Monday, 30 April 2012

!!!

Oh my! XD An incredible idea just hit me as I lay in bed muttering the injustice of evil headaches. Can't wait to try it out this weekend!!!
Shall also be incredibly peeved if someone somehow latched on and makes this before me...I wants to be first!

roasted rice and soya mousse layered cake

I mentioned in my previous post the singular light and fluffiness of a sponge, which is almost on par of that with a chiffon despite not beating the eggwhites separately. True, it is not as soft either, but the use of butter over vegetable oil in a traditional chiffon yields definite improvements in the area of taste.

Anyway, the origins of this little sponge aren't too inspired- it was the product of a little mishap in the kitchen during a practical at LCB. For some odd reason, I decided to tamper with bits of the recipe, while being persuaded that I was abiding by it ad pedem litterae (I don't understand it either). The resulting genoise grew and grew and grew. It took a startled comparison to the sponge next door before realisation dawned and I frantically beat up another sponge. It was a very harried time. On the other hand, the accidental sponge turned out incredibly soft and light, no doubt thanks to the disproportionate amount of egg in it.

Anyway, so here is the recipe:

LIGHTENED GENOISE
200g egg
75g castor sugar

40g egg yolk
75g soft flour

15g butter, melted


  • Whisk eggs, egg yolks and castor sugar over a bain marie until the sugar dissolves; the temperature of the batter should be around 50-60°C.
  • Take off the bain marie and continue whisking until ribbon stage and the batter is cool.
  • Fold in the the flour with a maryse.
  • Take a little batter out and whisk into the melted butter before folding the butter mix into the main batter.
  • Pour into a 16-18 diameter cake ring and bake at 175°C for 30-35min until its surface springs back when depressed.

The sponge doesn't actually look too attractive sitting unadorned (when I have the time I will post a photo of its plain little self), which was fine by me as I wanted only its fluffy texture to carry the roasted rice and soya mousse and none of the sweet crust that I so enjoy eating. However, do keep this in mind if ever you decide you want to use my recipe.

For this cake, I baked the sponge in an 18cm diameter tin, which I later sliced before using a 16cm diameter ring to trim out crustless discs to build with. Too bad I forgot about the crust on the bottom disc. On hindsight, next time I will also discard that top mousse layer altogether- the cake looks very strange with it sitting atop the crust, as well as slightly disproportionate at the teetering height it is. So forgive the poor presentation this time, it shall be improved. The next time will see a beautifully wholly pale cake.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

roasted rice and soya mousse

The roasted rice and soya mousse idea is my little baby and spiel about it I will!!! Personally I am no fan of soya- it has the oddest aftertaste and I still firmly maintain it was the reason I carefully emptied the contents of my stomach onto the marble floor one fine day many years ago. I only decided to use it after a (very tentative) sip of my boyfriend's soya latte and was pleasantly surprised by its nutty taste and the complete absences of the icky aftertaste I so objected to. Sadly I have since realised that the nuttiness was probably derived from the use of barley malt syrup rather than soya. Nevertheless, it was cause for contemplation and set the wheel trundling.

My initial idea was a matcha and soya mousse. Green tea flavoured baked edibles seem all the rage nowadays, but it is a wagon I am loathe to clamber upon. It seems a bit of a waste as so much of the fragrance and flavours of the green tea just gets smothered with everything else. Besides the unattractive greyish green it becomes, I also just get too much of the bitterness such as when tea is, horror upon horrors, boiled, which is hardly surprising considering the temperatures it has to endure in the oven. Green tea shouldn't ever be steeped in water above 70-80°C (or less, depending on its quality) so baking it is not a happy option! Green tea in icecream is another matter, as in mousse- the route I intended to traverse. However, as I eyed the miniscule tin of matcha that set my mum back a respectable 50 pounds I couldn't bring myself to have it any other way than its unadulterated form.

