Tuesday, April 19, 2011
My beloved and I have resorted to behaving like lizards; the moment even the smallest trickle of sunshine appears behind woollen clouds we are racing outdoors to bake ourselves with its heat. Winter is fast approaching and Sunshine has become somewhat of a rare commodity.
Each week we scour weather forecasts, hoping to glance upon a sunny prediction so that we may plan to capture as much of those golden rays as possible. One week in March we finally came up trumps with sunshine predicted to fall on a Sunday. Before our fingerprints had even made a mark on the newspaper we were planning itineraries and filling our tanks.
We eventually decided on a road-trip down Victoria's famous winding Great Ocean Road, where we made pit-stops along seaside towns for replenishment, visited cascading waterfalls set within a lush canopy of trees and moss covered rocks before stopping to watch the waves crash upon the sand and explore microcosms of tiny rock pools on our way home. We utilised every drop of daylight and had a magical day.
Before setting off on our sun-soaked adventure, I had prepared a sweet snack that would await us on our return knowing we would be in need of a pick-me-up after a day spent in nature.
Vanilla custard with ginger granita and Granny Smith apple
from September 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller
2-3 Granny Smith apples
125 gm caster sugar
80 gm (16cm piece) ginger, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
Baked vanilla cream
675 ml pouring cream
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
105 gm caster sugar
6 egg yolks
For ginger granita, combine sugar, ginger and 600ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar, then increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and stand to infuse (20 minutes). Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on ginger to remove as much liquid as possible (discard ginger), then add lemon juice, pour into a shallow tray, transfer to freezer and stir occasionally with a fork until frozen and ice crystals form (3-6 hours). Makes about 600ml.
Meanwhile, for baked vanilla cream, preheat oven to 160C. Combine cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir occasionally until hot (5 minutes). Remove from heat, cover and stand to infuse (1 hour). Whisk sugar and yolks in a bowl until pale and creamy (3-4 minutes). Reheat cream over medium heat until hot, then gradually pour onto yolk mixture, gently stirring to combine. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug, pressing to remove as many seeds as possible from the vanilla bean (discard vanilla bean). Stand for 5 minutes, then skim foam from surface. Divide evenly among six 250ml ovenproof glasses. Place glasses on a folded tea towel placed in a deep roasting pan, ensuring they are sitting level. Fill pan with enough hot water to come two-thirds of the way up the sides of glasses and cover with foil. Pierce a few holes in foil with a skewer to release steam, then bake until set, but with a slight wobble (30-35 minutes). Remove from oven, remove foil and stand in water until cool (30-40 minutes). Remove from water, dry glasses and refrigerate until chilled and firm (2 hours).
Cut apples into 1cm dice, divide among custards, top with granita and serve immediately.
prep time: 1hour & 20mins to get granita into the freezer and custard ready for the oven.
cooking time: 50mins for custard to cook and 2.5hours to set in fridge.
taste: 4.5/5. Independently, not as a whole.
I felt like blowing a trumpet and sounding the horns when I dug my spoon into the custard's creamy depths. Never have I been able to make a great custard, after so many years of failures I resigned myself to the fact that custard and I would never EVER be friends even though I loved it so; until today. This custard was perfect - velvet soft with delicate vanilla, classic comfort in a cup. I adored the custard on its own, and will be forever using this recipe seeing as though it was my first success.
The granita was cool and sweet with a spicy ginger kick but ultimately refreshing - so snowflake-esque as well in its delicacy. Despite the fact that I left it alone in the freezer without any fork grating, it dissolved instantly on the tongue like snow melting in Spring.
Unfrotunately when paired with the custard it completely took over and buried the gentle custard beneath its punch and the tartness of the apples. When all three combined the custard merely became the 'adhesive' for the granita and apple, such a waste.
would I make it again: A resounding YES to the custard, but NO to the dish as a whole.