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tan319

Classic French Crème Brulée - The Topic

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On the occasions when the brulees did not set, did all the brulees fail to set, or only some of them? On the occasions when the brulees did not set, did you check the oven temp or brulee temp? Do you always use the same recipe and the same scale? I ask because I have accidentally quadrupled a recipe but then only doubled the yolks.


"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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this may be a crazy idea...but are all of the dishes/ramekins the same thickness?

Even in a water bath they might be prone to cooking unevenly.

Sysco dishes aren't exactly perfect. : P

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hi, i'm a professional cook and have recently(about a month ago) helped out at pastries for my restaurant. Only having culinary school pastry experience, which was three classes, and no one at work to really answer all of my baking questions/problems, I need your help.

my restaurant is a "classic" French bistro that serves a moderate/high amount of people. My question is basic, but I really have no experience with baking. Occasionally, maybe one out of every fifteen to twenty dozen creme brulees I bake do not set. THe last time this happened the brulees were in the oven for over three and a half hours, and still did not set; even with adjusting the temperature. THis only occurs in one of the three still ovens i use, and i have taken the temperature of all the ovens. THe oven in question has the most constant temperature of the other two. Sorry for the long post, but there are a lot of factors and there's really no one to help at work.

thanks,

dave

As always when it comes to classic baking recipes/formulae.... you need to make sure you use: the same recipe ratio, ramekin/vessel and environment whenever attempting.... if possible. Mistakes do happen in a kitchen.


I'd rather live in a world without truffles than in a world without onions.

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thanks for all the fast relpies- this has been bothering me for awhile. I do use the same recipe, follow it exactly every time, use the same ramekins(at the same temp too), and amount and temp of water for the bath(a little over 3 qts). WHen the brulees do not set, all do not set. And after three and a half hours taking oven space, I just need to take them out so that others can use the oven. About the temp of the ovens and brulees themselves, I have thought about the temp that custard sets, but even if I did temp the custard, I still wouldn't have the space or time to troubleshoot and think about theory(it is a restaurant). I'm guessing it is the crazy ovens.

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I dont know the answer , but it seems not an oven problem , to me seems like something happening before in the processing of the brulee',because I doubt that all of them wont set at the same time in the same oven at the same temperature,probably something happen while you mix the brulee ,I am more incline in thinking what patrick saod about moltiplying or quadrupling a formula and forget to quandruple the yolks or so.Ihad that happend to me as well , and it can be an easy mistake ,expecially in the rush of a restaurant.

I can immagine how frustrating that can be.


Vanessa

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Are you making the custard fresh? Or has it sat in the fridge overnight to ripen?

I find that "fresh" custard has a harder time setting up. A trick that I used for this was to scald the milk/cream and then let it sit off the heat for 1 hour before mixing with the rest of the ingredients for the custard.

Don't know why it worked, but it did.

Obviously cold custard will take longer to set than warm. Unless you have the problem that I had.

Good luck!

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there was a thread about this some time ago (last year?) - and one of the suggestions was that too much water in the pans inihibited the cooking process and the suggestion was to use less water in the water bath. I can try to look for the thread later (I really should be leaving for work!), but it might have been a suggestion from nightscotsman or wendy debord.

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Cook the custard to crème anglaise stage (82 degrees celcius) before pouring it into ramekins, and make sure your water bath is the same temp as the custard mix initially.

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Is the oven you are using conventional or convection?

The reason I ask is creme brulees will not set in a convection oven if the creme brulee is baked in a water bath. No water bath is needed if your oven is convection.

All my ovens are convection and freshly made creme brulee in 6 oz. ramekins take about 30 -35 minutes to become almost completely set.

Jason

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If the whole batch is not setting, you might check your recipe -- especially if you are doing volume, try checking the size of your eggs. Some eggs and eggyolks are a lot smaller than others and if you count instead of weigh you could end up with far less coagulating proteins. Also, check your cream -- a higher butterfat content will be more liquid when hot, but set fine when chilled.

