Le Cordon Bleu explains the crème anglaise technique, step by step, with this basic recipe that can be used in all situations.
500 ml milk
1 vanilla bean (pod)
5 egg yolks
100 g sugar
Split the vanilla bean in two lengthwise and use the tip of a knife to scrape out the seeds.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Bring milk, vanilla seeds and bean to a boil.
Gradually whisk one third of the hot milk into the mixture in the bowl
Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. (Do not boil). Raise the spatula out of the saucepan and hold it at an angle. It should be covered crème anglaise. With one finger, trace a horizontal line on the spatula. You should be able to get a clean separation of the crème anglaise which does not run back together.
Strain the crème anglaise through a china cap sieve into a clean bowl which should be sitting in a second, larger bowl containing ice. Stir the crème anglaise regularly until cool.
This technique has been used in the following recipes :