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tan319

Classic French Crème Brulée - The Topic

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Here's the recipe I use, it's from Marlene Sorosky (I forget the book title right this moment).

325F oven using a water bath.

8 cups 1/2 & 1/2

2 c. sugar

28 yolks

8 tsp. vanilla

I heat my sugar in my half and half, bring it up to a boil, turn off heat. Temper cream into eggs, strain, add vanilla and bake.

Dani Mc, it's totally normal for the time given in a recipe to be way off from what time it takes for your oven. It's not about an old oven or a poorly calibrated oven..........personally I think theres alot of mis-prints or guesses offered up in recipes. It's always best and to your advantage to know the signs of when an item is done baking so the whole timing issue doesn't worry you.

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my own humble contribution.

655g yolks

510g caster (fine) sugar

4 vanilla pods, split

1275g double cream (48% butterfat)

1275g whipping cream (40% butterfat)

240g milk

1) Scald milk, creams and pods together.

2) Mix yolks and sugar together.

3) Pour 1) on to 2), stirring until amalgamated.

Pour into standard 3.5" ramekins, place in 1/1 gastronorm tray, pour 60C water 3'/4 of the way up the ramekins, gas-gun the tops of the brulees lightly to disperse surface bubbles and cook at 110C for 45 minutes.

Works every time I've made it. The mix also works from cold, in which case cook at 105 for 55 minutes.

I agree with Chef Koo - overwhipping during the mixing of the yolks/sugar and cream mix will result in a greater chance of the mixture soufleeing.


Edited by culinary bear (log)

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Here's mine. This one is like gold, works every time.

24 oz yolks

4 whole eggs

28 oz granulated sugar

4 quarts heavy cream

2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

Whisk yolks, eggs and sugar together. Scald cream and beans together. Temper hot cream mixture into egg mixture, ladleful by ladleful. I actually whisk fairly vigorously. Strain thru chinois.

Unless i'm desperate, i chill the mixture overnight. This seems to get rid of the air bubble problem. I bake mine in 4 oz clear glass souffle cups, in a hotel pan filled with a HOT water bath, 1/3 of the way up the sides of the cups. I cover the top with a flat (never warped) sheet pan. This keeps the surface from overcooking or taking on any color. Bake in a convection oven at 300F (low fan) for about 25-35 minutes. They have to be taken out of the oven when an area in the center about the size of a quarter is still quite jiggly. Then i let them cool in the water bath out of the oven before refrigerating.

If i am desperate, i chill the mixture thoroughly over an ice bath and make the water bath a bit cooler to start. I've never had any success with recipes that call for cooking the mixture over heat like an anglaise.

I know the recipe's a really big batch (makes about 50), but i'm posting it as is because i can't vouch for how it'll behave when cut down. I usually bake about half the mixture at a time - the batter holds pretty well in the walk-in for up to 4 days. Sometime soon i'll try them in a smaller batch at home.

Most recipes don't include the additional few whole eggs. I swear by this one, and so do our guests.


Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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Now I know it wasn't me when the stove-top creme brulee didn't set. I cursed my inadequate skill and rebaked them that time.

My other problem is the top does not come out even. Spots burn before all browns. I have a cheap torch, perhaps that's the problem. Tried brolier once (unfortunately in the little toaster oven, don't know if THAT was the problem) but it would NEVER brown. I even picked them up and held them to the top and of coursed burned my hand more than the cream.

Perhaps the kind of sugar is important? Brown, regular, superfine....


"Mom, why can't you cook like the iron chef?"

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Doing a good job torching the sugar does take practice and patience. If you apply the sugar too thick I think your more likely to burn it in a spot or two before it melts. It just takes too long for the sugar to melt all the way through and it burns the top.

Instead, if you do 2 or 3 thin coats you'll get perfection.

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I just made creme brulee last night for the first time! I feel I was fairly successful, but it's possible that I'm not the best judge. I used a recipe from a Gale Gand cookbook. It had 8 yolks to 2 2/3 c. dairy (mostly heavy cream). I whisked vigorously and then strained it and didn't have any problems (that I noticed) with air bubbles. I baked in a water bath for 30 minutes and it was set on the outside and jiggly in the center. By the time I moved them to the fridge, they were set pretty much all the way through. I used the broiler, not a torch, and the sugar crusted over perfectly, EXCEPT...

1. I used too much sugar on top. There was a layer of crystals underneath my crispy top layer. I have to learn to control that.

2. The ramekins got pretty warm in the broiler, so the sides of the custard got a little soft.

Other than that, the texture was silky and the flavor was delicious. It was very close to creme brulees I've had in restaurants. So... being a novice home chef creme brulee maker (who thinks it was startlingly easy to make), what exactly should I be looking for as signs of creme brulee success? It tasted wonderful. The top got a nice crust (minus the stuff under the top layer). The custard was delightfully creamy, not at all runny, and never once reminded me of pudding.