That's when I thought of genmai-chi! In fact, forget green tea completely, I would flavour the mousse with roasted rice. It would contribute a roasted nuttiness to compliment the soya AND pack a more robust punch that won't be easily stomped over by the soya. In fact, it might even take away the nasty soya aftertaste (it does, and I am so glad for it). It took several attempts to get this right- creaminess, set and flavour- and also a whole bag of organic brown rice that I painstakingly roasted and steeped in hot water then reduced only to find that the rice flavour was still too faint, but that there is a wonderful vietnamese product of powdered roasted rice (bot thinh gao) that does the job admirably. On the right is a comparison photo of the mousse when the home-made roasted rice tea was used. The mousse was a brilliant white and only the soya could be tasted. Note the lovely lightness of the sponge, more on which will be said in the next post.

I really am ecstatic over this little recipe- it is my own and it is good!

ROASTED RICE AND SOYA MOUSSE
150ml whipping cream
400ml soya milk, unsweetened
100ml double cream250ml soya milk, sweetened
6.5g leaves gelatine, bloomed70g stock syrup

4tsp bot thinh gao


  • Reduce the soya milks to a total of 300ml.
  • Stir in 4tsp bot thinh gao and strain out any lumps.
  • Mix the creams and whip up to soft peak over and ice batch, set aside and give a light whisk every now and then.
  • Heat the stock syrup until just boiling and dissolve in the bloomed gelatine leaves.
  • Transfer to a metal round bottom bowl, mix the reduced soya milk into the stock syrup, and allow to cool to about 28-30°C, over an ice bath.
  • Whisk a third of the cream into the soya mixture and use a maryse to continuously lift the mixture so the volume in contact with the cold bowl does not start to set.
  • When the temperature of the soya mixture reaches around 20°C, beat the cream to medium peaks and fold into soya mixture over 2 incorporations.
  • Continue to lift the mousse with the maryse over the ice bath until it reaches its setting point, then fill mousse ringes etc and refridgerate.

NB- soya milk can and does curdle if heated and in acidic conditions. This isn't the case here but its good to know that if ever you decide to pour steaming hot coffee into cold soya milk.

In the cake above, I piped out (hence the non-straight surfaces) some of my extra chocolate biscuit sponge mix, from the mango and caramel charlotte, which I then baked and used a mousse ring to cut out 80mm squares. These were stacked inside the mould with 45g of the mousse between each sponge square. I over-torched the mould while removing it and smeared the mousse up over the edges of the cake layers; a slice of the inside was much prettier.

Friday, 27 April 2012

mango and caramel chocolate charlotte

This charlotte is very similar to the mango and chocolate entremet a few posts back except I decided to use a chocolate sponge lining. So instead of the labour intensive method of baking a sheet of sponge, slathering ganache over it, then stacking and chopping up strips to line the tart with, I sifted cocoa powder into the flour that was then folded into the meringue and blanched yolks, and piped out the lining. It looks neater too- no smears of ganache as in the entremet. I also dropped the streusal.

Lastly, I decided to use caramel in the mousse. Normally the recipe calls for a certain volume of stock syrup. Rather than using that, I prepared a caramel using the same equivalent quantity of sugar as in the syrup after which I added the corresponding volume of water. A recurring theme with the mousses is that the flavouring is somewhat elusive, and so I made sure the caramel was very dark (though a comparison with the previous mango entremet doesn't show a discernable darkening of the mousse). I used the correct size mousse ring this time round, so the charlotte has much cleaner edges than before, though still far from perfect.

This post had taught me a what-not-to-do lesson by way of food photograph: busy backgrounds are bad. Next time I will get a tablecloth or put the cakes where I can get big block colours. I am actually quite fond of the windowsill option (especially the shot in the previous post of the frasier where you can see a double reflection of the side profile of the cake- now if only the window were cleaner), but its good to have a variety I think, and fun besides, so I won't be overusing that spot. Tablecloths and napkins are the way forward!

