I’ve skipped another week, not because I can’t eat treacle tart for any reason, simply because I fancied making week 4’s creme caramel first and I had the ingredients in the house. I also may have spent too much time in episode 3 utterly entranced by James’ fabulous Shetland jumper, but we shall gloss over that. After my success with plaiting I’m going to need to give lattice a whirl at some point but for now, let us enter the realms of custard, sugar, and burnt sugar.
It sounds so simple doesn’t it; make a caramel, plop it into six ramekins, make a custard to go on top and bake to set it. Hmm, well, the first hitch was the six ramekins. I’m sure I own a full set of nice white china ramekins but I could only find two in the cupboard. A third has since revealed itself to be holding sequins and seed beads but the rest remain a mystery. A scramble behind oversize hot chocolate mugs and the unused baby bottles that came with our steriliser revealed a further three ramekin-approximations, of the sought that Gu puddings may or may not arrive in, and with that we had to be content.
My first batch of caramel went from almost copper coloured to distinctly and fragrantly burnt in the very moment that I ceased peering myopically at it to give Mel’n’Sue a cuddle, and then taught me the very valuable lesson of why you don’t pour burnt but still liquid caramel into your cold sink when you need to wash up your saucepan and start again.
For reference, adding more warm water to make it very dilute would seem to be the way to go!
Well the second seemed to work out OK and I duly ladled it into our motley assortment of dishes and left it to harden while I got started on the custard.
Mel’n’Sue’s interest in the culinary proceedings had rekindled by this point so she took firm charge of the egg and sugar mixture, and it should be noted that she was not the person who dropped an egg on the floor (oops!).
In fact she was so keen on the stirring that I think she felt that I was crashing her party a little when I reclaimed the mixing bowl to add the warm milk. Perhaps it was that frustration, or perhaps we’re harbouring a budding Heston Blumenthal, whatever the reason, before I knew what was happening, a tiny hand reached across the bowl, and gently scattered a handful of porridge oats into our creme.
That never happened on the telly. Wouldn’t you’ve loved to have seen Mary and Paul’s faces though if one of the competing bakers with scrambled egg puddings turned around and said “well it was going perfectly, until I added the porridge”. Shades of cookbooks with their pages stuck together perhaps.
Now armed with a perfect excuse if it all went horribly wrong, I sieved the custard and poured as much as possible into the ramekins and set them to bake.
And apart from momentary uncertainty about the setting point of custard, that really should be the end of the story until a magnificent and triumphant turn out several hours later. But I’ll tell you another thing the GBBO contestants don’t have to worry about; an oven that is decidedly disapproving of a bain marie.
If my oven gets a bit too steamy it decides that I’ve flooded it, and it trips the power. Not just the power to the oven mind, the power to the whole house. The sort of power trip that requires an ungainly scramble into the undercupboard and a battle with the resident spider population to reset it.
It tripped three times in the 25 minutes of cooking time. I may need to clean my oven.
But eventually, with a bit of hit and miss timing I retrieved five creamy, slightly wobbly little puddings and set them to cool.
And for my triumphant turn out? Well they spent a good few hours in the fridge (although not the overnight recommended by Mary) and with a bit of leverage with our smallest butter knife out each one plopped.
Sadly, leaving much of the caramel still firmly adhered to the inside of the ramekins. They tasted delicious though, if ever so slightly scrambled eggy, but that’s never been considered a bad thing in our house and Kit in particular was a real fan.
And the verdict? Well they turned out in one piece so I reckon I’m safe for another week, but the lack of a deep caramel colour would I suspect put me well and truly in the middle of the pack. The quest for star baker must continue.