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Classic French Crème Brulée - The Topic


tan319
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I recently put creme brulee on my dessert menu after much resistence, since I had never heard of baking creme brulee in a convection oven and all 8 of my ovens are convection.

Finally found a recipe that can be baked in either a conventional or convection oven, and as many have said, no water bath for the convection. The temperatue to bake is also very worrisome, as it calls to bake them at 150 F Convection ( low blower )

Works great though, with about 30- 35 for minutes for a traditional 5 ounce creme brulee dish to bake till almost set.

here is the recipe if you would like to try:

8 cups Heavy cream

Vanilla to taste

12 egg yolks

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar

Heat cream and vanilla to a simmer

Mix eggs, yolks, and sugar together

Temper hot cream into egg/sugar mixture, pouring all the cream in

strain through a chinois

Pour into molds

Bake

I turn the oven off and crack the door some after I feel they are done or very close to being done, then let cool at room temp. for about 30 minutes before refrigerating for at least 4 hours before serving.

HTH

Jason

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

I used to think that too. But I've used recipes that work everywhere else but in this kitchen. It's not just creme brulee it's flans too.....and was my cheesecakes until I took them out of a waterbath. This incorrect baking happens with every custard recipe in my ovens.

But I now think it's about the technique. Even if I use a small amount of water in the pan, it stops the baking where it comes in contact with my ramikins. I use a waterbath because that's what we are taught (in books for me) and all logic that Neil wrote.

I know this doesn't seem logical, that's the irony. It's just like the brown sugar I once got that wouldn't melt.....or the heavy cream that didn't have enough fat to whip.

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Can I say I am greatly relieved to know I am not alone in this! I thought I was losing my mind and competency!!!!

We changed from 6oz two inch tall ramekins to the shallow one inch sided 8 oz. ceramic dishes. From baking in hotel pans in a water bath & covered with foil to baking on sheet pans(bottom and top) and all I can say is....TRAUMA!!! I've always insisted on baking my brulees at a low temperature for a longer period...but this was insane. After hours, they still hadn't set at all or they had boiled(!).

My assistant insisted that he always baked his brulees at 350 F in a convection oven! I didn't believe and I refused to try. Still do(just a little stubbborn). Too hot for me.

So, I added a few whole eggs to the mix: for every 9 yolks and 3 cups of heavy cream, one whole egg. I switched back to hotel pans(even though fewer of the dishes fit), put them to bake at 275 F ( alittle hotter)with regular fan and said a little prayer. Approximately, one hour later they came out with an even jiggle. I was overjoyed!

I've never tried baking brulees uncovered with out a water bath but I am intrigued and for my own sanity I will try it. Just so I know. Just so I have a back up method/plan for those days when the brulee gods and tempermental aging ovens choose to play havoc with my day!

Thanks for sharing! :biggrin:

D.

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I recently put creme brulee on my dessert menu after much resistence, since I had never heard of baking creme brulee in a convection oven and all 8 of my ovens are convection.

Finally found a recipe that can be baked in either a conventional or convection oven, and as many have said, no water bath for the convection. The temperatue to bake is also very worrisome, as it calls to bake them at 150 F Convection ( low blower )

Works great though, with about 30- 35 for minutes for a traditional 5 ounce creme brulee dish to bake till almost set.

here is the recipe if you would like to try:

8 cups Heavy cream

Vanilla to taste

12 egg yolks

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar

Heat cream and vanilla to a simmer

Mix eggs, yolks, and sugar together

Temper hot cream into egg/sugar mixture, pouring all the cream in

strain through a chinois

Pour into molds

Bake

I turn the oven off and crack the door some after I feel they are done or very close to being done, then let cool at room temp. for about 30 minutes before refrigerating for at least 4 hours before serving.

HTH

Jason

The reason you use a water bath is that it keeps whatever you're cooking in the water bath from becoming hotter than the boiling temperature of water, and over-cooking whatever it is you're cooking. If the creme brulee or flan or cheesecakes or whatever were actually cooking at 325, they'd be scrambled in no time. If you checked the internal temperature of the creme brulee when they're set, they'd be about 185 degrees.