(note to self- don't stick toes in photos)

wetfoot fundraising cakes

I have been pretty productive yesterday and churned out a few cakes for the Wetfoot fundraising event. Wetfoot allows members of All Souls Church to wet their feet in the mission field by organising 'short-term cross-cultural' missions. This year the team will be heading to Hungary. As with many things in this world, funding is an issue and hence this little money raising event. Admittedly I do have an ulterior motive to my apparent generosity- I just want to practise making cakes (and I didn't even pay for the ingredients). It is a very agreeable thing that the cakes will go on to occasion better things than making me fat. God bless the Wetfoot peoples and I hope they raise a hefty sum.

My donations, starting at the bottom left and moving clockwise-round are a: Frasier (exam piece at LCB, thus the need for practise), mango and caramel chocolate charlotte, roasted rice and soya mousse layered sponge, and mille feuille (to practise the creme mousseline filling and also so I may have crushed puff pasty with milk for breakfast XD). The charlotte and layered sponge cakes (my particular little darling of the lot) will have their own little moments of glory in a later post.

The last square cake was made from the extra chocolate sponge, from the charlotte, and soya and rice mousse. It was not donated but kept for the personal delight (I hope) of my brother who kindly delivered my cakes to All Souls Church.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

mango and mint chocolate entremet

My second birthday cake order! Hopefully the good ladies having this will be enjoy it. This time I made sure to taste it too- creamy mango mousse is awesome!

Sadly, no pictures of its interior could be obtained, so a brief description will suffice. I used a biscuit sponge spread with a lightly mint infused ganache for the lining. Building up from the bottom is some mango mousse, a layer of almond streusel (almond goes with mango better than walnut or pecan I think), more mango mousse, a disc of biscuit sponge and a last layer of mango mousse. It is topped with a plain chocolate ganache. No mint in this layer as one of my pet hates is when the mint flavour is so strong it overpowers everything. As it is, you just get the faintest whiff of it, which doesn't 'leak' into the other components. It is finished with a film of clearmango flavoured jelly made from the syrup of tinned mangos. Those tinned mangos were to make a base layer of fruit along the sponge lining, but were a sore disappointment and had to be discarded. I didn't realise tinned mangoes would be so squishy- they literally disintegrated between the tines of the fork when I tried to pick them up.

The streusel was a last minute decision that I adopted after my trial day at a kitchen on Thursday: the 'interview'. It was quite the eye-opening experience. It has also made me appreciate LCB all the more. Mine was no mean establishment but still the contrast was clear. At LCB, we really are pampered, surrounded by ever helpful kitchen porters, brand new equipment and an abundance of Jantex rolls and D10 sanitizers. Anyway, besides memorizing the recipes for two sorbets and a gluten free bread I 'helped' prepare, I also tried various chocolates, the said gluten free bread, a salty peanut and chocolate moule, and the point of this conversation: a layered creation of passionfruit creme, finely diced mangos in a pureed mango and lime sauce, streusel and a lime sorbet sprinkled with limey sugar. It almost made me switch from mint to lime (and if I made a lime infused Valrhona Tanori ganache I'm sure it would be yum!).

Unfortunately I only had a deep 6.5cm ring, which meant I couldn't flatten out the mousse or ganache as I would have liked, hence the wobbly and unclean edges. Good news though, I finally realised how to do those mini leaf bits of the piping. It is like a dot, gone bad with a tail, that you just drag along. Yays. This little bit of practise ought to be useful for the piping assessment I will have tomorrow, and also a good chance to try making a marzipan rose prior to the practical.

Bubbling full of ideas now thanks to Thursday's fun!

I just received a bit of feedback on the cake. It seems the mango isn't strong enough to be recognizable =(. I thought it was alright when I tasted it, but perhaps that is because I knew to look for mango. I shall reduce the puree down before using it next time.

Also, some people were allergic to nuts >_<

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

omnomnom@koya

Phew, the applications are submitted, the tests completed, the weather lovely and cold-ish, and all that remains is the 'interview' tomorrow. No wonder then that I am experiencing a smug contentment. As yet, I haven't the time to fritter away pottering around the kitchen, but this brief hiatus has resulted in a backlog of edibles I want to try my hand at and will, come this weekend: my second birthday cake order has trickled in and I have decided to attempt a mango and mint chocolate charlotte. In the meanwhile, as the novelty of blogging lingers still, I present to you: Koya!


