Custards, very good

This week I explored a recipe for custard pastries that was originally published in 1801.

Choice Collection of Cookery Receipts (1801): Custards, very good

Boil a quart of cream, then sweeten it with fine powdered sugar, beat eight or nine yolks of egg, with two spoonfuls of orange flower water; stir this in the cream, and strain all through a sieve: Fill the cups and crust, and bake them with care.

I had to make a few substitutions and alterations for this recipe. First, I halved the recipe. I do this with most historical recipes because they often use giant quantities. I substituted orange peel for the orange flower water. I used premade Pillsbury pie crust dough because I couldn’t be bothered to make my own pastry, and I used a cupcake tray because I don’t own pastry cases.


I also decided to cook this recipe while in costume, which was an interesting experience! I wore my pink flowery 1800s empire waist gown with an apron, a large fichu, and a tidy cap. I found it comfortable to work in but very hot!

This recipe comes from my book, The Huswif’s Guide. The book contains 18 other recipes from 1801, as well as cleaning tricks, home remedies, and other tips from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a great resource for reenactors or living history workers who want high levels of historical accuracy. The recipes are also fantastic — this one was absolutely delicious!

Custards, very good

2 cups of cream

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4 egg yolks

Zest of 1/2 an orange


Slowly bring the cream to a light boil, then add the sugar, eggs, and zest. Cook on a low heat and stir continually until the mixture thickens (you can add a bit of corn starch if it isn’t thickening well). Sieve the custard to remove lumps and zest. Line pastry tins with pastry, and pour the thickened custard into the pastry tins. Bake at 350 F for 5-10 minutes, until the pastry looks sufficiently cooked. Then put the oven on broil for 1-2 minutes, until custard begins to brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and serve! 


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Marta Olmos

Historian and dressmaker writing about clothing and social history | Gainesville, FL

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