Crème brûlée

A timeless classic that works so fluently at dinner parties. I’ve been making these for many years, but this is the first time that my little boy Felix has got involved. At his special request, we made Crème brûlée together and adapted the recipe that has been scribbled in my notebook since 2009.

Ingredients:

(makes about 8)

  • 500ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod (or 1tsp good vanilla paste)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100g caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 140°C (non-fan).
  2. Pour the cream into a pan, add the split, scraped and chopped vanilla, and then gently bring to the boil and simmer to infuse.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy.
  4. Slowly whisk in the hot vanilla infused cream.
  5. Sieve the mixture into ramekins, removing the pieces of vanilla pod, if using.
  6. Place the ramekins into a tray and fill halfway with hot water (Bain marie).
  7. Carefully slide the tray into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow the brûlée to cool to room temperature. They can now be stored in the fridge until your ready to serve.
  9. Sprinkle a little demerara sugar on top and caramelise with a blow torch or under a hot grill to form a thin, crisp shell.

Alternative flavourings such as pistachio are delicious, and I’ve also tried adding fresh raspberries before baking.

creme brulee or more accurately Crème brûlée

Tarta de Santiago

The cake of Saint James – a medieval masterpiece that pairs perfectly with a mid-morning cortado coffee.

Its exact origins and specific recipe are long gone in the winds of time, but the celebration of the patron saint of Spain continues, especially on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and in the Galician capital Santiago de Compostela.

I’m not a huge fan of cakes or even baking them, but this simple gluten-free almond recipe has me hooked. It feels a touch more, grown-up.  I’ve spent a while experimenting and have finally settled on this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • zest of 1 unwaxed orange
  • zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • icing sugar to dust

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C fan)
  2. Grease and line an 8 or 9-inch springform baking tin.
  3. Separate the egg yolks and whites.
  4. Whisk the yolks with the golden caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
  5. Mix in the almonds, zest and extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  7. Gently combine the two mixtures and fill your baking tin.
  8. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.
  9. Rest the cake in its tin for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

cooling down the tarta de santiago10. When completely cool, dust the top of the cake using icing sugar and a stencil of the cross of Saint James.

youngling dusting the tarta de santiago

Serve with a little crème fraîche if you like. I certainly do.