Us Bay Area residents can be a proud bunch when it comes to food. And justifiably so! With a climate that guarantees us picture perfect produce year round, we live in a veritable Eden of fresh, delicious food, far, far away from places with canned vegetables and bizarre obsessions with egg sandwiches--places like the Midwest or the East Coast.
Yet, there’s one area that they’ve got us beat: frozen custard, a frozen Midwest and East Coast treat that’s rich, creamy and definitely better than ice cream.
At least, that’s what you’ll hear from the collection of Midwest and East Coast transplants bringing frozen custard to the Bay Area, a growing group that includes Flavor Brigade in Oakland, The Velvet Scoop in San Francisco, Rita’s in Castro Valley, and food trucks like Lexie's Frozen Custard, Frozen Kuhsterd and IzzyA's. Armed with patient explanations and lots of egg yolks, they’re introducing the ice cream lovers of the Bay Area to the pleasures of custards, concretes and gelati. And they’re not the only ones who’ve recognized custard’s potential in the Bay Area. In February, East Coast custard and Italian ice chain Rita’s announced their plans to open 60 stores in Northern California over the next few years. And later that month, Oakland-born Dreyer's introduced a line of packaged frozen custards coming to a freezer aisle near you.
So, what is this beloved treat? Frozen custard is a form of ice cream that's denser and richer than your typical pint, and is governed by the FDA’s strict rules, which ensure that custard is always made with at least 1.4 egg yolk solids by weight, giving it a silky richness.
It also has less air whipped into it than ice cream. When making ice cream, the percent of volume increase due to the air added is referred to as overrun. While ice cream can have up to 100% overrun (meaning that half the volume of your pint of butter pecan is air), frozen custard typically has much less (around 20-25%), making it dense smoothness. Since it’s typically made to order and never frozen, it also has the easier to eat texture of soft serve.