Did I have a rare success, or do I just not know what creme brulee success is?

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I've used the recipe in Yard's The Secrets of Baking many times, and it is so good that I have no desire to shop for a new one.

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

6 large egg yolks, chilled

Preheat oven to 300F.

Bring the cream, 1/2C sugar and bean to simmer in medium pan, take off of heat, cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes.

While that's resting, whisk the yolks together in another bowl.

After the 15 minute rest, pour the cream mix a little at a time to the yolks until complete, whisking all the while. Strain or pick out the bean.

Pour into 6 ramekins. Put the ramekins in a pan, and cover 2/3 with hottest tap water. Bake 40-45 minutes. They're done when the custard jiggles but does not slosh.

One thing I have done is bake the cremes in silicone muffin pans, then freeze them. After that, they can be unmolded like little hockey pucks onto a plate and brought up to room temp. I've frozen them for up to a few days and theyve turned out fine.

My favorite variation on creme brulee is Kahlua-espresso.

EDIT: The other half-cup of sugar is for caramelizing.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I used the broiler, not a torch, and the sugar crusted over perfectly, EXCEPT...

1. I used too much sugar on top. There was a layer of crystals underneath my crispy top layer. I have to learn to control that.

Its easier with a blowtorch. As Wendy said, the best way is to sprinkle a very thin coating of sugar, blowtorch it till you see it all melting, add another very thin coat of sugar, torch it till you see it melting, etc. This is the only way Ive ever gotten a semi-uniform caramel crust. Ive never succeeded with a broiler.

For my taste, burned sugar on a creme brulee is a kiss of death. A tiny dark spot is acceptable, but Ive seen creme brulees covered with black. This probably is the result of holding the blowtorch a millimeter away from the sugar, trying to caramelize it in 5 seconds. So, take your time if you can. You can always apply more heat, but you can't unburn sugar.


Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I actually tried to use a butane torch someone gave me for Christmas 2 years ago, and I couldn't figure out how to get the thing to work. I'm torch-challenged.

:blush:

I wasn't disappointed with the broiler at all, to be honest. It all melted together into a nice little "enamel" crust and THAT part was fairly even. If I got the amount of sugar correct, it would have been perfect (in my uneducated opinion).

Of course, if I could get my torch working, I'd definitely use it.

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If the water is going into the waterbath boiling, then more water should be better than less since it can buffer against temperature swings.

Has anyone tried brulee where caramel is heated over the stovetop and then poured on top? supposedly it gives a thicker, but much more even layer.


PS: I am a guy.

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I don't like to use the broiler to caramelize because it warms the custard too much and then you have to refrigerate to get it back. The torch is easier to control and faster and I find my brulees stay more chilled underneath.


Josette

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Has anyone tried brulee where caramel is heated over the stovetop and then poured on top? supposedly it gives a thicker, but much more even layer.

I haven't tried it, but I've seen some photos of creme brulee with a perfectly flat, uniformly colored caramel that I suspect must have been done in this way.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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One thing I have done is bake the cremes in silicone muffin pans, then freeze them. After that, they can be unmolded like little hockey pucks onto a plate and brought up to room temp. I've frozen them for up to a few days and theyve turned out fine.

AHHHHHHHHHHH, I've wanted to try that and keep forgetting. Thanks for mentioning it.

When you pour the molton sugar over the brulee it's tricky because it's very easy to get too thick of a layer. It would however work quite well if you needed to torch them off a couple hours in advance and hold them in the cooler.

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I am having a ton of problems with creme brulee at the new restaurant I am working in, they will not set. The restaurant only has 2 convection ovens and an alto-sham, no gas ovens. I have already done 5 tests using both convection ovens and using different recipes and the creme brulee mix will not set, it just forms a skin on top and is liquid underneath, no matter how long I bake it for. I have had this problem before in other places but never like this. I am baking the mix in standard 5" quiche molds, but to make things more complicated I can bake the creme brulee in a tart shell, same thickness as the mold and have it set in the convection oven with no problem. In all cases the fans on the convection ovens can not be turned off but they have been set to low and they are baked in a water bath. Is it possible that the convection ovens are too strong and can cause the brulee mix to separate and not set? Am I the only one who has ever had this problem? If I can't solve the problem, I will have to use the alto-sham to cook the creme brulee. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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I'm having similar problems and had never had any issues with this topic until my current job. I can't get any baked custards to set evenly in my convection ovens when I place them in waterbaths. Theres two things I'm looking at:

1. That my tap water isn't hot enough for a water bath used straight out of the facet. I've had custards set in the center before the edges did....which is what lead me to that conlusion. I have been forced to boil my water for my baths but that hasn't totally solved the issue.

