Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I wish I was a...

It would be nice to be able to say that I was a genuine domestic goddess but truthfully candles are the best thing that ever happened to my housekeeping – turning off the lights and keeping it dim seems so much less trouble than hovering and my flat seldom depresses me more than on a sunny morning which brings with it the realisation that This Really Won’t Do. Every time I manage to impose order on the kitchen it turns out to be a remarkably temporary state of affairs – perhaps exacerbated by the general rule that I only get it really straightened out just before I’m about to cook , so within minutes the order is destroyed.

Monday being Valentine’s Day seemed to call for some sort of effort on behalf of the Scottish One both in terms of food and providing pleasant surroundings. Half of that went really well and the rest of it was covered by candlelight. Valentines is a tricky one – it’s not the sort of thing I’m at all inclined to get excited by, especially the more commercial aspects of the day but I would be devastated if I didn’t get a card from my mum (every year since I can remember – thank you mum). I also like the excuse to cook something vaguely decadent – this time I made Crème Brûlée with a gold leaf topping (flashy I thought) and thank Nigella it turned out very nicely.

Crème Brûlée has always been one of those things which I imagine will be horrendously difficult and turn out to be really not (regardless of the Scottish One’s feelings it’s also my favourite dessert – not at all sure what his is now I come to think of it). This recipe makes enough for 2 to 4 Brûlée’s

300ml double cream
4 egg yolks
2 level tablespoons of castor sugar
½ a teaspoon vanilla extract
Extra sugar - preferably golden castor or similar.

Take whatever the Brûlée is going to end up in (larger dish, or little ramekins, or in this case the prettiest teacups I could find) and stick it in the freezer.

Put the cream and vanilla extract in a heavy based pan and bring to the boil without actually letting it boil.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar together, and when the cream is ready pour it over still whipping.

Rinse and dry the pan, pour the custard back into it and over a gentle heat with continuous stirring wait for the custard to thicken – this should take about 10 mins. Apparently it’s a good idea to have a sinful of cold water ready to plunge the pan into if it looks like the custard’s going to split, but touchwood this has never happened to me. When the custard is ready (runny won’t be a good look) take it off the heat, retrieve the containers from the freezer and pour in. Leave to cool then put in the fridge to get properly cold. When they’re ready to serve sprinkle a good layer of sugar on top and either attack with a blow torch or put under a grill set as hot as it’ll go. (Blow torches are a fun kitchen gadget even if you don’t use them much).

I had some gold leaf I got before Christmas – 1 very small square which cost me £3.99 – and which I’ve been looking for an excuse to use. Broken up and brushed on with a mix of fingers and a pastry brush it went quite far and looked amazing (candlelight – hides the dust, flatters my aging complexion, and makes pudding sparkle like pirate treasure – brilliant).


  1. oh your opening paragraph made me smile. I hope you turned the lights on long enough on Monday to truly see the gold shimmer.

  2. If it is any consolation, as you know I spent this morning baking sachertorte and biscuits rather than doing the housework. In my (limited) experience men really don't seem to notice if it's not very clean and tidy and the level of appreciation for baking/cooking is far higher than should you spend that time dusting.

  3. mmm look delicious. I am itching to bake something this weekend for some reason.

  4. Joan Hunter Dunn - we both took pictures of it like mad things in the kitchen under full light - the gold leaf is lovely, a beautiful buttery yellow and really nice to play with. I'm going to try and hunt down some more for suitable occasions...

    Verity, I would tend to agree but he's much tidier than I am and I keep seeing things through my mother's eyes - she's much tidier than anyone I know, but is also fooled by candles. The Sachertorte looked amazing K is a lucky man.

    I'm trying to think of other things to mae where a little gold will go a long way - any ideas?

    Jo have fun this weekend;)

  5. I wish I was a domestic goddess too, alas that day is far away I think...