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Though if your brulée does go over and curdle, you can bring it back with a burr blender, and it makes a LOVELY tart filling. You can even still brulée it in the tart shell.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I do stovetop; they all turn out the same, and they can be made and ready to serve (chilled and set) in a couple hours. Wendy, for cheesecakes- i just put a pan of water in with them so that they have steam.

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I tryed selling stove top made creme brulee, I liked it. But no one else did and I had to go back to baking brulees.

JGarner53, I've done similar when in a bind but an over baked brulee burr whipped remains thin. The thickening power of the yolks are shot at that point. It turns our more like an anglaise if you burr whip.

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I just tried baking the creme brulees without a waterbath, uncovered and they set no problem at 200 F in just over an hour. They came out perfect! I still don't like the idea of not using the waterbath but if this is the only thing that will work I will take it. Thanks again so much for all your help, I was on the verge of having an aneurysm.

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I've been selling stove top brulee for twenty years. I think that they are much better (and no, I never use cornstarch). I first learned how to make creme brulee at Spago from Nancy Silverton- and returned to that method because of quality and ease of preparation!

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If you burr mix an overcooked brulee in a container that is in an ice bath- it will always come back (the mixture needs to still be hot). This is how creme brulee was made at Postrio- for about ten years, and poured into baked puff pastry shells to be "bruleed".

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  • 3 weeks later...

Need help. I made a creme brulee and ran into a couple of problems. I used turbanado sugar and placed the ramekins under the broiler and it never carmelized. Then the top of the custard started to inflate and that's when I took it out before it started to burn. What was the problem? Maybe I need more sugar? Or is this a common problem using a broiler instead of a torch.

Another problem is that it was runny. The instructions say to bake "until the custards are firm at the edges, but still a bit wobbly in the center." I took it out when the wobbly center was nearly half of the surface area of the top. What was the problem? Was it because I took it out of the oven too soon or could it be caused by overbroiling?

I used Le Cirque's recipe.

http://www.cooking.com/recipes/static/recipe4851.htm

I used a ramekin similar to below. Length across was maybe 4 1/2 inches.

http://www.vitalita.com/foodpicts/asparagus-quiche.jpg

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What was the problem? Maybe I need more sugar? Or is this a common problem using a broiler instead of a torch.

Almost certainly. The need here is for heat fierce enough to caramelise the sugar on top without being prolonged enough to scramble and ultimately burn the custard layer beneath. Think of it in the same way as baked alaska, which needs a fierce heat in order to brown the external meringue before the internal ice cream melts.

If you lack a blowtorch or gasgun, I find that the best results can be gained by sacrificing an old kitchen spoon. Heat the bowl of the spoon in a gas jet (even a solid fuel fire if needs be), and using a thick dry cloth to hold the handle of the spoon, touch the bowl of the spoon directly on to the sugared surface of the brulee. Roll the bowl of the spoon about to caramelise the whole surface of the brulee.

The layer of sugar needs to be thick enough to give a good caramel layer (and also to insulate the custard to a certain extent) but not so thick that unmelted sugar remains beneath the caramelised layer. Trying to melt too much sugar usually results in the use of too much prolonged heat and scrambling of the custard as you describe.

Another problem is that it was runny.  The instructions say to bake "until the custards are firm at the edges, but still a bit wobbly in the center."  I took it out when the wobbly center was nearly half of the surface area of the top. What was the problem? Was it because I took it out of the oven too soon or could it be caused by overbroiling?

Unlikely that runniness is caused by overbroiling. If it was, though, you would notice that the runniness was present primarily in the top half of the custard (i.e. the half closest to the broiler). If it was pretty much uniformly runny then you've probably undercooked the custard; try giving it a bit longer.

The recipe differs from the one I use, but still seems sound. Mine is pretty much commis-proof, and I can give you a copy if you'd like.

The dish you are using is quite shallow - you may get a better result in a slightly deeper one.

Hope this helps,

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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Need help. I made a creme brulee and ran into a couple of problems. I used turbanado sugar and placed the ramekins under the broiler and it never carmelized. Then the top of the custard started to inflate and that's when I took it out before it started to burn. What was the problem? Maybe I need more sugar? Or is this a common problem using a broiler instead of a torch.

