Although I perhaps should have been patriotic and made the English version I just couldn't resist the charms of the Spanish crema catalana which is delicately flavoured with orange, lemon and cinnamon. Unlike it's French and English counterparts which are baked in a bain marie, crema catalana is cooked on the stove and set in the fridge.
The caramel topping is made using a blow torch, if you don't have a blow torch you can use a very hot grill, it just won't be as fun! It is crucial here that you don't do this more than half an hour before you serve if you want the caramel to stay hard and crack satisfyingly as you break in.
- 10fl oz/300ml single cream
- 10fl oz/300ml full-cream milk
- Finely grated zest 1/2 orange
- Finely grated zest 1/2 large lemon
- 3in/7.5cm cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 4 large egg yolks
- 24oz/75g caster sugar, plus 4 tbsp 2 tbsp cornflour
Bring the cream, milk, orange zest, lemon zest and the cinnamon stick halves to the boil in a non-stick pan. Set aside for one hour for the milk to become infused with the flavourings.
Put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the 2½oz/75g sugar and beat with a hand-held electric mixer until pale and creamy. Beat in the cornflour. Bring the milk back to the boil and strain into a jug. Mix a few tablespoons into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it slightly, then stir in the remainder.
Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of the wooden spoon. But don't let the mixture boil.
Pour the mixture into four wide shallow dishes (terracotta if possible), measuring about 5in/12cm across. Leave to cool, then chill for 4-6 hours, or overnight. Shortly before serving, sprinkle the surface of each custard with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar and caramelise under a hot grill. Serve immediately - the sugar will stay hard for only about 30 minutes.