Been a while! But there's a good reason. First, I got sick. And I can't give good feedback on a recipe when I can't taste it. Second, I don't often read what I'm going to be doing the next week before I embark on doing it, so when I took a look at this recipe strolling through the grocery store for ingredients, I realized it required a half-sphere silicone mold. Six types of whisks? I got that. Silicone mold? Nuh-uh. So I ordered it and waited.
Once you get all that out of the way though, this is actually a really fun recipe. A lot of steps, but it's gratifying. The first step is to make the cookie. It's nothing to write home about--just a shortbread cookie. I noticed when I was making it that it didn't come together quite as well as I thought it would--no smooth ball--so I ended up adding a little extra milk and kneading the ball a bit to get it together. I threw it in the fridge for 5 minutes to let it come together more, and rolled it out.
While the cookies baked, I dealt with the molds. That's a nice thing about this recipe: while there are a lot of steps and a lot of waiting for things to set, everything fits together like a zipper: each piece fits nicely into the pieces before and after it. The pictures here are in the order I did them, so while the cookies were baking and cooling, I melted chocolate and coated the molds.
And then once the cookies cooled, I dipped them in that same chocolate, and let them set. At this point, because I had made an extra cookie, I got to try one, and they were delicious. Do I wish they browned a bit? As a cookie alone, yes. But when you put it together, it's really interesting to have this mild, crumby cookie.
The final part of this recipe is the marshmallow. I advise you: if you have a hand mixer, use it. I do not, and said to myself "You haven't worked out in a while. You could use a little whisking." Well, it was a lot of whisking. Whisking egg whites isn't so bad. But over simmering water with sugar, sugar syrup, vanilla, and salt? It took longer. A lot longer. And I think I stopped too early. Ideally, the marshmallow turns thick and stiff, and while mine didn't drip, it did droop. But my arms were just so tired.
And now to put it all together. Assembly and presentation, as I'm sure I've said before, are is my forte. I'm basically making it up as I go along, and my DSLR makes everything look pretty. I have fun trying though. The key here, which I learned after filling 5 of the 6, is to not overfill with marshmallow. You will have leftover marshmallow. And, delicious as it is, you shouldn't fill to the brim, because then you'll have ugly bottoms. Like this....
Not that anyone sees the bottom of your dish, but I like to think every part of your craft should be beautiful. Even the parts nobody can see.
It adds something special that makes the final product taste that much better, subconsciously. And these tasted good. A few things I would do differently: leave the mold to drip more to give a thinner shell (the volume of chocolate made the dessert far too sweet), whip the marshmallow more to give a stiffer batter, and probably cook the biscuit a bit more to give it more of a snap and less of a crumble. I highly recommend making these. It's worth the effort.
Chocolate Tea Cakes
makes 6 cakes
100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
25 grams (1 ounce) GRANULATED SUGAR
25 grams (1 ounce) BUTTER
1 tablespoon MILK
3 large EGG WHITES
150 grams (5 1/2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
6 teaspoons GOLDEN SYRUP
1/2 teaspoon SALT
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
283 grams (10 ounces) CHOCOLATE MELTING WAFERS
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Place FLOUR, SALT, BAKING POWDER, and SUGAR into a bowl and mix
3. Rub BUTTER into flour mixture until consistent texture
4. Add MILK into mixture and stir until you form a smooth ball -- note: you may need to knead 5-6 times to bring mixture together if crumbly
5. On a floured surface, roll dough out to 14" thick, and cut out six rounds of 3" diameter to fit your silicone mold
6. Chill rounds in the freezer for 10 minutes, then bake 10-15 minutes until hard (note: they will not brown as normal biscuits because of the low oven temperature)
7. Remove biscuits from the oven and cool on a wire rack
8. Melt the CHOCOLATE WAFERS in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring thoroughly in-between, and let cool slightly
9. Coat the inside of the molds with chocolate by spooning into the molds, then spreading it up the sides with the back of a spoon, then flip the mold upside-down to let excess chocolate fall out (this leaves the coating thin). Set aside at room temperature to set.
