How to make classic vanilla custard bars

Calling all dessert lovers! Dive into the delightful world of How to make classic vanilla custard bars. This recipe combines a flaky pastry crust with a smooth and creamy vanilla custard filling, creating a treat that’s both satisfying and elegant.

Explore the secrets to baking delectable Classic Vanilla Custard Bars! This comprehensive guide unveils ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and answers frequently asked questions to help you recreate this timeless dessert at home.

Ingredients for How to make classic vanilla custard bars:

Ingredients for How to make classic vanilla custard bars


  • For the Pastry Crust:

    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons ice water (add more if needed)
    • 1 large egg yolk
  • For the Vanilla Custard Filling:

    • 2 cups whole milk
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Pinch of salt
  • For the Egg Wash (Optional):

    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 tablespoon milk

Instructions for How to make classic vanilla custard bars:


  1. Prepare the Pastry Crust:

    • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
    • Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
    • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and ice water.
    • Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture, using a fork or spatula to combine until a shaggy dough forms. Be careful not to overmix.
    • Tip: If the dough feels dry, add a tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough comes together.
    • Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight) to allow the gluten to relax and ensure a flaky crust.
  2. Preheat the Oven:

    • While the dough chills, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  3. Roll Out the Dough:

    • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.
  4. Line the Baking Pan:

    • Carefully transfer the dough to an ungreased 9×13-inch baking pan. Trim the edges and crimp or flute the crust according to your preference.
    • Optional: Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times to prevent air bubbles from forming while baking.
  5. Pre-Bake the Crust (Optional):

    • This step helps prevent a soggy bottom crust. Line the prepped pie crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans.
    • Bake the crust for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove the weights and parchment paper.|
  6. Make the Vanilla Custard Filling:

    • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until smooth.
    • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
  7. Temper the Egg Yolks:

    • Here’s the Key Step: Slowly whisk a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. This prevents the yolks from scrambling when added to the hot liquid.
    • Gradually whisk the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the remaining hot milk mixture in the saucepan.
  8. Cook the Custard:

    • Heat the custard mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens considerably and begins to bubble. The custard should coat the back of a spoon.
    • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  9. Assemble and Bake:

    • Pour the hot custard filling into the pre-baked (or unbaked) pie crust.
  10. Egg Wash (Optional):

    • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk for the egg wash. Brush the edges of the pastry crust with the egg wash for a golden brown color (optional).
  11. Bake the Custard Bars:

    • Bake the custard bars for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center is slightly jiggly.
  12. Cool and Serve:

    • Remove the custard bars from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, at room temperature. This allows the custard to set firmly.13. Serving Suggestion (continued):

      • Dust the cooled custard bars with powdered sugar for a touch of sweetness and elegance before slicing and serving. You can also add a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of chocolate sauce for an extra decadent treat.

        Tips for How to make classic vanilla custard bars:
        Tips for How to make classic vanilla custard bars

        • Blind Baking Option: If you choose not to pre-bake the crust, simply pour the hot custard filling into the unbaked pie crust and bake for the full 30-35 minutes. Keep an eye on the crust during baking; if the edges start to brown too quickly, cover them with foil to prevent burning.
        • Egg Substitute: For an egg-free crust option, you can use a recipe specifically formulated for vegan or egg-allergic individuals.
        • Leftovers: Store leftover Classic Vanilla Custard Bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


        Can I use store-bought puff pastry instead of making my own crust?

        Absolutely! Using a pre-made puff pastry crust can save you time. Just ensure it’s thawed and rolled out to the appropriate size (according to the package instructions) to fit your baking pan. Follow any pre-baking recommendations on the puff pastry package.

        How will I know when the custard is done?

        The custard is done when it thickens considerably and begins to bubble. Insert a toothpick into the center of the custard bars; if it comes out clean with a slight wobble in the center, the custard is set.

        My custard filling is too runny. What can I do?

        There are a couple of reasons why your custard might be runny:

        • Not cooked long enough: Ensure you whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles.
        • Cornstarch ratio: If the issue persists, you can try adding a cornstarch slurry in the future. In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold milk or water until smooth. Gradually whisk this slurry into the simmering custard mixture until it reaches the desired consistency.

        Can I substitute other spices for vanilla extract?

        While vanilla extract is a classic choice, you can experiment with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or even a pinch of cardamom for a unique twist on the flavor profile.

        What is the difference between custard bars and a custard pie?

        Custard bars and custard pies share a similar custard filling, but custard bars are typically baked in a rectangular baking pan, resulting in individual bar-shaped servings. Custard pie, on the other hand, is usually baked in a pie dish and served as a whole pie.

        With this detailed guide and helpful tips, you’re well on your way to baking delicious and impressive Classic Vanilla Custard Bars! So preheat your oven, gather your ingredients, and get ready to indulge in this timeless dessert.

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