Nearly every culture has its own version of a vanilla cream or custard. In Greece, it is called a 'krema' and is usually heavily dusted with layers of cinnamon. It is a standard in all Greek homes and is a favourite childhood dessert, along with rizogalo, a rich and creamy rice pudding flavoured with orange zest. It can also be used a a filling for many Greek pastries, like the delectable morning breakfast pastry, bougatsa.
The first time I tried this pudding was during our honeymoon, on the Island of Lefkada. It had been many years since Mr K had tried a krema. The traditional milk shops, which can be found in the streets and winding alleyways of Lefkas Town, sold them in little teracotta and white plastic tubs, for 1euro each along with complimentary dustings of cinnamon. This sort of traditional shop has long died out in Australia. Even the 1950s style milk bar and corner store is close to extinction. On every trip back to Lefkas, I am always happy to see the milk shops are still there and selling the delectable krema and rizogalo! The stores are a beautiful window of history and it is heartening to see that they are still a part of everyday life - frequented by many customers.
The basis of the pudding is cornflour (or cornstarch) and it is incredibly versatile. You can serve it alongside fruit, with the traditional layers of cinnamon and a little nutmeg. For big kids, you can add chocolate and a splash of hazelnut liqueur.
2 cups milk
1/4 cup organic, unbleached caster sugar (you can adjust sugar to your taste)
3 tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean or vanilla paste / extract
Step 1: Add sugar, cornstarch, and salt into your saucepan.
Step 2: Add milk, whisk to combine so there are no lumps and turn stovetop on to medium heat.
Step 3: Remove the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to milk along with its pod (or add paste or extract) and keep whisking.
Step 4: The mixture will slowly start to thicken. It will be ready when you can see a line or streak left from the whisk in the bottom of the saucepan.
Step 5: Place in small bowls and fill in the fridge for at least one hour. Serve dusted with cinnamon and a little nutmeg and fresh fruit.