10. Dip the flat side of the cooled biscuits in the remaining melted chocolate and leave chocolate side-up to cool on a wire rack
11. Place EGG WHITES, SUGAR, GOLDEN SYRUP, SALT, and VANILLA in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until it turns white and glossy, at least double the size, and thickened to be able to hold a shape
12. Spoon the marshmallow into a piping bag
13. Re-melt the chocolate (it will have hardened) and put it in a piping bag
14. Pipe the marshmallow into each mold, leaving 1/4" of room
15. Pipe some chocolate onto the marshmallow, and place the biscuit, chocolate side-up onto the marshmallow
16. Pipe a ring of chocolate around the biscuit base and smooth as much as you can
17. Leave to set fully, then press up on the bottom of the mold carefully to pop the cakes out of the mold. Store at room temperature
Ah, doughnuts. If I had to pick a favorite food (don't make me pick!), it would be doughnuts. I've always loved them. No joke, when I was in the 2nd grade and everybody had to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up, and most kids were drawing astronaut and firefighter, I chose doughnut maker. No, not baker. Specifically doughnut maker. I had an apron and a chef's had and was looking out of the window of "David's Donut Hut," a white and blue cottage where I imagined I made hundred of doughnuts for sale.
So any chance I get to eat/make doughnuts, I'll take. For the past few years, on National Doughnut Day (the first Friday of June), I've taken it upon myself to make a big plate of doughnuts, which my husband and I inevitably eat entirely by breakfast the following day. We've been known to regularly buy a dozen doughnuts at the grocery store after 5PM when they're half price and nibble at them for a few days. Long story short: the human body is 57% water, and the remaining 43%, at least for me, is made of doughnut.
This dough is quite easy: it's really just a "mix all together and see what happens" shtick. Like with all yeast breads, you're going to think it's never going to come together. And if you're anything like me, you'll want to give up and just throw the dough into a bowl and let it rise a really long time just so you don't have to deal with kneading. And that's definitely an option. This time, however, I decided to persevere. Usually, my doughs are shaggy and lumpy and I just go watch some Schitt's Creek until I remember I have bread to make. But it was late, and I wanted doughnuts, so I soldiered on with my kneading. I'm glad I did.
After the dough rises, you'll have this beautifully smooth mass and it will smell absolutely amazing. There's something about a sweet dough that just smells and feels right. It's a familiar stretchy Play-doh, and if I didn't love doughnuts so much, I would just stand there and play with it. If you've never made homemade yeast dough before, you are missing out. Even if the bread you make ends up sucking, the feel of homemade yeast dough in your hands really has no compare. It's so organic and comforting. Needless to say, I don't understand the gluten-free craze. And even if I'm having weird digestive interactions to yeast, I will suck it up to eat doughnuts.
The one little technical piece to this is how you roll the dough. And it's the one kind of odd part of this recipe. To me, these balls are way too big and way too spherical to be doughnuts. If I were to do this again, I would make 15-20 smaller doughnuts, and smash them down to ovals. That would cut down on the cooking time and allow you a more traditional doughnut shape. But Paul Hollywood wanted spheres.
The best way to do this is to roll the dough into a ball between your hands, then place it under one hand, which is "cupped" downward. If you move your cupped hand in a circular motion on your working surface, the dough will naturally form a ball that brings all of the seams to one side (the bottom). Flip it over and pinch everything together tightly (more tightly than I did), and you have a dough sphere ready for cooking.
Once the second rise is done, you're ready to start frying. I suppose you could bake them and make what I call "fauxnuts," but you've already committed yourself to making doughnuts, and everything in moderation, so if you're not frying the, you're really doing a disservice to the hard work you've already put in. You won't get the same crispiness and doughy goodness you'll get from frying. If you want to cut a couple calories and bake these instead, might I recommend taking a 20-minute walk instead, and then coming back and eating the fried dough? You're welcome.
