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Nicola Lamb’s Baked Lemon Custard Brûlée

If you're looking for a sophisticated dessert, look no further than Nicola Lamb's baked lemon custard brûlée, a rich and creamy lemon-spiked custard topped with crunchy caramelised sugar.

Introduction

Caramel and lemon is an underrated combination – the tang of the ultra-smooth custard plays so well with the bitterness of the caramel. The custard can be made in advance and brûlée’d when you’re ready to serve.

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Ingredients

peel of 4 unwaxed lemons (thick pieces)
125g double cream
145g caster sugar
210g (about 4) whole eggs
125g lemon juice
caster or demerara sugar, to sprinkle

Essential kit

You will need: 4 x ramekins and a blow torch.

Method

Preheat the oven to 140°C/120°C fan. Arrange the ramekins in a large baking dish with high sides for the water bath.

Heat together the lemon peels, double cream and half the sugar until simmering. Remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes to infuse.

Whisk together the eggs and the remaining sugar very well, followed by the infused double cream and the lemon juice. Pass through a fine sieve. Use a spoon to remove any bubbles or foam from the top of the mixture. This can be a painstaking process but it’s important!

Divide the lemon custard among the ramekins, about 150g per ramekin. Boil the kettle, then pour the boiling water carefully into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until there is around 2–3cm of good wobble in the centre of your custards. You don’t want to overbake them as this leads to potential cracks later down the line, so just watch out for that. I start checking after 20 minutes and then every 5–10 minutes after that. Remember it’s better to underbake than overbake in this case!

Remove from the oven and carefully transfer each ramekin onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour before transferring to the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the custard with a thin, even layer of caster or demerara sugar. Caramelise the sugar using a blow torch. You can do several layers if you prefer a thicker crust. Allow the caramelised crust to cool and harden for 5 minutes before serving. If you don’t have a blow torch, preheat the grill to high, then place the custard dishes on a baking sheet and grill for 1–2 minutes until the sugar caramelises and turns golden brown. Cool and harden as above.

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