Did we break the internet? I know I might not have the power of Kim Kardashian but my source for Bake Off episodes on DailyMotion is gone! Did all of us baking enthusiasts flood the site and tip off the powers that be? I am neurotic and slightly self-absorbed so to me, this seems the only explanation. Either way, they are gone and with them my beloved Masterclasses. How will I survive the rest of these challenges without the coaching of Paul and Mary? Not very well is my guess. Especially when this week I was faced with a recipe that included, one – caramel, two – whole egg custard and three – a bain marie! I felt like a real bake off contestant because I had no idea what I was doing!
I was most afraid of the making caramel so I procrastinated by mixing the eggs and sugar etc. together. A task that should take anyone about 30 seconds to complete and I managed to drag it out for a good 15 minutes. I had to take the perfect picture and, weigh my sugar just right and, you know, not boil sugar and water to an inevitable bitter mess. But eventually the sugar was weighed and the eggs cracked.
I had to face it. It was time to make caramel. I don’t know why this freaked me out so much. I have boiled sugar and water before with reasonable success but there is just something about when it starts to change colour that seems doomed for failure. And there is that whole thing about it crystalizing. From what I’ve read/seen/heard if even a granule of sugar is on the side of the pot the rest of the syrup freaks out and the whole thing turns into the Dark Crystal. It just seems nearly impossible. But what is this blog for if not conquering baking phobias.
Several deep breaths later I had my sugar on the burner. I had the ring set to low and my wooden spoon in hand (because Mary said to use a wooden spoon so that’s what I used). I stirred and stirred for what felt like ages and eventually the granules dissolved. Except roughly a thousand gains (can you call them grains) that were clinging to the side of the pot. Panic stricken I grabbed a brush and washed them back into the syrup. I did this as fast as possible since I was sure at any moment the whole thing would crystalize. Well, I needn’t of been concerned because nothing was happening. I mean nothing. I had a pot of sweet water. And it stayed that way for ages. So long in fact I started documenting the sluggish caramel process.
Remember I didn’t start taking these pics until I got bored of waiting, so I think it’s safe to say my whole caramel making process took close to an hour. I don’t think the bakers spent an hour making their caramel on Bake Off. I’m sure I should have just turned up the heat but my caramel confidence was in the toilet and I was getting a nice sugar steam facial. Oh, and PS, in the end I still burnt it a bit.
I poured my caramel into ramekins that for once in my life are the right size and number and let the whole mess cool.
Heating the milk, on the other hand, was so fast. I think it took about a minute for it to get close to boiling. I was so caught off guard with how fast it happened I completely forgot the sieve the milk before adding it to the eggs. But it seemed fine.
Custard done and ontop of the caramel it was time for the bain marie. I had everything in my roasting pan and a kettle of water boiled. I poured the water in and it only came a quarter inch on the ramekins. So I got caught in a space time continuum where I needed to boil more water but the water already in the roasting pan was heating the custard but it wasn’t fully in the oven and the oven door was open because I was questioning everything. Ahhh! Eventually the second kettle boiled and I poured it in and put it all in the oven.
I baked them for around 28 minutes and tried my best to judge the appropriate amount of wobble for a custard to have. One swipe of a knife around the edges and a well timed flip and I had an impressive looking creme caramel.
I said impressive looking, remember the name of this post. Again I hate to come off as an uncivilized Canadian but this was not my taste. Or really any of my family’s. My 3-year-old nephew took one look and said “don’t like that” my husband took one bite and said the same. My ever supportive brother in law said it was “interesting” but my saintly sister ate it up (I should qualify that she is pregnant and is operating with a less than discerning palate). It truly did taste like milk jello with a bit of mildly burnt caramel on top, just kind of bland. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure it is delicious if prepared by a pastry chef or Mary Berry or if that is your taste in dessert. It was light and creamy, but sometimes you just need a dessert to be a little less posh and alot more comforting. Excuse me while I go pig out on anything funfetti I can get my hands on.