Before I move on, let me talk about this tool. It is an infrared thermometer and a more traditional chef might say "get this high-tech gadgetry out of my kitchen--a candy thermometer will do nicely." To that I say, "Get off your high horse and into 2017." Candy thermometers are beasts. They're tall, their clamps are dismal, their readings are not clear. They are good for a lot of liquid in deep pots for staid chefs who are afraid of leaving their comfort zone. The infrared thermometer is a game changer. Within two seconds, you can know the exact temperature of your oil (or a pan, or your floors, or your shower water, or your husband's forehead), and when you want to keep a consistent temperature of 350F, only a sous vide machine can do as well.
Go to Amazon and buy one--you'll thank me later. Less than $20 to save yourself a lot of wasted food and worry wrinkles.
And here's where I should advise you to use a larger pan, if you're able. I didn't have enough oil to fill my large dutch oven enough to fry, so I used my trusty small saucepan, and it could only fit one doughnut at a time. Seeing as how each doughnut took 5-10 minutes to cook, I was standing at my stove for quite some time. You should be able to do these in batches of 2-3 and drastically cut down on your time, and speed up on your accuracy (I got sick of standing toward the end, so half of them ended up still raw inside).
How do you know if you're doing a good job? It's hard to tell if the inside is cooked, but I like to use the "tap 'til hollow" method of yeast doughs to start: if you tap on the cooked doughnut and it sounds somewhat hollow, you're probably in good shape. Another good indicator, for doughnuts specifically, is the telltale white line bisecting the ball. That is the key to a properly fried doughnut, and immediately lets the eye know that the stomach is in for some good food.
And good these were. I mean, honestly you can't go wrong with fried dough, so I wasn't expecting anything short of delicious, but there's something satisfying about making these yourself and being able to control things like how brown and crispy the get and how much jam you put inside. I have to say too that these doughnut are not nearly as greasy as the ones you would get down at your local doughnut shop. The key to that is making sure you have the right temperature oil (get the thermometer!). I would actually prefer these to be smaller and fried at a higher temperature (360F should do it)--this would allow them to cook all the way through, stay crispy dark brown on the outside, and absorb even less oil. Just enough to keep the sugar on, but not enough to leave your fingers slick after eating.
500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
50 grams (2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) UNSALTED BUTTER
2 large EGGS
14 grams INSTANT YEAST (rapid rise, not active dry)
10 grams (1/4 ounce) SALT
150 milliliters (5 fluid ounces) WARM MILK
130 milliliters (4 1/2 fluid ounces) WATER
GRANULATED SUGAR, for rolling
BERRY JAM, for filling
1. Place FLOUR, SUGAR, BUTTER, EGGS, YEAST, SALT, MILK, and 100 milliliters of WATER into a bowl
2. Stir with your hands until a dough is formed
3. Slowly add the remaining water and knead the dough in the bowl for four minutes (alternatively, mix in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment)
4. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic
5. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover, then leave to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size)
6. Knock the dough back by kneading it a few times
7. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and shape each into a ball
8. Place the balls of dough onto a floured baking tray and allow to rise for an hour
9. Heat a pot of oil to 350F
10. Lower each doughnut into the fryer, cooking each side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown
11. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and immediately roll in sugar and set aside to cool
12. Place the jam in a pastry bag, and use a paring knife to cut a hole or "X" into the side of the doughnut, then pipe the jam into the doughnut until full (1-2 tablespoons per doughnut)
I'll be honest, I haven't really enjoyed the past few of these weeks of challenge. I mean, I love baking, but how jazzed can I really get over diet flan? Over meat pie? Cheap rum-soaked bread? Season 3 has been a bit of a disappointment. But I think the second half of the season is going to be surprisingly pleasant, starting with this dish. And hey, next week is jelly doughnuts.
But let's start with the name: the queen of puddings. I tell you, after I finish this project, I'm going to have to find a non-British set of bakes to do, because that has to be the most British name I've ever heard. Much as I tried to find the origins of such an odd name, I came up blank. But I don't blame the inventors for using such a regal title for such a pedestrian dish--at the end of the day this is stale bread and custard, so it's not exactly a sophisticated dish.
