12 September 2013

Creme Patissiere vs Creme Anglaise

Watching GBBO always put me in mind of creme pat, don't you find that? No? Just me then... It was the floating islands in their creme anglaise that got me thinking about it (I haven't made them yet but they are on the agenda soon) and the difference between them.
It seems that the difference is that creme pat uses a thickening agent (flour, cornflour or a mixture of both) and is therefore a lot thicker and can be used in tarts etc. Creme anglaise just uses the eggs to thicken it and therefore has more of a pouring texture.
I have made creme pat twice recently. The first time was a few weeks ago when I made a Boston Cream Pie. This is a sponge sandwich with creme pat in the centre covered in a chocolate ganache. No pictures I'm afraid but it was yum despite the sponge being undercooked and the creme pat not being quite thick enough. It would appear that I am having a few issues in the kitchen at the moment what with Muffingate last week! In fact one of my friends said that it was the nicest thing she had tasted in a long time so disaster disschmaster!! I used a recipe from the BBC website for the creme pat and it used cornflour to thicken it. I think I may have taken it off the heat too soon, hence the lack of thickness.
The second time was last week. After doing some research online and in Master the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child I found that there were many recipes and many different ways of making it. The recipe I went with was from the Cordon Blue website.

250mls Milk
1 vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
60g sugar
30g flour

I wanted to see if I could make a cardamom custard so I replaced the vanilla pod with a cardamom pod, I used just one as I wasn't sure. It had a hint of cardamom flavour but not enough so next time I would use at least 4. The milk is heated with the pod and a third of the sugar until almost boiling. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale and fluffy then add the flour and mix well. This is where it gets tricky. Add about a third of the almost boiling milk to the egg mixture, this tempers the eggs. Whisk well and then add this back into the rest of the milk whisking all the time. Put back on the heat and and cook until bubbling, let it cook for a minute to cook out the flour. This recipe called for butter to be patted along the surface of the custard once it is off the heat, to stop a skin forming. Other recipes say to whisk in the butter once it is off the heat and then cover with clingfilm before refrigerating it. I did the latter, not sure why, it seemed more logical!
As I said above it had a hint of cardamom but not enough and again it wasn't very thick. A lot of the websites warn against heating it too much in case of curdling and I think I was too quick to take it off the heat, it needed another few minutes and it would have been fine, I need to take my courage in my hands the next time. I used it to make two mini tarts with kiwi atop and they went down very nicely.
Next up is the creme anglaise which will be attempted as part of my GBBO technical challenge challenge!

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