Custard is a deceptively simple thing. The dish is usually rich with eggs and milk and should come out of the oven lusciously light, if done correctly. But these ingredients can be surprisingly difficult to control and The Splendid Spoonful:From Custard to Creme Brulee is a book dedicated to them and to helping guide you, the reader, through all the things necessary to master the process of making them.
Rather than jumping right into recipes, the authors spend some time discussing the mechanics of custards. This includes a discussion of the properties of custard’s most common ingredients and of how the ingredients interact with one another. Mixing methods and baking methods are also covered, and the conversational tone in which the book is written makes it sound as through the authors are speaking directly to you when they offer tips on troubleshooting common problems.
Even though the discussion of the same basic ingredients is repeated a few times, don’t think that the book begins and ends with a single baked custard dish, varied only with different flavorings and toppings. The recipes include creme brules, ice cream, creme anglaise and even bread puddings, and there is a big range of both sweet (Cappuccino Creme Brulee) and savory (Herbed mushroom bread pudding). Some dishes are baked and the custard base for others is simply cooked on the stovetop. I would put clafoutis and french toast creme brulee on the simpler side of the recipes, and categorize the flans and pots de creme as slightly more difficult, to give you a general idea of the categories included. The recipes are well presented and quite easy to follow. Full-color photos make the book look great and will no doubt influence which recipes you opt to try first.