Pap – An Old Fashioned Stovetop Custard

There has often been confusion over the word “PAP”. Some individuals use the term for infant cereal, but a true pap is a custard type dish that is rich in flavor. Pap is a stirred custard, also known as soft custard, custard sauce or, erroneously, boiled custard. It is cooked on top of the stove and stirred to a creamy, but pourable, consistency. It includes custards made with or without starch, such as flour or cornstarch. The ingredients include whole eggs as well as egg yolks used to add body and richness.


  • 2 cups half and half or cream
  • 3 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp or more vanilla (amoretto or almond flavor)
  • 1/8 tsp salt


Step 1

In a separate bowl, whisk the 3 eggs (and the 2 eggs yolks, if using for a richer pudding), sugar, salt, cornstarch and the melted butter until fluffy.

Step 2

In a separate saucepan, heat the half and half (or cream) and the vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scalded (you'll see small bubbles on the sides of the pan). Do not boil.

Step 3

Add the heated cream very slowly to the egg mixture while mixing. Eggs need time to adjust to heat or they will curdle if they're exposed to heat too quickly.

Step 4

Pierce a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the custard in about a dozen places with the tip of a sharp knife or a toothpick.

Step 5

Place pierced plastic wrap directly onto surface and refrigerate to set.

Before refrigerating a just-cooked or baked custard, let it cool about 5 - 10 minutes and then cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure it touches the surface of the custard to prevent the milk proteins from forming a thin crust on top when refrigerated.

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