But boy is it easy, and delicious. It's a three-part dessert, which might be intimidating to some, but if you take each one on its own, it's really quite an easy dessert, and hard to mess up. Step one is the custard: head up some milk with sugar and stuff, throw it in some yolks, and pour it on top of breadcrumbs. Anyone can do that.
Step two honestly should just be "pop open a jar of jam," but I believe they had to make their own on the show, and who am I to break from tradition? I also have never made jam before, and while this is more of a "quick jam," I thought it best to expand my horizons and learn a new skill. And it couldn't be easier: cook some berries, add some sugar, let it hang out until it thickens. The end. I chose blueberries because that's what I had in my freezer, and it was raining outside so going to the store was a negative.
A bit about this custard: it's kind of weird. It seems like a normal custard here, and in baking it, the dish behaved like a normal custard. But once it cooled and once I scooped out a serving, and especially when I had leftovers for breakfast the next day (and the next day, and the next day), the custard became much more solid. Not that it wasn't delicious, and not that it wasn't creamy, but something about baking the custard soaked in breadcrumbs gave the custard a much firmer texture than most (such as flan) have. It wasn't necessarily bad, and it actually made it easier to scoop out servings later, but just be forewarned that you're not going to get the same smooth, creamy texture you would get from most custard recipes.
Step three is the only "tricky" step, and it's only tricky because meringue scares people, when honestly it shouldn't. Especially in this recipe. For starters, you only use the yolks in the custard, so you already have three whites laying around: this recipe is economical. And don't be afraid of meringue! All it takes is a little elbow grease (the hard way) or a machine (the easy way), and if you can't muster the strength to whisk for five minutes, then you probably shouldn't be eating this anyway (not fat-shaming, just saying stamina is important if you want to bake)
Now for putting it all together, which is something I used to detest before starting this project, but is actually what I'm looking forward to more and more. It's kind of fun to have your various components all laid out, ready to put into a final dish in which the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Construction here is simple: spread the jam on the custard--and remember to be careful here. While this is a sturdier custard than most, it's still delicate, so if you spread the jam out with the same reckless abandon as frosting on a cake or butter on bread, you're going to mix the jam in with the custard and it will become a mess. Not that mixing the jam in would taste any different, but Mary Berry would most certainly not approve of your technique.
Finally, pipe or spoon the meringue on top and bake for another short span of time to brown the marshmallow goodness. To be honest, my meringue was too runny (especially after watching Mary's Master Class), but so long as it doesn't overflow your dish and make a mess in your oven, I don't see how that would make much of a difference.
Honestly, I'm happy I got to use this baking dish. I am usually very particular when it comes to my cookware: I always buy All-Clad and ScanPan (even if it means I buy fewer pans), I always consult Cook's Illustrated for any of my tools, and I appreciate the value bright colored Le Creuset dishes bring to my kitchen. And while this is a very handsome dish, I have no idea who made it or where it came from. It was my Grandma's baking dish, back from who-knows-what-year when she used to bake. I'll save a special entry to talk about her and how she influenced my love of cookery, but suffice to say I get giddy whenever I can use something of hers in my kitchen. Most often, it's her well-annotated copy of the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, but using this dish was a genuine pleasure.
And so we arrive at the taste. It was far better than I expected. Contrary to what I said earlier about the jam, the homemade jam here really did the trick. The custard was firm, as I've said earlier, but it was also rich, and the sweet tartness of a homemade jam (most commercial jams are far too sweet) cut through the richness in a way that was a perfect complement. And don't even get me started on meringue. I am one of the biggest marshmallow fans you will ever meet, and would (and often do) eat marshmallow desserts (such as meringue--cooked or uncooked) alone. This topping, with its crunch exterior and its still soft and pillowy interior, gave the textural element that was needed to keep this dessert from being a boring experience for my mouth. Yes, this dish has multiple steps and components and needs care in construction, but it's honestly no more difficult than baking cookies. I highly recommend you trying it, and I hope this inspires you to do so. I know I never would have thought to make a queen of puddings were it not for this challenge, so let me be your test monkey and say that this is definitely worth it.
