the bake off bake along, week 4


it’s dessert week! after i watched the fourth episode of the great british bake off, i was at a loss. (even more so when i saw the preview for the following week! ahhhh) the spanischer windtorte seemed like something i really ought to attempt because it comes from a country very near where i live right now… and i’m just into that kind of thing.

however, we were just about to leave on a long weekend holiday away and i couldn’t bear the thought of the torte just sitting there for four days. crème brûlée

it was to be.

now, custard and i have a history. at a relatively early age, i became obsessed with it and went about making custard after custard for several days. (so many curdled disasters!) colored with pink food coloring, i still have this mental image of all of these pink custards just sitting in the fridge. nowadays, i only make a custard-type food every december, when i whip up some egg-nog for
christmas eve. (delicious!) so why not

crème brûlée, right?

for a flavor, i immediately wanted to try an earl grey flavor with a topping of lemon zest. (and lemon zest makes yet another appearance….) i recently picked up a large box of delicious earl grey at M&S and have been drinking it every morning in between teaching intensive lessons like a champ. it was truly earl grey week, all around.


so, i began with this lot of ingredients, using šlehačka (40% cream) and confectioner’s sugar.
first, i mixed my three egg yolks with the sugar. secondly, i slowly heated my cream with one tea bag of earl grey tea. i was a little concerned that one tea bag might not be enough, but as the amount of cream was relatively small (about 300ml), i went with it, pressing a spoon to the bag during
heating to extract as much flavor as possible. such a lovely light brown color!


then the coming together of the two, added vanilla, and whisked heartily. at this point, i poured into my four coffee cup “ramekins”, sat them in a bath in an outer pan, and baked for about 45 minutes, and into the fridge for about 30-40 minutes (as long as i could allow within the GBBO time-limit of an hour and a half)

the sugar part, i’m sorry to say, wasn’t a success. i’ve never used the broiler setting on my oven (and furthermore, still not really sure what that setting is) and it was way too cool in there for any real sugar-broiling. this, with being nervous about ruining one of my coffee mugs plus the time limit
left me with no caramelization effect. also, are you even supposed to keep the ramekins in the bath during the broil? i admit that i did only because i saw the contestant paul doing it! (i know, look how his turned out)

but hey, it is brown, so maybe it did caramelize? heh.


BUT. the most delicious, smooth, silky creamy JUST RIGHT earl grey custard you have ever tasted. i had my second serving the next morning for breakfast, and then i did a very stupid thing, my friends.

in my scramble of holding on to ten things at once and thinking about twenty, i absent-mindedly set my half-eaten

crème brûlée

IN THE SINK. alex, the pro-dishwasher that he is, immediately filled said cup with water.

“uhhh, alex…. have you seen my

crème brûlée?”, i asked, after having come somewhat back to my senses.
“uhhhh… it’s….. umm….. i’m sorry, but it’s gone.”
“you set it in the sink, it’s got water in it now.”

(cue tears)

i hate to admit it, but since it is part of the “story” of this recipe, it is true. i cried over a

crème brûlée, people, all the while cursing my stupidity, and trying not to throw up.

“ohhhh, don’t worry. i fixed it!” alex offered.
he had poured all of the water out and tried to dry it. awh.

after sulking and feeling angry with myself for five minutes, i ate the rest. and it was still amazing. and worth crying over. not to be penetrated or ruined by water. although paul and mary certainly would chide me on my lackluster sugar topping, the custard was the best work of my life. which is better than i can say about at least four of the GBBO contestants. so… bam.


and now, i will continue being nervous about what the heck i am going to do about next week’s recipe. (this is my first bake-off! i’m scared! hold me.)