The Fairy Hobfather is a delightful creature, who flits from blog to blog dispensing joy. I left a comment on Deb's blog after he visited her, and was lucky enough to be the next lucky recipient of an Amazon voucher. If you comment on this post, you may be the next person to receive a visit from the Appliances Online fairies. And I now have a nifty oak cookbook stand and a preserving funnel on their way to me. That's a lot more exciting than you may think.
Something else that is more exciting than you may think... (wow, was that a suave segue or what?) Recently, I had a breakthrough. I've always had a big fat mental block about crème caramel. This is because my mother, an excellent cook, buggered one up about 30 years ago. It's these little traumas that stay with a girl. My fear of crème caramel was compounded when my mother got married. Just before the dessert was to be served, a waiter popped out and apologised that the crème caramels had all split. I was convinced that if my mother and The Bather's Pavilion were unable to produce a crème caramel I had no hope at all.
Then Simon Hopkinson changed my mind. I've already blogged about the awesomeness of his Good Cook series, but one of the dishes he made was an orange caramel custard. Everything else he'd made on the series was so achievable that I thought "What the heck" and decided to have a go.
I read a whole bunch of recipes and then struck out on my own. I decided to make one big one to share, thinking that it would be easier on the nerves than trying to get 6 individual ones right. The big thing about crème caramel, really, is that it has very few ingredients, so it is pretty important to make sure that each of them is high quality.
Crème Caramel (serves 5 or 6)
100g caster sugar
splash of water
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar, extra
500ml single cream
1tsp vanilla bean paste
2 - 3 strips lemon zest
Make a caramel from the sugar and a splash of water (mine really should have been a little bit darker, but I got anxious at a critical moment). Pour the hot caramel into the base of a 1lb loaf tin and rotate it, to get the caramel a bit up the sides.
Mix the cream, vanilla and lemon zest in a small pan, bring to a gentle simmer for a couple of minutes to let the flavours infuse.
Whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the extra sugar in a bowl, then pour the hot cream on, whisking well (but trying not to get it too frothy). Strain the custard into the loaf tin.
Place the loaf tin into a deep baking tin and stand it on the middle shelf of the oven. Pour boiling water around it (being careful not to splash) until the water comes about half way up the sides of the loaf tin. Cook at 170C for 50 minutes - it should still be a bit wobbly in the middle.
Cool, then chill in the fridge over night (this bit lets the caramel deliquesce). To serve, run a palette knife around the edge and turn gently onto a serving dish with a bit of a rim - it would be very sad to lose any of the caramel.