(TOFFEE-TOPPED CUSTARD) ORIGIN: TARRAGONA
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.
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.
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.