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Prep time: 10 minutes, plus chilling time Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

A classic and simple French dessert that shouldn’t be messed with. I’ve used Burford Browns here, which give the custard a really deep, rich orange colour, but any hens’ eggs will be fine. You can use the egg whites for meringue or pop them in the freezer to use when making a consommé.


– 600ml double or

Jersey cream

– ½ vanilla pod,

split lengthways

– 5 egg yolks

– 25g caster sugar

– 3-4 tbsp demerara sugar, to glaze


Put the cream in a saucepan and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into it. Throw in the pod.

Gently bring to the boil, whisking every so often to infuse the milk with the vanilla, then remove from the heat and leave for about 10 minutes.

Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl until well combined, then pour the cream over them, discarding the vanilla pods.

Return the mixture to a clean, heavybotto­med or non-stick saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly until it thickens – don’t let it boil. While it cooks, give it an occasional whisk off the heat then return it to the heat.

This should take about 6-7 minutes in total, but it’s important to get in the corners of the pan and keep the custard moving.

Pour into a large, round, shallow dish or individual dishes (you want the mixture to be about 2cm deep) and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the surface of the set custard. Light a kitchen blowtorch and work the flame evenly over the sugar until it caramelise­s. If you don’t have a blow torch, put the crème under an extremely hot grill to brown. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

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