Crèma Cata­lana

(TOF­FEE-TOPPED CUS­TARD) ORIGIN: TAR­RAG­ONA

QT Magazine - - FOOD, WINE, AND COFFEE - Recipes and im­ages from Coast­line by Lu­cio Galetto and David Dale (Murdoch Books).

Serves 6

We hate to di­min­ish any Cata­lan achieve­ment, but we might have to credit the French with the idea of burn­ing sugar on top of a rich cus­tard. A recipe very sim­i­lar to this ap­pears, un­der the name crème brûlée, in a French cook­book pub­lished in 1691. In the 19th Cen­tury the English started calling it “Trin­ity pud­ding” be­cause it was a spe­cial­ity of the chef at Trin­ity Col­lege, Cam­bridge. The French con­fuse the is­sue by re­fer­ring to the cus­tard un­der the topping as crème anglaise (English cream, though it’s un­likely to have been an An­glo in­ven­tion). What the Cata­lans did was add orange zest to a recipe that was orig­i­nally flavoured only with vanilla, which was an in­spi­ra­tion be­cause the sharp­ness of the orange cuts through the rich­ness of the cus­tard. They de­clared it to be one of the meat­less dishes to be eaten on Saint Joseph’s Day (March 19). Their name for it is crema cre­mada (cre­mated cream). caramelised,The best wayto max­imiseto serve this the dish con­trastis im­me­di­ately­be­tween hot af­ter crunchythe sugar tof­fee has and been cool smooth cus­tard. But it’s al­most as good served at room tem­per­a­ture later that day. Orig­i­nally the sugar on top of the cus­tard was turned into tof­fee by the ap­pli­ca­tion of a hot iron. Please do not at­tempt this at home, if you in­tend ever to press your clothes again.

In­gre­di­ents

700 ml thin (pour­ing) cream 125 ml milk 1 cin­na­mon stick 1 vanilla bean, split length­ways, seeds scraped 3 tea­spoons lemon zest 3 tea­spoons orange zest 8 egg yolks.

Method

450 Pre­heatml ca­pac­ity,the ovenin a to bak­ing 140°C dish (275°F). lined Place with twoa tea large towel. ramekins, each about In a saucepan, com­bine the cream, milk, cin­na­mon stick, vanilla bean pods and seeds, and the lemon and orange zest. Bring to the boil, then re­move from the heat and al­low to in­fuse for 10 min­utes. Strain through a fine sieve, into a clean saucepan. In a large heat­proof bowl, mix to­gether the egg yolks and the sugar un­til creamy. Bring the milk and cream back up to the boil, then pour it onto the egg yolks, one-third at a time, whisk­ing well. Strain the mix­ture through a fine-mesh sieve, into a jug. Three-quar­ters fill the ramekins with the mix­ture, then place the bak­ing dish on a shelf in the oven. Fin­ish fill­ing the ramekins to just be­low the tops, then pour hot wa­ter into the bak­ing dish, to come half­way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 30 min­utes, un­til the cus­tards are set, with a slight wob­ble in the cen­tre. You could also pour the crèma cata­lana mix­ture into six smaller ramekins, and bake the cus­tards for only about 12 min­utes, un­til there is a slight wob­ble in the cen­tre.

PHOTO: BREE HUTCHINS

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