Nonna Renata’s Custard

Nonna Renata’s Custard

by Ilaria Catizone

When I was little growing up in Italy, one of my favourite desserts was the custard my grandmother made. It was smooth and delicious, sweet with a hint of bitter from the lemon rind. It was good on bread or cake, but really I just preferred it on its own, eaten by the spoonful!

Now decades later and thousands of kilometres away, this recipe reminds me of my dear Nonna and gives me a way to use up our current glut of milk from our pet dairy goats and eggs from our pet chookies. But with only 5 simple ingredients this is a great protein-packed dessert anyone should have on high rotation! And the best part? Most of the ingredients are at the Co-op and from local suppliers!

You will need:

1 litre of milk – my Nonna used cow’s milk, I use goat’s and you could experiment with using plant-based milks too.

8 egg yolks – keep the whites! You can make meringue with them, or just add them to pancakes or scrambled eggs alongside a few whole eggs.

8 tablespoons of sugar – the Co-op’s raw sugar is great for this, but any type will do. I use less than this though as I prefer it less sweet!

3 level tablespoons of sifted flour – I use plain flour from the co-op, sometimes white, sometimes wholemeal, depending on what I have on hand. The purpose of the flour here is to thicken up the custard so gluten free flour would also work.

2 pieces of lemon rind – you can grate the rind in, but my Nonna used to cut two pieces of rind 2-3 cm long and drop them in the milk. As a child, my favourite part was to find them and lick them clean!


Mix the yolks with the sugar in a bowl;
Pour them in a pot containing the milk and lemon rind;
Whisk well!

Start the heat and keep stirring;
Add the sifted flour as you whisk;
Keep whisking!!

Whisk some more! You cannot leave the custard alone. 

Cook on low heat until the custard starts to thicken to your desired consistency;
I usually keep going until the first bubbles start to form telling me the mixture is about to boil;
Set aside to cool then pour into a jar and store in the fridge.

The most important thing in this recipe is patience! You really do need to stir almost constantly and keep it on low heat. It takes about 30 minutes to get it to the right consistency, so I normally use this time to clean the kitchen, read something or watch a show, while I stir!

But trust me, it is worth the wait!