We must have all eaten quite a few in our time, but do you have any idea just how easy they are to make? If, like me, you assumed you needed the technical wizardry and the years of experience of a Michelin-starred chef to make them, ce n'est pas vrai! As our friends at The Great British Bake Off have proved, these couldn't be more straightforward, they are, after all, just a bowl of custard with a burnt top. A blow torch would be useful for these, but a grill is fine too.
600ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/3 and place 4 small ramekins or ovenproof dishes in a small baking tin. Pour the cream into a small pan and scrape out the vanilla seeds and put the pod and the seeds into the pan with the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium-low heat, keeping a fierce eye on it as cream boils over very quickly.
Meanwhile, put the yolks and caster sugar into a mixing bowl and stir until just combined. When the cream begins to boil, remove the vanilla pod and then pour the cream onto the yolk and sugar mix, stirring constantly.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins and pour cold water into the tin until so it comes two-thirds of the way up the ramekins. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the custard is just set. Test by touching the surface and giving it a shake - only the centre should wobble. Cool and then chill in the fridge until cold.
Scatter the tops of the cold brûlées evenly with the demerara sugar, and use a blowtorch or hot grill to caramelise the tops. If using a grill, keep an eye on them constantly and cool in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. You can make the custard several days in advance and just finish them off before serving.