Sunday, 10 August 2008

Cambridge burnt cream

I thoroughly enjoyed Marco Pierre White’s recent television series “The Great British Feast” in which he travelled around Britain and produced classic and modern dishes that best represented our glorious isles.

One dish in particular caught my attention: Cambridge burnt cream.

Surely this is crème brulee, I hear you ask – well, yes it is. Only this is the original recipe. As Marco found out, this recipe dates from Trinity College, Cambridge’s records of 1630. The earliest recorded date of crème brulee is 1691. I suspect that this isn’t the actual recipe of 1630 as I once read that vanilla was not introduced to Britain until the early 1700s but it’s a very welcome addition.

The recipe says to use brown sugar for the caramelised topping; this resulted in a much darker (but just as delicious) caramel than usually seen:

My entire family are custard obsessives. It’s one of the rare food stuffs that we all agree to be divine. Therefore, this was a particularly delicious dessert after Sunday lunch – the silky smooth, fragrant vanilla baked custard topped off with a crisp and sinful sugar crust. Yum.

Probably not one for the diet conscious what with the nine egg yolks and almost a litre of cream, but if you’re having a day of comfort food this recipe is a must!

When making custard, never skip straining the mix otherwise yucky bits like this will ruin the texture:

One final warning – I have given the oven settings as per Marco’s recipe. However, my custard would never have set at this temperature. After an hour I upped the temperature and, checking the custard every 10 minutes, eventually got it to set. Next time, I’ll start out with the oven at the higher temperature set out in my notes below – and there definitely will be a next time as this was simply the most wonderful custard ever; to eat it was to know happiness!

175g caster sugar
9 egg yolks
4 vanilla pods
100ml milk (whole or semi skimmed)
900ml double cream
50g Demerara sugar

How to make:
- Preheat the oven to 120°C/fan oven 100°C/240°F/Gas mark 1/4 [however - note my comments on temperature below].
- Stand 6 large ramekins in a roasting tin, put to one side.
- Beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and golden.
- Split the vanilla pods in half and scrape out the seeds.
- Put the milk, cream and vanilla (pods and seeds) in a large saucepan and bring to the boil very slowly. The slower you bring to the boil, the greater the time for the vanilla to infuse the cream/milk.
- Pour the boiling cream mix through a sieve onto the eggs and sugar and mix until well combined.
- Pour through a sieve again to catch any little eggy bits that will make the custard a nasty texture.
- Ladle into the ramekins and then pour hot water into the roasting tray so that it comes approximately half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake until set. This can take anything from 30 minutes up. However, mine would never have set at this temperature so I raised the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C where, after 40 minutes it did set. You want the custard set but still with a quiver if you gently shake the roasting tin.
- Remove from the oven and let the custards cool. When cool, refrigerate until required.
- Before serving, heat the grill to maximum heat.
- Sprinkle the Demerara sugar on the top of each custard and then place under the grill until the sugar melts and turns golden– or use a blow torch if you have one.
- Allow the sugar to set hard.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


glamah16 said...

How fascinating. It looks so firm and rich.

Stephen said...

Fantastic, thanks for that! I saw the programme a couple of weeks ago, and then yesterday I was at Trinity for a wedding, the breakfast was in the Hall and they served this (with some fresh berries) as dessert! Absolutely amazing.

I might have to try making it myself now...

Ling's Passion said...

I've been thinking about creme brulee and you read my mind. We must be of the same wave length....ha...ha..ha

Dee said...

Hi cuz! We must be related cos I'm pretty custard obsessed too ;) I think, I might even prefer custard to chocolate. Gasp.

The Caked Crusader said...

Hooray - the custard revolution starts here!!!

Anonymous said...
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Cakelaw said...

This looks delightful!

Rosie said...

Oh this is absolutely fantastic!! My family love any type of custards and this one sure looks scrummy :)

Rosie x