Queen of Puddings
makes one dish, serves 8
2 cups (600 milliliters) (1 pint) MILK
25 grams (1 ounce) (1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons) BUTTER
1 zest LEMON
50 grams (2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
3 large EGG YOLKS
75 grams (3 ounces) BREADCRUMBS
200 grams (7 ounces) FRESH FRUITS [or, 500 grams FROZEN FRUITS]
200 grams (7 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
3 large EGG WHITES
175 grams (6 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
1. Preheat the oven to 325F and grease a shallow ovenproof dish that can fit into a roasting tin or deep pan
2. Warm the MILK in a small saucepan
3. To the milk, add the BUTTER, LEMON ZEST, and SUGAR, and stir until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted
4. Lightly whisk the EGG YOLKS in a bowl, and slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the eggs, starting with a splash and whisking, then pouring the rest in gradually to create a custard base
5. Sprinkle the BREADCRUMBS over the base of the buttered dish
6. Pour the custard base over the breadcrumbs and let stand 15 minutes
7. Transfer the dish to a roasting tin or pan and fill it halfway with hot water
8. Bake the custard for 25-30 minutes, or until the custard has set, then remove from the oven to cool a little
1. Put the mixed FRUIT into a pan and warm over gentle heat until softened and they begin to release their juice
2. Add the SUGAR to the fruit and cook for 3 minutes
3. Heat the mixture gently until you have a jam-like consistency (heat longer if using frozen berries, as they will release more liquid)
1. Whisk the EGG WHITES on high until stiff peaks form
2. Add the SUGAR gradually, while continuing to whisk on high until the mixture is stiff and shiny
1. Heat oven to 300F
2. Spread the fruit jam over the custard in a thin layer (note: you'll probably only use half of the jam that the recipe above makes)
3. Place the meringue on top of the jam-covered custard in heaping spoons to cover the top, or pipe in large dollops, making sure there are peaks and valleys of meringue across the whole surface of the dish
4. Return the pudding to the oven for 25-30 minutes until the meringue is pale golden all over and slightly crisp
5. Serve warm and fresh from the oven or the next day, optionally with light or heavy cream drizzled on top
This week was a disaster. The pictures below look pretty, but making this pie was a nightmare. It was a bake made out of obligation, that I had to make twice out of obligation to this project (not because it tasted good).
The hot water crust is why I had to make it twice. If you'll remember, I was introduced to hot water crusts back in season 2, with the pork pie, which was a delightful project that introduced me to quail eggs. The hot water crust was a novelty then, and it was baked in a muffin tin. The hot water crust here was not quite as quaint. And it does not get baked in a muffin tin.
The hand-raised pie is special because it is not baked in a baking tin of any sort, but a free-standing container of dough that holds a filling, both of which are baked simultaneously. if you haven't ever worked with crust dough, particularly a very fatty dough such as a hot water crust, let me warn you that it is slippery and wet, and does not generally like to stand on its own.
Thus, I had to make it twice. The first time, perhaps I had too much water, or too much lard (is there such a thing?), but it would just sag when I tried to release it from the glass I was molding it around. The key is to chill the dough thoroughly, and let the fats harden until you can more or less mold the dough into whatever shape you like.
So, the dough was difficult to work with, but thanks to the pork pies, I knew it would be a halfway decent tasting dough. But in preparing the filling, here's where things turn sour. Chicken? Cool. Bacon? Sweet. Thyme? Herbaceous.
Enter the dried apricot. First of all, does anybody actually like dried apricot? Second of all, do they like it in a savory, meaty dish? I was dubious, and unlike when I've been dubious in the past, I was actually correct this time.
