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My Joy of Baking Pudding Recipe Did Not Set - Twice!


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I have tried making this recipe (with whole milk) a couple of times, and neither time did the pudding set.  However, I did a couple of things differently:  I added two vanilla beans to the milk while it was heating and I cooked the mixture in a double boiler (bowl placed over a Dutch oven).  The mixture was, as noted in the video, mayonnaise-like in it's consistency when removed from the heat at which point I added the butter and a teaspoon+ of vanilla extract for a little flavor boost.  I then strained and transferred the pudding mixture into a glass bowl that would later be used for serving.

 

I left the mixture on the counter to cool in the bowl before placing it in the refrigerator.  However, when I returned to the pudding it was no longer thick, but very soupy, like a typical cream soup.  Covering the bowl and refrigerating over night did nothing to firm up the pudding.

 

What could be causing this problem?  I'm stymied.

 

 

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Did you let the pudding mixture come to a boil and let it boil for a minute? Since cornstarch is the primary thickener, this is the necessary process to make this pudding. Don't know why they don't mention this in the recipe's directions. More about cornstarch here http://www.argostarch.com/movieviewer3.asp and http://www.finecooking.com/articles/thickeners-food-science.aspx.

Edited by curls (log)
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2 hours ago, curls said:

Did you let the pudding mixture come to a boil and let it boil for a minute? [...] More about cornstarch here http://www.argostarch.com/movieviewer3.asp and http://www.finecooking.com/articles/thickeners-food-science.aspx.

 

 

Thanks!  I believe I did, but maybe not, so I'll make the pudding again today and be sure to follow your suggestion.  I'll pay more attention to that detail.  The pudding has great flavor, so I really want to get it right.

 ... Shel


 

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And did you use eggs only from vegetarian chickens as instructed in the recipe? - I'm sure that probably played a part! Those chickens will eat insects when they are out free ranging in the barnyard.

 

I may be misreading but I don't see anywhere in the recipe where it tells you to bring to a boil with the cornstarch - so I think the recipe is at fault.

 

 

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The problem is using a double boiler. Note that the recipe does not mention using one, it pretty clearly tells you which pans to use and I agree that those types of pans would be best.

 

The pudding isn't getting hot enough. A double boiler setup can only get so hot (the temperature of steam), and that's it because the steam evaporates and/or cools as it rises. Double boilers are made for warming things, like sauces where you just want them at 140°, but terrible for large quantities that you want to actually come to a boil. It's almost impossible to bring anything to a boil in a double boiler, as its primary function is to prevent the food in it from getting very hot. Also since you used a bowl for your pudding, the bulk of the product was sitting high, in the cool area of the setup, and it had a lower surface area to insides contact ratio than the small base of the bowl. If you had used a thermometer, you would have seen a temp far lower than boiling in the top 2 inches of the bowl.

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15 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

The problem is using a double boiler. Note that the recipe does not mention using one, it pretty clearly tells you which pans to use and I agree that those types of pans would be best.

 

The pudding isn't getting hot enough. A double boiler setup can only get so hot (the temperature of steam), and that's it because the steam evaporates and/or cools as it rises. Double boilers are made for warming things, like sauces where you just want them at 140°, but terrible for large quantities that you want to actually come to a boil. It's almost impossible to bring anything to a boil in a double boiler, as its primary function is to prevent the food in it from getting very hot. Also since you used a bowl for your pudding, the bulk of the product was sitting high, in the cool area of the setup, and it had a lower surface area to insides contact ratio than the small base of the bowl. If you had used a thermometer, you would have seen a temp far lower than boiling in the top 2 inches of the bowl.

 

Actually, the bowl I used sits low in the pot, and I do use a thermometer.  The temp of the mixture was close to 200-degrees.  There is a large surface area that's exposed to the steam in the setup I use, which is the same setup I use for lemon curd, and I cook my curd to about 180-degrees.

 ... Shel


 

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13 hours ago, RuthWells said:

Egg yolks are significantly smaller than they used to be.  I'd add another yolk and see if that helps.

 

 

The eggs I use have larger yolks and greater mass than other large eggs that I've found.  However, I have thought of adding an additional yolk just to see what happens.

 ... Shel


 

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3 hours ago, Shel_B said:

 

Actually, the bowl I used sits low in the pot, and I do use a thermometer.  The temp of the mixture was close to 200-degrees.  There is a large surface area that's exposed to the steam in the setup I use, which is the same setup I use for lemon curd, and I cook my curd to about 180-degrees.

 

Cornstarch doesn't begin to start thickening until it hits at least 203°F at sea level. As stated before in this thread, and mentioned in the recipe, it's best to take a mixture to a boil and stir a bit to visually confirm that the whole container has gotten well above 203°.

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29 minutes ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

Cornstarch doesn't begin to start thickening until it hits at least 203°F at sea level. As stated before in this thread, and mentioned in the recipe, it's best to take a mixture to a boil and stir a bit to visually confirm that the whole container has gotten well above 203°.

 

Yeah, I got that info earlier ... I didn't know at what temp cornstarch set up, and now I do.  Thanks for your help and the additional details.  Much appreciated.

 ... Shel


 

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