Puddings are ridiculously simple, but people rarely make it homemade. They think it’ll take too much time or that they’ll mess it up. Neither is true. There are, however, some tips to keep in mind.
1. Make sure your recipe is a good one. Don’t just presume that because it is online or in a recipe book that it actually is correct. For some reason there are a lot online and in books that tell you to do things incorrectly like add the cornstarch by itself to the mixture, which leads me to point two.
2. Cornstarch (or another thickener like arrowroot or tapioca starch): The key to pudding is how you thicken it. Cornstarch is the traditional thickener used, but it should never, ever be added to pudding by itself. Doing so will simply “gummy up” your pudding. Cornstarch is always to be mixed with your sugar (if you’re using it) and salt before adding it to your liquid or it needs to be mixed with liquid before adding it to the rest of your pudding mixture. The same should be kept in mind if you use arrowroot or tapioca starch.
Cornstarch also thickens best when your cooking temperature is even, so a stainless steel pan or enamel covered is best which leads us to point three.
3. Cooking Method: The best way to make pudding is to use a double boiler. I don’t own one so I simply put one pan on top of another. There are two ways of doing so: put a smaller pot filled halfway with water on the bottom and a slightly larger one on top or put water halfway in a pot that another pot will fit snugly into without touching the water below.
Whichever method you use, you want to bring your water to a boil before you begin making your pudding, because the heat from the boiled water is necessary for thickening your pudding.
When you do begin making your pudding, it’s important to stir the mixture well in the beginning so all ingredients are evenly mixed and there are no lumps. Then, after your mixture has come to a boil, when you’ve added your thickener, it’s important to continually stir the mixture so it doesn’t burn on the bottom, which brings us to point four.
4. Patience: Pudding doesn’t actually take all that long, maybe fifteen minutes or so to completely cook, but when you’re standing over it, stirring constantly, fifteen minutes begins to feel like a long time. When it does, do not be tempted to try to speed things up or to stop stirring. Use the time to relax. Allow yourself the luxury of not being rushed and being able to reflect. Before you know it, the pudding will have thickened, and you’ll have a nice treat.