Ingredient of the Week: Custard

By Bettina Campolucci Bordi

8 months ago

Bettina shares her cooking tips for the ultimate childhood dessert

Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, gives us the lowdown on a particular fruit, vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. Up this week? Custard.

Ingredient of the Week: Custard

For as long as I can remember, custard has always held a special place in my heart. Growing up in Tanzania, it was a comforting staple in our household, a silky smooth concoction that my mother would prepare lovingly. The sweet, creamy texture and delicate vanilla aroma would fill the air, wrapping me in a blanket of warmth and love. It’s a memory I carry with me, and to this day, custard remains a comfort food that transports me back to my childhood.


Custard has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the Middle Ages. It was originally used as a filling for pies or tarts, hence the name ‘custard,’ which is derived from ‘crustade.’ Over time, it has evolved into a dessert in its own right, enjoyed in various forms all over the world. Whether baked into a flan, poured over a pudding, or enjoyed on its own, custard is beloved by many.

The beauty of custard lies in its simplicity. At its core, it’s made with just a few basic ingredients: milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla. However, the preparation is where the magic happens. It’s all about the gentle heating and constant stirring, transforming these humble ingredients into a luxurious, velvety mixture.

Pudding with custard being poured over


Growing up in Tanzania, custard was a treat that I looked forward to. My mother, an excellent cook, would prepare it with a touch of love that made it extra special. I remember watching her in the kitchen, carefully whisking the mixture over the stove, the vanilla scent wafting through the air. We would enjoy it together as a family, a moment of togetherness that I cherish.

What I love about custard is its versatility. It can be enjoyed in so many ways. The traditional way, served in a bowl, either warm or chilled, is a classic. Drizzled over your favorite dessert, like apple pie or sticky toffee pudding, it becomes a luxurious pour-over. Prepared in the oven until set, sometimes with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, it transforms into a baked delight. As a component in desserts like trifle or tiramisu, it becomes a layered wonder. And turned into ice cream, it is a refreshing treat on a hot day. Here is a quick and easy recipe that is delicious and feels like a hug to me.

Custard tart

Recipe: Custard, Apples and Biscuits

Makes 4 servings


For the cinnamon apples:

  • 100g of apple (chopped into small ½ cm square pieces)
  • 1 tbsp (10g) of vegan butter
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of soft brown sugar

For the custard:

  • 250ml of oat cream
  • 1 tbsp of custard powder (I use Birds)
  • 30g of caster sugar

For the topping:

  • Crumbled vegan cookie


  1. Start off by preparing the cinnamon apples. Peel and core the apples and cut into half and then chop into smaller square like pieces. Heat up a pan, add the vegan butter and the apples and cook for five minutes until soft.
  2. Add the sugar and the cinnamon and give it a good stir and let the sugar dissolve. Once cooked, set aside.
  3. Next, in a pan over medium heat, add the custard powder first followed by a small amount of the oat cream and give it a good whisk to get rid of all the lumps. Add the rest of the cream along with sugar and keep whisking until the custard thickens and starts simmering. Make sure to keep whisking to keep it from burning at the bottom.
  4. To assemble, start off with a layer of the cinnamon apples, followed by the custard and leave to cool. Once cooled, add the cookie crumb on top before serving to keep it from going soggy.