“No-one likes to be cold in winter” says the little man on the Bunnings advert, that I am watching under a pile of sleeping bags in the Pig Palace lounge. It is freezing in our lounge. So cold that my hands are struggling to type. Moving from England I smugly thought: no more cold winters for me, so long Mud Island and your bitter cold! Boy was I wrong. Having no heaters, and what seems like no insulation, Frank and I are really feeling the cold. We bought some door snakes last night to keep out the breeze, but I forgot this morning when I was tip-toeing out in the dark, so the only thing the snakes have managed to keep out is me!
Apparently it is the coldest week since 1983. And all I want to do is eat (for insulation purposes only, I promise.) I haven’t made a crème brûlée since I added 4 times more sugar than needed to the mix when I was 20, so I thought it’s been long enough for the horror to wear off. But, this crème brûlée is made with a twist. Lemons again? Yes indeed, I’m afraid a lot of my recipes will be lemon-based until I’ve finished the enormous pile of lemons on the dining room floor!
I used tea cups for this recipe in place of ramekins, and I halved the recipe as I only wanted to make enough for Frank and me. Frank gets worried when the fridge is full of sweets, and when I demand that he eat them before they go off!
Lemon creme brulee – adjusted from recipe on BBC Good Food website
426ml double cream
zest of 1 lemon
100ml full-fat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
5 large egg yolks
50g golden caster sugar , plus extra for the topping
Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Sit four 175ml ramekins in a deep roasting tin at least 7.5cm deep (or a large deep cake tin), one that will enable a baking tray to sit well above the ramekins when laid across the top of the tin. Pour the two cartons of cream into a medium pan with the milk. Put the lemon zest and extract into the cream mixture and set aside.
Put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric hand whisk until paler in colour and a bit fluffy. Add the lemon juice. Put the pan with the cream on a medium heat and bring almost to the boil. As soon as you see bubbles appear round the edge, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so. Set a fine sieve over a large wide jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through to strain it. Using a big spoon, scoop off all the pale foam that is sitting on the top of the liquid (this will be several spoonfuls) and discard. Give the mixture a stir.
Pour in enough hot water (from the tap is fine) into the roasting tin to come about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the hot cream into the ramekins so you fill them up right to the top – it’s easier to spoon in the last little bit. Put them in the oven and lay a baking sheet over the top of the tin so it sits well above the ramekins and completely covers them, but not the whole tin, leaving a small gap at one side to allow air to circulate. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is softly set. To check, gently sway the roasting tin and if the crème brûlées are ready, they will wobble a bit like a jelly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.
Lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set them on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes only, then put in the fridge to cool completely. This can be done overnight without affecting the texture.
When ready to serve, wipe round the top edge of the dishes, sprinkle 1½ tsp of caster sugar over each ramekin and spread it out with the back of a spoon to completely cover (Anne Willan’s tip for an even layer). Spray with a little water using a fine spray (the sort you buy in a craft shop) to just dampen the sugar – then use a blow torch to caramelise it. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep moving it round and round until caramelised. Serve when the brûlée is firm, or within an hour or two.