I actually went there a good week and a half ago, but the impression remains. Koya serves udon as it ought to be. None of those flaccid specimens, congealed in an unappealing wodge, so often served up that it ingrained in me a healthy antipathy towards udon. But at Koya, the udon has a springy bite- it holds together and has texture! It does not have that horrid gummy surface that comes from improper washing either. See now, my beautiful bowl of udon! I have been rather fixated on this dish actually. The hiyashi buta miso (cold udon with a cold pouring sauce with pork and miso paste) is just so good the perceived opportunity cost of not ordering it is simply too great to contend with. I do also end up spooning up the dipping sauce at the bottom of my bowl, incorrect if it may be. Salty heaven indeed! In fact, these visits to Koya always remind me of an age-old intention of boiling up and freezing away some kaeshi for the dreaded summer months to come.

Another popular appearance at my table is the kakuni (braised pork belly with cider). Koya seems to have a habit for dispelling lifetime aversions. I am no fan of chowing down fat but with the kakuni, I suddenly saw the appeal. The tangy sweetness from the cider also does an excellent job in 'lightening' the dish. It is all a bit misleading. I can see the glaze of oil over the meat and sauce, but it does not taste as oily or heavy as you might expect.

My favourite last item is the onsen tamago. The menu says poached egg, but coddled egg is probably more correct. This is sous vide cooking at its happiest. I love soft boiled eggs in general, and to be presented with such a perfect cooked-but-not-quite yolk and barely opaque whites, companied with a beautifully clear dashi stock... words fail. I must must try this at home! I guess I would be looking at water bath temperatures around 65-70C (coagulation temperature of the yolks) but I'll have to look up the duration. It shall be a painful trip to the supermarket though. Bonito flakes are ridiculously expensive here. However, if I have the eggs, it would be nice to have proper dashi. Will definitely stretch the flakes out as much as possible and boil them to get a stock to use with my kaeshi.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

blueberry pasty

This is probably one of my favourite post yet; few things can beat the goodness of a lovely buttery, flaky pastry filled with bubbling fruit. For me, each mouthful conjures up images of toasty fireplaces, steaming cups of tea, and an overwhelming feeling that I am loved. Mmm... and so what if I derive so much pleasure from food?

I am not sure if there is a proper term for these. I had but one last boxful of blueberries, which was not quite sufficient for a pie so I opted for a pasty-like form instead. I used flaky pie dough rolled very thin (about 2mm), not only to ensure maximum crispiness, but also because there is so much pastry to filling. The last thing I wanted to do was stodge it down. The flaky pie dough recipe I used has been sitting in my recipe book this past decade and has, on every occasion, proven its worth (I can't quite recall the title of the book I found it in, but can easily recognise it if I saw it). There is a lot of butter in the dough, almost as much as in puff pastry. Thus it is incredibly finicky to make by hand and I tend to just whizz it up in a food processor then roll it out between clingfilm after resting it.

The blueberries were cooked (the same blueberry sauce used in the chocolate and blueberry genoise, though done drier) before being packed into approximately 7" discs of the flaky pie dough. Try not to mash the blueberries up too much while stewing them- if intact, they make a pleasant juicy pop in the mouth during the eating. Also, while it is nice to be generous, overfilling the pasties will inevitably lead to a majour berry spillage during the baking. It does help to press out all the air bubbles while forming the pasties, as does poking mini vent holes over its surface. I double egg-washed them to try get a lovely golden colour, and sprinkled granulated sugar over for crunch and some necessary sweetness.

I have been on quite a roll with my postings. However, this may be the last addition for some time. It shall be quite a busy coming week for me with extensive class timetabling at LCB, application datelines (plural!!!) to meet, and an interview to practise for. As Gluttony wailed as he was chomped in FMA: yada! >_<

lychee charlotte

I have been in a baking pit of woe since I made this fateful lychee charlotte. It was only after proudly presenting it to my supervisors that I sat down, took a bite from the leftovers, and recoiled: the mousse, which seemed more than sweet enough when I tasted it on its own, was far from it when eaten with the biscuit sponge; the bitty lychee bits from the puree were more substantial than I thought and gave the mousse a rather unpleasant mouthfeel; and lastly the high water content of the lychees, which I had not accounted for, diluted the creaminess of the mousse and also prevented the mousse from setting as well as it ought, giving it a strange texture (mushy and bitty).

