A custard is a liquid that is thickened or set by the coagulation of egg protein. There are two basic kinds of custards:

1. Stirred custard, which is stirred as it cooks and remains pourable when done.

2. Baked custard, which is not stirred and which sets firm.

One basic rule governs the preparation of both custards: Do not heat custards higher than an internal temperature of 185°F (85°C).

This temperature, as you know, is the point at which egg-liquid mixtures coagulate. If they are heated more than this, they tend to curdle.An overbaked custard becomes watery because the moisture separates from the toughened protein.

Most custards are sweet.These preparations are covered in the baking and dessert section of this book.You may have already encountered a savory custard in the recipe for Spinach Timbales (p. 568).

The quiche (keesh),which is a custard baked in a pastry shell,is probably the most popular form of savory custard. The following recipe illustrates the technique for preparing savory custards.

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