crème anglaise with saffron
Crème anglaise with saffron from Lebanon needs the tartness of a gooseberry compote. Having made Claudia Roden’s hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache from The Med, (delicious) there were 6 egg yolks spare. Custard, was my first thought. Nigel Slater’s from Appetite. Stirring the eggs and milk in a bain marie (just in case) Zejd’s saffron seemed like a more interesting choice of flavouring than vanilla.
In France, custard is more upmarket – crème anglaise, even sounds grander. When we lived in Bordeaux, our children brought friends home for lunch on a Friday (rather than have lunch at school!) It was slightly unnerving cooking for such a young and discerning audience. Nevertheless, we tested various British dishes on them like shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and fish cakes. When we presented them with another British classic, apple crumble and custard, they promptly poured the custard in to their glasses, and declared it “pas mal”. Our children’s jaws dropped, surprised that custard was something to drink from a glass!
Saffron divides people. However, as custard/crème anglaise can be quite “eggy”, using a bit of Zejd’s saffron
somehow tempers the “eggyness” or zankha in Arabic. Crème anglaise with saffron served in glasses, straight from the fridge, alongside a compote of tart gooseberries might even make it on to a grown-ups table in Bordeaux!
enough for 6 served in small glasses
- Beat or whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale, in a bowl without creating too many bubbles.
- Gradually add the milk into the mixture, stirring to combine thoroughly before heating.
- If you’d rather make this in a bain marie, half fill a small saucepan with water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Place the bowl over the saucepan.
- Add the pinch of saffron, and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. This could take up to 15 minutes, or longer, patience being the skill here, so it helps to have something good to listen to! It won’t get nearly as thick as ready made custard.
- If you’d rather use a saucepan, which is quicker, find one that has a thick bottom. Place on a very low heat, and stir until it coats the back of a spoon. If it looks like curdling, quickly sit the saucepan in a basin of cold water and beat very quickly.
- Remove from the heat and after 5 minutes, transfer to the glasses on a tray. When cool, put the tray in the fridge. Leave for as long as you can, and eat within a couple of days.
Serve with something tart, a compote of gooseberries or blackcurrants. A bowl of fresh red currants or raspberries would work well too.