I may avoid lychees for a while. But, should anyone else feel inclined to make a lychee mousse, make sure the puree is really fine and perhaps use double cream instead of whipping cream. However, for me there is one thing that cannot be resolved: lychees just do not go with cream.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

chocolate and blueberry genoise

It was my sister's boyfriend's birthday yesterday and she generously comissioned me to make this cake. What a leap of faith- thank you!!! It is my first order and, I hope, one of many more to come. This is quite the event for me as it inaugurates the sale of my cakes. Admitedly, I am still slowly trying to amass a catalogue of goodies, but mostly whatever makes the blog will be open for ordering. So, if anybody feels indulgent (in every sense of the word) drop me a request, and feel free to customize as you will! The cakes will be made to the best of my ability. However, as I'm mostly lacking in that still, it will be compensated in the astounding price of £10-£15 per cake (the proceeds of which will go to church).

Now, back to the cake. My sister was quite adamant about its non-fussiness; it was to be just a good old chocolate sponge. A slice through the middle would reveal two thinly spread layers of ganache between four slices of genoise, and a thick filling of whipped cream and blueberry sauce (? perhaps sauce isn't the right term, but it does describe how it was prepared). I spread the ganache on both sides of the genoise and, between them, arranged some toasted flaked almonds. The almonds were a last minute addition. I happened to see some salted dark chocolate by Lindt (nope, none of the high quality chocolate couveture yet) that begged to be tried. After extensive tasting, I decided it would go very happily with savory nuts.

As my sister would probably have preferred a less rich cake, I did wrestle a bit with the ganache: to whip or not to whip. Should I lighten it to her taste, or keep its lovely decadent mouthfeel? In a practise attempt of this cake, I did both. The velvety ganache went into the cake while its aerated counterpart was piped over the top. Sparingly used inside the cake, its richness would contrast to the airy chantilly cream filling without making the cake too dense. On the top of the cake the whipped ganache was to allow for easier eating given its more liberal use. However, as you can see, I dropped the ganache decoration in the final version; I ate it for breakfast instead XD.

Chocolate piping is starting to become the bane of my baking endeavours. It is a distinctive struggle and to have to pipe in cursive is a straw too much. I write in block letters that slant backwards, need I say more? To think that writing in cursive would become so important. Admittedly, I did not initially realise just what a trial would become: my first attempt in LCB during the making of 'entremet aux marrons,' depicted on the left, came out tolerably well except for an inadvertent spasm which jabbed my piping bag into the marzipan as I was finishing the 'M.'

Btw- pls excuse the poor photo, I was in a rush to pack the cake away to be taken to my sis. Sad things happened after, the cake was bopped and the sugar basket and spike melted into unsightly puddles T_T

giant eclair

There is a marvelous blog I want to link to but I'm not too sure about blogging etiquette concerning this. I've sent the author of said blog an enquiring comment and thought I would post this while waiting to hear from her.


It has been a while since I made eclairs- not since the LCB basic patisserie exam in fact. Eclairs were my draw of the straw and I thought I could scrape by. What I did not envisage were the hulk-like eclairs that spawned during the exam. Mine weren't the only victims, it seemed that quite a few in my class making eclairs was similarly stricken. One poor fellow, taking a tentative peek at the progress of his eclairs, actually staggered back in shock and clutched his chest (perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much) upon beholding the monsters within. Monsters!!!