(I know how frustrating this is, for years I worked at the restaurant that popularized creme brulee in NYC and would make 80-100 a day. A horror if one day they did not set; because we were not allowed to 86 it -- I would have to make the whole batch over.)

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Is the oven you are using conventional or convection?

The reason I ask is creme brulees will not set in a convection oven if the creme brulee is baked in a water bath. No water bath is needed if your oven is convection.

All my ovens are convection and freshly made creme brulee in 6 oz. ramekins take about 30 -35 minutes to become almost completely set.

Jason

Why don't they set in convection in a water bath?

I baked once in a convection with water, and they did not set. I figured I screwed something up somewhere along the line. But if what you say is true, I now know the problem with that batch.


Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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Is the oven you are using conventional or convection?

The reason I ask is creme brulees will not set in a convection oven if the creme brulee is baked in a water bath. No water bath is needed if your oven is convection.

All my ovens are convection and freshly made creme brulee in 6 oz. ramekins take about 30 -35 minutes to become almost completely set.

Jason

A creme brulee will set fine in a convection oven with a water bath...

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Is the oven you are using conventional or convection?

The reason I ask is creme brulees will not set in a convection oven if the creme brulee is baked in a water bath. No water bath is needed if your oven is convection.

All my ovens are convection and freshly made creme brulee in 6 oz. ramekins take about 30 -35 minutes to become almost completely set.

Jason

A creme brulee will set fine in a convection oven with a water bath...

Well then that is news to me. I have tried 5 different recipes, all with water baths, and none of them set, even after 1 1/2 hours.

I finally found a recipe that is specifically designed for a convection oven and it stated that a water bath is not needed.

Also, why would you risk burning yourself with hot water when a non water bath produces the same results?

Jason

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Is the oven you are using conventional or convection?

The reason I ask is creme brulees will not set in a convection oven if the creme brulee is baked in a water bath. No water bath is needed if your oven is convection.

All my ovens are convection and freshly made creme brulee in 6 oz. ramekins take about 30 -35 minutes to become almost completely set.

Jason

A creme brulee will set fine in a convection oven with a water bath...

Well then that is news to me. I have tried 5 different recipes, all with water baths, and none of them set, even after 1 1/2 hours.

I finally found a recipe that is specifically designed for a convection oven and it stated that a water bath is not needed.

Also, why would you risk burning yourself with hot water when a non water bath produces the same results?

Jason

I don't use a water bath when baking brulees in a convection oven, but I have done it before and it has worked.

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From the details you have given, I think it's just a matter of not stirring the mix properly. I am assuming you are making a large recipe, 4-5 L, so if it sits for a short period of time the sugar and eggs can sink to the bottom. So if you pour the mix into the molds, it's possible the top portion of your mix would essentially be cream and just not set. It's happened to me in the past, so now I always whisk the mix every few minutes as I pour it into the molds. That could explain why 1 out of 3 trays you make doesn't set. Either that or you are somehow getting water into the molds when they are in the oven, and once that happens it won't set no matter how long you bake it.

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I'm curious about baking the custards without a water bath at all -- I have never done it and my BF does it all time; adding only an additional ramekin for water thinking it just needs moisture. I tell him he's crazy.

Is there a scientist who can explain why a water bath is needed at all?

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I'm curious about baking the custards without a water bath at all -- I have never done it and my BF does it all time; adding only an additional ramekin for water thinking it just needs moisture. I tell him he's crazy.

Is there a scientist who can explain why a water bath is needed at all?

I'm no scientist, but the water bath ensures that the outside of the ramekins (or at least the part in contact with the water) never exceeds 212F. It also helps maintain a temperature that is constant over time (rather than a bunch of peaks and dips as the elements cycle on and off) and consistent throughout the cooking space (your roasting pan or whatever that holds the ramekin).


"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 have made creme brulee many times in my home convection oven using a water bath without any troubles. I would be afraid to do it otherwise.


