When I put custard on my baking bucket list, I had no idea it could be so creamy and sweet. When I thought of a baked custard, I envisioned something akin to quiche with a distinctly “eggy” flavor and texture. A cinnamon-sprinkled quiche. Just the thought gets my gag reflex going.
But I thought it would be a good baking experience. And the British bakers on GBBO seemed to be quite familiar with baking it, so somebody must like eating it.
Can I make a confession? I didn’t really know what custard was.
Apparently, custard is just a blend of eggs, milk or cream, and usually sugar. It’s heated, either on the stove or baked in the oven, to cook the eggs.
It can take the pourable form of a dessert sauce, such as creme anglaise (more on that another time), a smooth, spreadable texture, such as pastry cream, or it can be baked into a more solid state, even thicker than pudding, like in this crème brulee.
I have a long-time friend to whom I’ll be forever indebted for introducing me to crème brulee. We used to have slumber parties back in junior high, bake blueberry coffeecake from a muffin mix, and eat most of it between the two of us. We can’t get together very often now that we live in different towns, but when we do, we always bake.
She planned a weekend trip to come stay with my family and suggested that we make crème brulee.
I had never tried it before, but she was so excited about it, I figured it was worth a shot. One spoonful of the thick, creamy custard and crunchy caramelized sugar, and I was converted. I may have licked the dish. Okay, maybe I just scooped out every possible bit with my spoon, but I should have licked it.
It was smooth and lightly sweetened. Sort of like whipped cream, but far richer. And the crust of sugar on top adds a crunch to every mouthful.
It was surprisingly easy to make… as long as you have some ramekins, a blow torch, and a good amount of time. My friend had a special crème brulee set with special water bath equipment, but I made it again the next week without one, and it was just as easy, especially since she left her blow torch.
I’m looking forward to trying a non-torch version, as well as some flavor variations. Right as soon as my hips recover from my last batch…