1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
125g caster sugar
125 g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Have ready a heatproof bowl of cold water and a 16–18cm soufflé dish.
For the caramel, combine the sugar and one tablespoon of water in a small heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally so the sugar colours evenly, for 8–10 minutes until the sugar dissolves and turns a deep caramel colour. Remove from the heat and, to instantly stop the cooking process, place the pan in the bowl of cold water for five seconds. The pan will be very hot, so do this with care. Pour the caramel into the soufflé dish and swirl to evenly coat the base.
Bring the milk, vanilla pod and seeds just to the boil in a saucepan. Remove the vanilla pod.
Lightly whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Now pour in half the hot milk mixture and gently whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour in the remaining milk mixture and whisk again. Strain the custard into another bowl or a large jug and skim off any foam that rises to the surface – this ensures that a nice skin forms on top.
Pour the custard into the caramel-lined soufflé dish. Transfer to a 3 litre baking dish and pour in water to come halfway up the side of the soufflé dish (a bain marie). Bake the crème caramel for 1 – 1¼ hours, or until the custard is just set and has a slight wobble in the centre.
Cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill overnight.
Run a small, sharp knife around the edge of the crème caramel. Place a serving platter on top of the dish, flip over and gently shake to unmould the crème caramel. Serve as is, with the caramel dripping over and down the side of the set custard.
You can make this in six individual 250 ml capacity moulds if you like.
For a twist, when making the custard, add a little orange or lemon zest with the eggs and sugar.