Another problem is that it was runny.  The instructions say to bake "until the custards are firm at the edges, but still a bit wobbly in the center."  I took it out when the wobbly center was nearly half of the surface area of the top. What was the problem? Was it because I took it out of the oven too soon or could it be caused by overbroiling?

I used Le Cirque's recipe.

http://www.cooking.com/recipes/static/recipe4851.htm

I used a ramekin similar to below. Length across was maybe 4 1/2 inches.

http://www.vitalita.com/foodpicts/asparagus-quiche.jpg

I've always used a torch with my cremes brulees, with non problems. Make sure to put them in the fridge after they are cooked. Also put them back in the frige for 10-15 minutes after 'burning' the top. It makes the tops very crispy, just don't leave them longer.

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Another problem is that it was runny.  The instructions say to bake "until the custards are firm at the edges, but still a bit wobbly in the center."  I took it out when the wobbly center was nearly half of the surface area of the top. What was the problem?

How long did you refrigerate them for before serving? Assuming they chilled then I'd say the runniness was definitely due to underbaking. Personally, for a single serving size ramekin I would bake until there's an area the size of a quarter in the middle that still has a decent jiggle to it.

I've never had much luck using a broiler in a consumer oven for brulees. I don't think the heat is intense enough to do a good job of caramelizing the the sugar without burning the custard. If you don't have access to a torch I'd go with the spoon method that culinary bear suggested. Make sure that you get the spoon incredibly hot as you need it to caramelize the sugar fast or it will stick to the spoon.

Good luck

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I didn't follow your link to check the recipe - but the Le Cirque/Jacques Torres recipe is a good one. At Le Cirque they bake them in a convection oven which allows them to bake at 250 without a water bath. It still takes about an hour and when they say jiggly - well - they don't mean very jiggly.

The baked brulees are chilled thoroughly. When you want to do the sugar - you dab off the moisture. Jacques used light brown sugar that we baked to dry and then sifted. We would sift a thin layer on the custard then another - then under the Salamander - which is a pretty intense broiler.

Other places, I have used white sugar or turbinado, even sugar in the raw.

You should try again.

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A very nice "caramel can be obtained by using DOMINO light brown sugar. I can't tell you why but only this brand works, probably something to do with anti-caking agents or something. Dry the sugar in the oven on a low temp and then run through a tamis. Sprinkle the sugar on the brulees in an even layer. It should work in the broiler because you are really melting, not caramelizing the sugar. It does not work with a torch, the heat is too intense and it burns.

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At Le Cirque they bake them in a convection oven which allows them to bake at 250 without a water bath.

What a great tip! Can't wait to try this out. I wonder what the science is behind that but I'm willing to chalk it up to magic.

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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I think you'll find alot of help if you read this thread..

Since the date of that thread I have been baking wonderful creme brulee's again with-out using a water bath at all. That has totally solved the problems I was having. They now bake at 300 in my convectionoven for 20 minutes or less.

I posted a photo of a partically eaten creme brulee I made the other day for work on my currently running blog (in the General Foods Forum), I had to make 191 of them. That should prove to you how creamy they still are with-out the water bath.

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Wendy,

Thanks for that link. I enjoy cooking more when I understand "the why" of what I'm doing.

- kim

Edited by Kim D (log)

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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  • 3 months later...

having an issue with my final product when i make creme brulee. it is just not set. obviously i am not cooking it long enough.

the chef can make them just fine. but alas, it seems i am brulee impaired.

i was wondering if there is an internal temp that i should shoot for. the whole jiggle the pan thing is just not working for me.

any help would be much appreciated.

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i was wondering if there is an internal temp that i should shoot for.  the whole jiggle the pan thing is just not working for me.

I've never checked the temp of my brulees but whole eggs with added liquid will coagulate around 175-185 so I'd shoot for 180 and see how that works for you. Think about when you cook anglaise, much over 180 and you get scrambled eggs unless for some reason you have some form of starch in it which will let you take it to a higher temp. Also the amount of sugar in your recipe will affect the finished consisitency. More sugar= softer custard.

Hope that helps

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