I've mentioned this recipe before but here it is in all its glory. The recipe came from Stephen Downes' fantastic book 100 Food Experiences To Have Before You Die.
- 200 grams sugar - for the caramel
- 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of water
- 200 grams of castor sugar
- 6 eggs
- 2 or 3 vanilla pods
- 4 cups of milk
First up caramelise the sugar. In a saucepan heat the 200 grams of sugar with about a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Melt it till you get a beautiful tan coloured liquid. It will be extremely hot so be careful. Pour the syrup into an oven dish and roll it around till it comes up the sides about two thirds.
In another saucepan bring the 4 cups of milk and the split vanilla pods to the boil.
While the milk and vanilla are coming to boil blend up the 200 grams of sugar and the half dozen eggs. When the milk comes to boil strain and pour it into the sugar and egg mixture. Whisk away. Whisk as if your life depends on it. Not really but give it a decent whisk. Look at the picture below. The blurring isn't because of a really slow shutter speed it is because Michelle is whisking so fast she has become a blur. Really.
Pour the whisked mixture into the baking dish over the top of the caramel. The baking dish goes into a bain-marie. That is a fancy french term for a bigger dish with hot water in it. The water should come about halfway up the side of the creme baking dish.
Pop the whole kit and kaboodle into a oven pre-heated to about 180 for about 40 minutes. We usually cook it for a little longer. Our oven is crap so we may even cook it for another 10 - 15 minutes and bump up the temperature to 200. It is done when the top is brown and it wobbles when you shake it. Don't shake it like you would maracas for gosh sakes.
Put it in the fridge for a few hours and it will set perfectly. The fun part is when it comes to serving. Run a knife around the edge and turn it out on plate. Put the plate over the dish and invert it and it should just plop onto the plate. This is called living dangerously though. If it hasn't set properly it won't as much plop as splooge. This is messy. You could do what we do and just use a large spoon and serve it that way. The custard should be smooth and have an almost mirror like finish except you won't be able to see your reflection because it isn't a mirror it is custard. I'm not sure of the actual reflective properties of custard.
Looks good eh? Dammit though. I have to wait till tomorrow. This thing will be sitting in the fridge calling to me, taunting me with that classic French custardy goodness...
One final note. It is definitely better the next day. Preparing it the day before you want to have it makes it taste better. Anticipation? Maybe.