Any Ai Yazawa fans out there should instantly recognise this expression on my eclair, occasionally presented to Takumi in the manga Nana. Forgive the blobby and non-shiny 'fondant,' and the poor piping. I was grumpy when I made this giant replica over Easter weekend and lost patience with my badly rolled piping bag. I also used some leftover fondant substitute- tried to economize by buying fondant sugar that you add water to. Unfortunately, you never get the same glossiness (it is the 'rolling fondant') and, as it had been sitting around for a while without a film of water over it, it acquired a crust that refused to dissolve away. Anyways, it makes me laugh, and I still can't bring myself to eat it/throw it away. When I can face true eclairs again, I'll probably post more acceptable specimens.

On a separate note (a niggling) there seemed to be a general consensus that eclairs were the hardest of our given recipes to make in the LCB exam by a substantial difference. It is all a little odd, like sitting the same exam but being presented different papers of varying difficulties and then not having the results weighted.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

omnomnom@amabile

This blog is pretty food orientated, and there seems no good reason why it should be limited to my home prepared attempts. I have decided then to blog on wonderful places that feed me well. These posts will not be critiques as much as me happily burbling about the delicious food I pied out on. Besides, I have pretty photos (getting there...) and why waste the opportunity of having others salivate on my behalf?

Henceforth, I introduce the concept of omnomnom- pronounced om.nom.nom (basically the sound of someone really tucking into his grub)- to my blog. If you see any headings starting omnomnom, you now know what to expect: the rumblings of an envious tummy! I personally think omnomnom is pretty cool: it is onomatopoeic AND it consists of 3 letters repeating in an endless sequence that additionally happens to be in the correct order as in the alphabet. Ho ho ho!!! Somehow, for me it also always brings to mind the sound of contented ogres feasting in the ogre mounds of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, which is probably pretty accurate imagery of actual events.

Monday, 9 April 2012

ginger pear bakewell tart

To make this, I used a pate sucree lining filled with almond cream and slices of poached pears over the top, all from LCB's secret recipes. The pears were poached in cinnamon, lemon and ginger, for a mini fragrant kick, and left in the refridgerator overnight to dry out and firm up for easier slicing. I almost tipped some ground ginger into the pate sucree too but refrained as I wasn't sure if the heat would be a little much. As an extra little twist, I also spread a generous layer of marmalade over the sucree base before piping on the almond cream. Use a thick rind marmalade to add texture and some bitterness to offset the pears (something I didn't do unfortunately). My original intention was to make some candied julienne orange peel for the decoration and to use its syrup as the nappage. However, being short on time, I settled on a marmalade nappage instead.

Sadly, I didn't get a taste of it, so it could be really awful for all my soliloquising.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

easter cake sale bake-off

So I mentioned in my previous post that I did some baking over Easter weekend for my bf's church cake sale. Here were my contributions:

Starting from the top left is mille-feuille, an unconventional circular version as taught at LCB. Its base consists of two layers of puff pastry sandwiched together with confiture for extra stability and it only has one layer of creme mousseline and strawberries before its top layer of puff pastry and fondant (yes I know, chocolate work and presentation in general needs serious work). I'm still not sure whether I like creme mousseline- my favourite of the creme patissiere derivations remains creme diplomat. Moving clockwise are the 'gougeres,' though it is probably sacrilege to call them so in this case as I used mature cheddar, instead of the traditional gruyere, in the pate choux. Next is the banana cake, of my previous post (the sliced portions were made according to the original recipe- you can see that in some parts the 'biscuit' crust has actually lifted off the cake), followed by a ginger pear and almond bakewell-esque tart, to be covered in the next post.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

banana cake

Banana cake! Munch this, all you who eschew bananas for their fuzzy slimy texture! Here lies the goodness of a banana in the squidgy and moist medium of a cake. I made it as one of my contributions to the cake sale at my bf's church this Easter weekend (the rest to be posted in good time). Mostly, I shy from tweaking recipes for the dubious creations that inevitably emerges. However, this adjustment has seen rather encouraging results.

