4)

Cost of ingredients for homemade custard:
Ingredients for the homemade - £5 (serves 8)

The custard recipe I used:
Homemade custard

''Buying all the ingredients for the homemade custard was considerably more expensive than the cost of the supermarket own brand. However, it made double the quantity and there were plenty of leftover ingredients.''


Jam roll-poly pudding in dish with spoon
''With a bit of clever planning, the leftover ingredients can be put to use in an accompanying pudding, and consequently I made roly-poly bread & butter pud to serve with our double helpings of custard.''

Other recipes to use up your leftovers:
Panettone pudding
Sticky sultana pudding
Marmalade & whisky bread & butter pudding

The making

''Previously, my biggest reservation about making custard was the potential for skin forming as it thickens. Not the end of the world but pretty off-putting. The steps on this recipe are great as it tells you exactly when your custard is at pouring point. The whole process was so simple, and it seemed to be ready much sooner than the suggested 25 minutes. We had loads left over and popped it in the freezer to be used at a later date.''


''Still struggling to get the right consistency? Watch our how to make custard video guide for more help.''

The taste

Custard tarts
''The vanilla flavour in the homemade custard really came to the fore, and when tasted alongside the shop bought the difference in flavour and depth was really noticeable. The texture of the homemade was also superior, thick and silky smooth opposed to the shop-bought's slightly artificial quality.

The only complaint about the homemade was that it was possibly a little sweet. Not a problem if you have an insatiable sweet tooth, but I would consider experimenting with less caster sugar next time to get a balance to appeal to everyone.''

The verdict

''While making your own might not save you money, shop-bought is no match for the indulgent taste and full flavour of the recipe we used. It also made twice as much as the shop-bought provided, meaning we have some in the freezer for the next pudding.

Before, I wouldn't have thought twice about buying ready-made custard but the stark difference in taste (and examination of the added colours and flavourings in the shop-bought) has converted our household. My only hesitation is the high calorie and fat content in this recipe. Fine as a treat, but I'll be exploring lower-fat options so we can enjoy this more often.''

Fancy having a go at making your own? Try the custard recipe I used.

What are your top tips for making custard? Do you prefer making your own or buying it in?

Comments, questions and tips

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4th Feb, 2015
I hate shop bought custard, but then I am no custard fan. When it is a necessary then I always make my own. Would never consider buying from a carton or a tin. Reading what goes into it makes me even less fond of custard.
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