2. I'm thinking my oven is baking more from the top down, then all around.

Just last thursday I used Cladia Flemmings flan recipe (in her book) yet again searching for answers (because she uses a different type of recipe and bakes it differently then most). She first makes her flan and sets it in the fridge to chill before baking. It's totally different in texture this way and is very thick pouring into my ramikins. She bakes hers with foil over the top (heavily pierced foil) then after like 30 min. she lifts up a corner to let steam out and finishes the bake.

If I cover mine in foil they can bake for years before they set. I also go from unset to overset in seconds....I just can't find the sweet spot. I've also played with my oven temp. to no avail.

The next step in my process is totally eliminating the water bath............which by the way effects my cheesecakes similarly too (since it's basicly a custard too). I've stopped using a water bath for my cheesecakes and that's worked....so it should work for my other custards.

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I have had good results baking creme brulee in a convection oven without a water bath (is there any other kind?). A low fan in a 200 degree oven and baking in shallow dishes on a sheet pan for hours -- the brulee set every time. We made the preparation and baked some directly, and reserved the rest for baking over the next few days. Never a problem. Of course the idiosyncracies of individual ovens are going to have more to say about the results than this post.

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We bake all of our brulees in a convection oven with a water bath and never have any problems. The only times it takes longer for the custard to set is when somebody misscales and uses fewer yolks in the basic mix. Our recipe uses half cream and half milk, heated with vanilla beans to almost boiling before mixing with yolks and sugar and straining, then completely chilled before pouring into dishes and baking.

Using less water in the bath can help speed setting. When I bake the brulees I put them in sheet pans and add only about 1/8-1/4 inch of hot water, then bake at 250 F for about 30 minutes.

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I think the amount of water is key. Neil had mentioned in a previous thread that about only 1/8 to 1/4 inch water is needed, and I tried it. I used to always fill up my pan until the water was halfway up the sides of the ramekins...everybody says to do it that way. When I tried Neil's method, I found that my custards set faster and more evenly. I think too much water can actually prevent the custard from setting.....that's my theory anyway, based on my above experiment! :smile:

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Stupid question, but why use a water bath if you're baking at low heat in a convection oven?


Tony

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wow, i have same probs! some times it takes forever to set. I figured it had to do with yolks, smaller size,etc.

i also filled up water high.

now i will try less h20 version.

Has anyone ever used wittco to bake them in?

a lot of times ovens are in use and i have to use wittco and i get crusting on some.

Creme brulee's can be a pain in the uknowwhat!

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Stupid question, but why use a water bath if you're baking at low heat in a convection oven?

I think this could also work, however you might risk drying out the custard before it sets producing a tough skin on top. The trick is to bake slowly, but not too slowly, and the thermodynamic qualities of the water bath help to even out the temperature so the edges don't bake much faster than the center, as well as slowing the dish temperature reaching the boiling point. It also adds moisture to the oven environment keeping the top of the custard from drying out quickly.

Not sure what a "wittco" is - care to explain?

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When I started my current job I played around with baking brulee at different temps and times and I found that I got the best result in a 200 degree oven, low fan (can't turn it off), uncovered and without a water bath. I bake off a full 200 hotel pan at a time and then portion when serving. It takes about 45-50 minutes to set.

I think the texture is different when using a water bath, almost more gelatinous. With a water bath it was taking almost as long to set while baking covered at 300 degrees. I much prefer the results when not using a water bath.

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We bake all of our brulees in a convection oven with a water bath and never have any problems. The only times it takes longer for the custard to set is when somebody misscales and uses fewer yolks in the basic mix. Our recipe uses half cream and half milk, heated with vanilla beans to almost boiling before mixing with yolks and sugar and straining, then completely chilled before pouring into dishes and baking.

Using less water in the bath can help speed setting. When I bake the brulees I put them in sheet pans and add only about 1/8-1/4 inch of hot water, then bake at 250 F for about 30 minutes.

We were using three fourths cream and one fourth milk on some and 50/50 on others. I like it much better this way than with 100% cream.

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I've come to the conclusion that it's all in the recipe.

The guy I'm working with does a creme catalana, a brulee with cinn stick infusion.

I can't give you the recipe but we bake it in a combi oven, convection on, ramekins in a hotel pan with some water, foil sealed, at 300 for 30 min., check them, if they're not set we leave the, sealed, for another 5 minutes, oven OFF.

They come out PERFECT!!!

Beautiful finish, best I've ever seen, made or eaten.


2317/5000

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Stupid question, but why use a water bath if you're baking at low heat in a convection oven?

I think this could also work, however you might risk drying out the custard before it sets producing a tough skin on top. The trick is to bake slowly, but not too slowly, and the thermodynamic qualities of the water bath help to even out the temperature so the edges don't bake much faster than the center, as well as slowing the dish temperature reaching the boiling point. It also adds moisture to the oven environment keeping the top of the custard from drying out quickly.

Not sure what a "wittco" is - care to explain?

it's a cook and hold.

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