Dried apricot did nothing to help this dish. It added this odd sweetness that infiltrated the filling, making the chicken and bacon lose their meaty quality and take on a pungent sour flavor. I could tell the potential was there wish the savory, meaty filling, but it was masked by this cloud of dried fruit.
Despite this failure in flavor, and now that I look back on the baking experience two days later, I am glad to have stuck it out and finished. I mean, even on GBBO, sometimes contestant have to start over from scratch, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. And sometimes their flavors suck, and that's nothing to be ashamed of (though I suppose I expected more in terms of flavor profile from a Paul Hollywood recipe). Making a hand-raised pie was a true challenge, and I can't imagine the bakers on GBBO having to do this without a full recipe and YouTube tutorials handy--if someone can find the episode online for me, I'd love to watch it.
Things I would do differently next time? Leave out the apricot, for godssakes!! But additionally, don't be afraid to rest the dough in the fridge for as long as you like. I left it to chill 20 minutes before sculpting, and I wish I had let it hang out another 10. And I would have chilled the filled pastries in the fridge as well, so that they might have kept the crimped edge I was so proud of (and so the pie in the back wouldn't have sagged so badly).
But overall, a dish well worth knowing how to make. As I mentioned in the pork pie post, savory pies made with hot water crusts are meant to be durable and last, easily made in advance to take with you to the coal mine (er... cubicle farm). These are the technical bakes, which means the point is to stretch your technical prowess and learn new techniques. The filling is truly secondary to learning how to make a free-standing, hand-raised pie crust. And that skill I could see coming in handy, should I ever become a coal miner. Or a contestant on The Great British Bake Off (or The Great American Baking Show -- Mary, call me?)
makes 2 individual pies
240 grams (8 1/2 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) (3 1/2 tablespoons) BUTTER
1/2 cup (130 milliliters) (4 1/4 fluid ounces) WATER
1 teaspoon SALT
60 grams (2 1/4 ounces) LARD
1 large EGG, for egg wash
300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) CHICKEN, cut into chunks
300 grams (10 1/2 ounces) BACON, cut into chunks
2 sprigs THYME
240 grams (8 1/2 ounces) DRIED APRICOTS, chopped
SALT and PEPPER
1. In a large bowl, combine the FLOUR and BUTTER and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
2. Mix together the WATER, SALT, and LARD in a small saucepan and heat until the lard melts
3. Pour the lard mixture on top of the flour mixture, stirring with a spoon until everything comes together
4. Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and bring it together into a ball, then divide into two equal pieces and chill in the fridge about 20 minutes, until firm
5. Prep your area--take two drinking glasses or jars, and flour the outside of them, and flour your work surface and a rolling pin
6. Take one of your chilled doughs and reserve 1/4, then place the remainder on the work surface, then take the drinking glass or jar and press it down into the dough until the bottom is about 1/4" in thickness.
7. Use your hands to gently press the dough up the sides of the glass, rotating the glass and applying pressure to keep the dough from falling--if you notice it not holding its shape, chill the dough more so it becomes stiffer
8. Roll out the reserved 1/4 of the dough into a circle with a diameter slightly larger than the drinking glass and poke a hole in the center
9. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, and chill in the fridge about 20 minutes
10. Preheat the oven to 400F
11. Keeping the proteins separate, season the CHICKEN and BACON with SALT, PEPPER, and THYME
12. Dealing with one crust at a time, remove the drinking glass or jar by lightly rubbing your finger between the dough and the glass and lifting the glass out
13. Pack the filling into the pie with a layer of bacon, a layer of chicken, and a layer of APRICOTS, and repeating until the crust is full
14. Place the lid on the crust, seal the edges, and crimp with two fingers and a thumb
15. Brush the lids and sides of the crust with the EGG WASH, place on a baking tray, and cook for 50-60 minutes, until the pastry is browned and crisp
16. Leave to cool and serve room temperature
With such a fancy French name, you'd think this week would bring us a complicated recipe that would take three days and involve at least 5 pounds of butter. After making the crème caramel, however, I believe the name is a misnomer. There are basically three ingredients to this dish, and "creme" is generous. A better name, in my opinion, would be "diet flan."
