Crème Anglaise is one of the simplest recipes to learn as part of this journey, and it feels a bit like cheating devoting an entire post to it.
However, it’s the basis of so many recipes that I need to make sure I get it right. And over the coming posts I’ll be using it to make crème brûlée, floating islands, bavarois and down the track ice cream and soufflés.
Crème Anglaise is basically an English custard sauce, made by whisking together egg yolks and sugar before adding to hot milk.
The technique is relatively easy and the only way you can go wrong is when re-heating the egg-based mixture once the milk is added.
There’s a chance it will curdle and start cooking the eggs, but if you ensure the custard doesn’t actually come to the boil you should be safe.
If small blobs do start to appear, you can always sieve the custard before serving.
I will admit that the first time I made crème Anglaise, I totally stuffed it up. I saw it coat the back of the wooden spoon but kept thinking it wasn’t quite there yet and before I knew it I had scrambled eggs.
Follow Michel Roux’s recipe below and you should be safe!
125g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
6 egg yolks
Put the milk, two-thirds of the sugar and the vanilla pod into a heavy-based saucepan and slowly bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes pale and has a light ribbon consistency.
Pour the boiling milk on to the egg yolks, whisking continuously, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spatula or spoon; do not let it boil or it may curdle. The custard is ready when it has thickened slightly – just enough to lightly coat the back of the spatula. When you run your finger through, it should leave a clear trace. Immediately take the pan off the heat.
Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl set over crushed ice and leave to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.