In my novel, Audrey cooked her custard on the hob, with curdling consequences. This method - gently baked in the oven - is an altogether less nerve-wracking prospect. As the brûlées should be chilled overnight, it’s best to make these the day before you serve them.
Pre-heat your oven at 110 C, gas 1/4. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale and fluffy.
Heat the cream in a pan until just below boiling point. Pour the cream into the bowl, stirring as you do so. Slit the vanilla pod if using, scrape out the seeds and add to the bowl, or add the vanilla essence. If you have used a vanilla pod, sieve your mixture to remove the seeds.
Place 4 ramekins in a deep roasting tin and divide your mixture between them. Boil a kettle, and carefully pour the water into the tin until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Take care not to slosh water until your brûlées. Bake for 45 minutes, then allow to cool and chill in the fridge overnight.
For the topping, sprinkle each brûlée with caster sugar to around the depth of a pound coin. If you’re being fancy, use a blowtorch to caramelise the tops. Otherwise, set your grill as hot as it can go and place your brûlées underneath until the sugary tops are golden and bubbling. Allow to cool and tuck in.
Recipe from Fiona Gibson, the author of The Woman Who Upped and Left, a heartwarming novel about a woman with a taste for adventure… and mouthwatering French food. Available now in paperback and on Amazon.