I approached this recipe thinking I was to be making a flan, which I am well-acquainted with, as my mother-in-law makes quite possibly the best leche flan on the face of the planet. Hers is Filipino in origin, using sweetened condensed milk. Others I've eaten have been Mexican, using heavy cream or half-and-half, and solely the yolk of the egg.
This one was different. It used the whole egg: yolk and white. And it called for just 1 tablespoon of sugar per ramekin in the custard. And it called for milk--regular milk. Not sweetened condensed. Not heavy cream. Not even half-and-half. 3.25% fat milk. What I put in my coffee in the morning. Could this really be rich enough to be classified as dessert?
Just a few tips in making this: make sure you don't let your caramel get too dark (I cooked mine a little too much -- aim for a dark copper, not a near-burnt sugar), let it cool in the ramekins at room temperature so the sugar doesn't get soggy, and cool the custard at room temperature once out of the oven (if you throw it into the fridge too soon, you'll get brains like in the last picture in this post). The one tricky part is the same whenever you're cooking custard: knowing when it's done. What you're looking for is an outside rim that is set, and a center that jiggles, but does is not liquid. With this one, it's better to slightly overcook than undercook, but try to take it out just when the center is jiggling.
The result was actually quite delicious. Was it my mother-in-law's leche flan? Of course not. But it wasn't terrible. And it didn't overload me on sugar or fat and make me feel sluggish. It gave me the mild sugar rush I need at the end of the meal, without making me crave more. I stand by that this is a diet flan. But it's not in the same vein as a diet cake, which tastes like cardboard. This is actually worth eating.
makes 6 individual ramekins
160 grams (6 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
6 tablespoons WATER
BUTTER, for greasing the ramekins
4 large EGGS
1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT
25 grams (1 ounce) GRANULATED SUGAR
2 cups (600 milliliters) WHOLE MILK
BOILING WATER, for the water bath
HEAVY CREAM, for finishing
1. Preheat oven to 300F and put the ramekins in the oven on a sheet pan
2. Pour the 160 grams of GRANULATED SUGAR and the WATER into a saucepan and dissolve the sugar slowly over a low heat
3. Keep the heat on low and do not stir, as the mixture starts boiling and turns a dark copper color
4. Remove the pan immediately so the caramel doesn't burn and distribute evenly into the warmed ramekins
5. Leave the ramekins out on the countertop to cool completely, until the caramel is hard (do not cool in the fridge, as the sugar will absorb moisture and not harden)
6. Once cooled, butter the sides of the ramekins
1. Whisk the EGGS, VANILLA EXTRACT, and SUGAR together into a bowl until well mixed
2. Pour the MILK into a saucepan and heat over low heat until hot to the touch, but not boiling
3. Pour the heated milk over the egg mixture, while whisking, and continue to whisk quickly until smooth
4. Sieve the custard mixture to separate any egg that may have scrambled
5. Pour the custard evenly into each of the ramekins and place them on a wet paper towel in a baking dish
6. Pour the boiling water into the baking dish until the water reaches halfway up the sides (this is easiest to do with the oven rack pulled halfway out and the dish placed on the rack, so you can just carefully push the rack in, instead of having to carry a dish of boiling water to the oven)--be careful not to get any of the water in the ramekins
7. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the custard has set around the edges, and is jiggly but not liquid in the center
8. Take the baking dish out of the oven and use tongs to carefully lift the ramekins out of the water and onto a cooling rack
9. Cool completely at room temperature (lest you want your custard bottoms to look like a brain, below), then place in the fridge to chill at least four hours (or overnight)
10. To serve, run a paring knife under hot water and dry the knife, then slip the knife around the edges of the ramekin to loosen; place a serving dish on top of the ramekin and quickly flip dish right side-up, then optionally pour heavy cream over the top
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
WANT TO STAY UPDATED? EMAIL
TO SUBSCRIBE TO UPDATES and
receive an email for every