Crème Caramel

600 ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
80g sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

For the caramel topping:
75 ml water
100 g sugar
soufflé dish or heatproof mould 1.25 litre capacity or
8 small ramekins or custard pots 150 ml capacity each

1. For the caramel topping: heat the water and sugar until dissolved then boil steadily to a golden brown caramel. Remove from the heat. When the bubbles have subsided, pour the hot caramel into the mould and immediately turn the mould round to coat the base and sides evenly with the caramel. Leave to cool and set. Set the oven at a moderate 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Scald the milk by bringing it to the boil with the vanilla pod, cover and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pod, and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Beat the eggs and egg yolks until mixed and stir into the hot milk mixture. Allow to cool slightly and strain into the prepared mould(s).

3. Set the mould in a water bath and bring, to the boil on top of the stove. Cook in the heated oven for 40-50 minutes for a large mould, 20-25 minutes for individual ones, or until the custard has just set and a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean. Take from the water bath and allow to cool. Creme caramel can be made unto 48 hours ahead and, kept covered in the refrigerator. Not more than an hour before serving, run a knife around the edge of the cream and turn it out-onto a serving dish.

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