Creme caramel is one of those things that I have a always wanted to try making but never have. I don’t know why, its hardly an expensive dessert to make compared to others, maybe its just the time it takes in the oven has put me off in the past.
My sister has gone off to university, she decided to have a dessert party before she left and funnily enough, asked me to make a creme caramel.
We used to get it as a dessert at school sometimes and it was always the first thing to go at the school parties where everyone used to bring something to the table. Very, very rarely mum would give in and buy us the little flan pots from lidl. So I was excited to give it a go.
I was immediately faced with a problem. Mum doesn’t have any ramekins, like the Mary Berry recipe I had been planning to use specifies. After lots of research into other recipes for big ones, measuring the volume of oven proof dishes in the house, calling family members about their dishes and considering just buying one.
I gave up being a perfectionist.
I used mums old bowl she makes crumble in. Which is pretty big, but at least it has high sides. I didn’t want to turn it out and land up with a pancake so I modified the recipe to use 900ml of milk. If by some miracle it turned out to be too much mixture, well, I’d just have to do something else with it.
120g granulated sugar
72g caster sugar
900ml full fat milk
Few drops of vanilla essence or lemon zest
Preheat oven to 150c.
Put the granulated sugar and 4tbs of water in a heavy saucepans and dissolve over low heat. Bring to the boil, without stirring, until syrup is golden brown.
Make sure you get a good colour here, if its too pale it will just be super sweet and you wont get that lovely dark top.
Here was my first attempt:
I realised this was way too pale and had to warm it up in the oven and then chip it off.
Here is my much better second attempt:
So, as you can see, pour the caramel into the bottom of your dish/dishes and spread it, like a pancake in a pan, around the whole bottom.
Let this cool until its hard, I popped mine outside in the cold cornish air.
Make the custard:
Mix the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla essence in a large bowl.
Warm the milk in a sauce pan over a low heat until its hand hot. I used gold top milk for extra creaminess (I saw some recipes used cream so this seemed like a good comprimise). Pour in the egg mixture, stirring constantly.
Brush butter around the sides of the dish/dishes above the caramel. Pour in the egg mixture and place the bowl in a roasting tin. Pour in hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish (or as high as you can in my case). Cover the whole thing with tin foil and place in the centre of the oven for about two hours if you are doing one big one, 45-60 mins for ramekins, until set.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, then place in the fridge for at least 12h.
Just before serving, loosen the custard from the mould with a small knife, swish the bowl a little bit to make sure its all loose before turning out onto a big plate. When choosing the plate bear in mind that the custard will spread and the syrup will drip down the sides and pool at the bottom. I ended up using a small tray!
Mary Berry suggests decorating with physalis, fine stripes of lime zest or cracked caramel but personally I like it as it is 🙂
I think the spots are from air pockets from whisking, so be careful not to go too mad with the whisk like I did. I made the same mistake with the cheesecake… When will I learn?!