Books for Cooks invited me to give a lunchtime talk when the paperback of Don't Sweat the Aubergine (links on the right) came out. The shop did not blow my cover by asking me to cook the lunch; Eric Treuille, co-owner with his wife Rosie Kindersley, did that. He made both versions of the custard in the book: one, richer, including egg yolks; the second including whole eggs. He told me that he preferred the lighter version.
We had it for lunch yesterday. It took 10 minutes to prepare.
For a classier result, you might use a vanilla pod. The bain-marie is not essential; but it does help to spread the heat through the dish, and to prevent the edges from overcooking.
This recipe would serve three, or, in dainty portions, four. Two of us ate it all.
150 ml double cream
150 ml milk
1 tbsp caster sugar, or 1 dstsp honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
A little butter
Warm the cream, milk, sugar (or honey) and vanilla in a small saucepan. Beat the eggs. Butter an oven dish, and put it in a roasting tin. When bubbles appear on the cream mixture, pour it gradually into the eggs, whisking all the time. (You need to disperse the heat so that you do not get bits of scrambled egg.) Pour the custard into the oven dish. Pour boiling water into the roasting tin to come half way up the sides of the dish.
Bake at gas mark 3/160 C for about 30 minutes, or until the custard is set. Eat hot or cold.