The original recipe I used was from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'the bread bible.' I found her version rather oily, and it was denser than I would have preferred. The crispy and somewhat thick crust was very tasty, but also resembled a biscuit more than a cake, while the inside was a little tough and chewy. I must have been doing something wrong (my excuse being that I beat everything by hand instead of whipping it up with a kitchen aid). Anyway, so I wanted to lower the fat in the cake and found that substituting the sour cream for half its weight in milk led to the happy consequence of a lighter and more crumbly cake with a softer crust. I also lowered the oven tempearture to 180°C in order to get more rise before the crust sets. Above is a picture of the two cakes, modified version on the left, but don't think you can really see the difference in texture. Oh, I dislike walnuts so I've chopped them out.

Anyway, I hope this recipe works for you as it does me. Happy Easter to all and may God bless!

BANANA CAKE RECIPE


100g plain flour75g butter









2.5g baking powder75g castor sugar









2.5g baking soda115g banana









50g egg30ml milk








  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Mash the banana with milk.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Bash the butter until soft and malleable before adding the sugar and whisking until light.
  • Whisk in the eggs, over a few incorporations.
  • Alternately mix in the banana mixture and the flour with a maryse.
  • Bake for ~40 min until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

coconut and clove crème caramel

Finally!!! With the arrival of my pretty new Canon Powershot G12 I begin, kicking off with the well-loved creme caramel, or as good old Mrs. Beeton calls them, caramel custard cups

The name says it all. They are little custards baked in a (dariole) mould with a helping of caramel. Personally, I much prefer these to creme brulees, which I find just a little too heavy. Apparently creme caramel used to be the food of the invalids- served for being easily digestible. Well, the trembling wobble of the creme caramel seems worth any spell in bed. Also, it feels that too much of the pleasure of a creme brulee lies in the cracking of its sugar surface. The shards of sugar do give a nice crunchy side to the brulee, but give me the silken texture of a creme caramel anytime.

For this recipe, I substituted a fifth of the milk for coconut cream and added a little salt, about 1g salt per 100ml milk. Coconut is like meat- it needs its salt, and what a difference it does make indeed! I did think of infusing the custard with lemon grass or kaffir lime leave or something of the sort, but decided against it. A previous batch flavoured with lemon didn't go down as well as I hoped. It didn't keep with the 'mellow' and if anything, drew out the egginess in the custard. Instead, I dropped a some cloves in with sugar while making the caramel. I like cloves and think they go quite well with the burnty taste of caramel. I also used sake cups as the mould. The mini-ness adds to their quivering apprehension. ^_^

For me, the best part about this pudding is the slight saltiness that you taste at the end. The salt is so important- it really gives a special edge! Also, thanks to the coconut, the custard did not taste overly eggy despite the absence of vanilla (I have a problem with the 'over-egg' sometimes). The caramel was lovely and fragrant too; the cloves come through a brief moment before the sugar kicks in. On hindsight however, I will probably make the caramel a bit darker next time, almost to there being some bitter (it is actually too light here). I am also contemplating using a salted caramel too, but that might be overkill. Due to the coconut cream, the fat content of the creme caramel is much higher than normal, making it of comparable richness to the brulee. As a result, it takes longer to cook and produces a softer and more delicate creme caramel, which still retains a modest springiness that the brulee lacks. It MUST be eaten at room temperature. When stored in the fridge, the creme caramel becomes distinctly firm

It feels appropriate that the first thing I made at LCB (fruit salad aside) should become my first post. I am not sure what copyright laws are with respect to blogs, and I have changed the recipe after all, albeit minutely. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, I shall refrain from posting any recipes until I check it out properly. If anybody knows anything about this, do say. Till then, there are plenty of good creme caramel recipes floating about on the web- you could easily make the same substitutions as me.

I can post some tips however:

  • Shocking the caramel prevents it from further caramelization as you fill the moulds.
  • Make sure the sugar in the custard has dissolved or you will get a tell-tale ring of sugar after baking.
  • Try not to aerate the custard too much or you will get bubbles (though you can pop these by passing a blow torch over).
  • Make sure both the caramel and custard are cool before filling the moulds with custard, but do not cool the caramel in the fridge or you will get a watery residue.
  • Fill the bain marie with cold water, not hot, to prevent the caramel and custard from mixing.