Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Take the hint

After completing my oat bran date loaf on Saturday night, I found myself still reasonably motivated, and decided to have a go at a crème caramel (p201). It was going to need to chill overnight anyway, so I figured I'd better get it underway.

The first thing to do is the syrup. It's made by stirring water and sugar together over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then letting it boil until it turns golden. It seemed to take a while to turn colour, and I turned the heat up in my impatience. I probably shouldn't have done that: though I pulled the pan off the heat the moment the syrup began to turn colour, it darkened instantly and there was more than a hint of scorch in the air.

I should have taken that hint and re-done the syrup. Instead I thought to myself "maybe it's supposed to be a little bitter" and kept going. I divided the syrup evenly among three ramekins (the full recipe is for six) and moved on to the custard.

I rinsed out my saucepan and returned it to the stove, this time with some milk in it. I had to heat the milk to 'almost boiling' but not let it boil. With one eye on the milk, I beat eggs and sugar together in a bowl, and when the milk was ready, I quickly combined the milk with the egg mixture.

The custard mixture looked quite smooth already, but I followed the recipe anyway and strained it before pouring it on top of the syrup in the ramekins. These were sitting ready in a roasting dish, which I filled with water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. I carefully transferred the dish to the oven, and baked the custards for 35 minutes.

When the crème caramels came out of the oven, I allowed them to cool, then put them in the fridge overnight. When I came hoe from work yesterday, I had a go at getting one out.

I wasn't confident that I could get that syrup to unstick from the ramekin, so I sat it in some boiling water for a few minutes. I could see the syrup starting to ooze up around the sides, so I turned the ramekin onto a plate. This wasn't enough to get the crème caramel out - some persuasion in the from of fingers and knives was required, but on the whole, it wasn't too difficult.

The crème caramel certainly looked good on the plate, but what did it taste like? Well, the custard was beautifully smooth, creamy and not at all eggy, something of a surprise after the hash I made of my only previous attempt at baked custard. It doesn't have much flavour in itself though - the flavour comes from the caramel, which as you know, was sub-standard. I can see how this could be a delicious dessert - you just need to judge that syrup a little better than I did!

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