A classic pudding that can be served on the day it is made or will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
- 200g caster or granulated sugar
- 110ml water
- 60ml water
- 600ml milk
- 4 eggs, preferably free range
- 40g castor sugar
- 1 vanilla pod split lengthways
- 1 x 12.5cm charlotte mould or 6 x 7.5cm porcelain dariole dishes
- Put the cold milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla pod. Bring to just under boiling point, and cool for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs and castor sugar until thoroughly mixed but not too fluffy.
- Meanwhile, make the caramel. Put the sugar and water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Bring to the boil, remove the spoon and cook until the caramel becomes golden brown or what we call a "chestnut" colour. You will need to gently tilt the pan to and fro to get a caramel of even colour. Do not be tempted to stir the caramel with a spoon or it may "block" and become solid. When the caramel is ready for lining the moulds, it must be used immediately or it will become hard.
- Coat the bottom of the charlotte mould or soufflé dishes with the hot caramel. Dilute the remainder of the caramel with the 60ml of the water, return to the heat to dissolve and keep aside to serve around the caramel custard.
- Pour the slightly cooled milk onto the egg mixture, whisking gently as you pour. Strain and pour into the prepared moulds, filling them to the top (save your vanilla pod for another day. I usually give it a gentle rinse, allow it to dry completely on my kitchen counter and then put it into a jar of caster sugar. The vanilla flavoured sugar can in due course be used for cakes and biscuits)
- Place the moulds in a bain-marie of simmering water, cover with a paper lid and bake in a moderate oven 150°C for 35 minutes approx., for individual dishes, 1 hour approx. for a charlotte mould. Test the custard by putting a skewer in the centre, it will come out clean when the custard is fully cooked.
- Cool to room temperature and turn out onto a round, flat dish or individual plates. Drizzle a little of the caramel sauce around and serve with a little softly whipped cream.