Donna

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Thanks for the help. I finally got around to do a remake this weekend, with splendid results!

I used about 5 eggyolks to 5 dl heavy cream, and about 1 dl sugar and one entire vanilla pod.

I pre-heated the heavy creaam and sugar mix, and put in the vanilla pod. when It cooled a bit (after 15 minutes or so) I mixed the cream/sugar/vanilla mix into the yolks.

I used both a water bath, and a convection oven. I was a bit confused on when to take them out of the oven, since the top surface set very fast (due to the hot air).

It becomes difficult to see when it's "set around the edges, but has a soft middle" (as my recipe says...) any thoughs on that matter ?

But overall, I'm very pleased with my first real crème Brulees, and thanks again for all the help.

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If you're worried about whether the brulee is done, you can use an instant thermometer to take its temperature. Cook's Illustrated says it's done when the middle reaches 170-175 degrees.

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Technique is key.

No-fail technique right here. I've used it many times in pro kitchens.

Put the cream on the stove to scald it. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar. Once the cream comes up to a boil, temper it slowly into the egg yolk mixture, mixing the whole time, until all the cream is in the mix. At this point, a 'foam' forms on top. Skim it off (the brulées will look nicer). Put the mixture in a pot, and cook on the stove (while stirring, low heat also) until it reaches a temperature of 82 degrees celcius (crème anglaise stage). Put into ramekins, then into a water bath (water bath must be hot, about the same temperature as the custard), and cover the whole tray with aluminum foil, leaving a few small holes. Cook in a 300 degree oven until set (should look kind of like jello, once they cool down they'll be solid but still give way in your mouth).

Result - smooth, creamy custard, nice shiny tops.

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Creme brulee is cooked when a firm rap on the pan holding the ramekins yields no sloshing -- instead the whole surface should shake as one, like jello, or not at all. Remove from oven, remove from water bath (depending on the shape of your ramekins, big tongs or a wide fish spatula work well) to another pan, cool and chill.

The most attractive crust for use with a blowtorch comes from using either granulated sugar sifted over in a thin layer, or raw sugar (turbinado/Sugar in the Raw) sprinkled over, pressed lightly, then the excess dusted off. Blowtorch away, angling the flame like a shading pencil.

This rigmarole is much better seen than explained in words, but I hope you get the idea.

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A properly calibrated convection oven will set a properly made creme brulee without a water bath. If your oven is any less than accurate and has hot spots or you are baking less than a full sheet pan of creme brulee ramekins, then variable oven temps and poor circulation may set some and not others. A testament to this is that the creme brulee were perfectly baked at 190 for 1 hr 15 minutes... all the time, 315 days a year, made by the same person. Thus the horror when Francisco was off and someone else's creme brulee didn't set.

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You know how sometimes you experiment in the kitchen and you stumble upon something wonderful? Yeah, those times are great.

Then there are those times when you experiment and you can only laugh at your stupidity after the fact?

I did the latter just now.

I had made some Pumpkin Brulee (recipe here) and it came out great.

I had a few ramekins left that hadn't had the burnt sugar treatment yet, so I decided to experiment. I really like sour stuff, and I wondered if mixing a tiny bit of citric acid (sour salt) into the sugar would give the brulee a little tangy kick. So I mixed a 1/2 tsp. citric acid into 1 tbsp. sugar and did the torch thing.

I should have taken a picture. The citric acid turned black, made these horrible bubbles, and actually caught fire for a second. It crisped up nicely with the sugar, and besides the big black bubbles, it seemed OK. Then I tasted it.

The only way I can describe the flavor is "Burnt Sour". Disgusting. It's been 15 minutes, I only took 2 bites, and I still can't get the taste out of the back of my mouth.

Don't ever try this. Just don't.


"Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit." -- Anthony Bourdain

Promote skepticism and critical thinking. www.randi.org

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it's pretty ironic considering your sig line. i'd have been a bit more skeptical :laugh::laugh:

but thanks for the warning!

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