What's for pud? Crème Anglaise & Crumble aux Poires

When I read about the creation of a food event to celebrate Saint George's day, the national day in England, on Becks & Posh, I found it an excellent idea, as I was just reading Beef & Liberty, a history book on roast beef and its significance in England (and thus about France too). If I had had a say on the event, I would – of course - have given beef as a theme, as no other food seems to have been the source of so much pride, clubs and songs in England, and I wouldn’t have hesitated a second to quote a few, like the following:

Renown'd Sir-Loin, oft times decreed
The theme of English Ballad,
E'en Kings on the have deign'd to feed,
Unknown to Frenchman's palate;
Then how much more they Taste exceeds
Soup-meagre, Frogs and Sallads.

or this one:
When mighty roast beef was the Englishman's food,
It ennobled our hearts, and enriched our blood,
Our soldiers were brave,
Our courtiers were good
Oh the roast beef of England
And old England's roast beef!

But since we have learnt from all conquering France
To eat their ragouts as well as to dance,
Oh what a fine figure we make in romance!
Oh the roast beef of England
And old England's roast beef!

Then, Britons, from all nice dainties refrain,
Which effeminate Italy, France and Spain
And mighty roast beef shall command on the main
Oh the roast beef of England
And old England's roast beef!

At the same time, I have several reasons to rejoice that the choice of the theme turned out to be puds, and not beef:
- I have a (very) sweet tooth;
- I haven’t completely overcome the dreadful memories of having to eat some BOILED beefburgers during a home-stay in England in the 80’s;
- And last but not least, I’m on a mission to prove Germany – no less - that custard powder such as this, and probably that, is as necessary to prepare a custard as a silicone corner roller is to roll the corners of a square pizza.
So, in honour of the day, I have decided to prepare a crème anglaise (custard), as well as an improvised pear crumble, which was tested and found good by an Englishman, which I hope makes it good enough for today, if not totally typical.

Crème Anglaise

For 4 persons:
4 egg yolks (or 6 for a thicker consistence)
1/2 litre milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
Pour the milk and the split vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
In the meantime, stir the sugar and the egg yolks with a heavy wooden spoon until they get whiter. Pour the boiled milk slowly over it while stirring completely.
Now comes the more delicate part. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan, and heat it slowly while stirring constantly with the spoon. The custard is cooked once the foam that appeared while mixing the yolks with the sugar has disappeared. If you leave it even just a bit longer on the gas top, the yolks will most probably coagulate... which is not the end of the world, since you will simply need to use an immersion mixer to recover the smooth and even mixture that the custard should have, but don't forget to remove the vanilla pod first. Cool in the refrigerator.
Many trials seem to have shown that the coagulation happens from 85°C on, while the custard starts to get thicker from 69°C on. If you don't have the patience to look closely at the consistence of the liquid and stop it at just the right time, a solution is to buy an immersion thermometer, programme it on 83°C (171°F), and remove the pan as soon as the temperature is reached. Whatever the solution, you will have to stir the mixture until it's ready and can be removed from the flame.
Pear crumble

For 4 persons:
4 to 6 pears
4 tablespoons of oats
2-4 tablespoons of sugar, preferably brown
2-3 tablespoons of salted butter (beurre demi-sel)
Crushed cardamom seeds
Rub all the ingredients - except for the pears - between your fingers until they form a crumbly mixture, not too long.
Peel the pears, chop them in dices which you will put in four ramequins. Sprinkle with the crumble.
One hour before they have to be eaten, preheat the oven at 200°C. Bake the crumbles for 30-40 minutes, until the surface is golden.
Serve warm, accompanied by the custard, (or with a generous teaspoon of cold crème fraiche put on top).

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ostwestwind hat gesagt…

Beef? I would have chosen lamb ;), with mint sauce.

Ivonne hat gesagt…

Beautiful crumble!

vatel hat gesagt…

Respekt, Respekt, Veronique...!

Keine Liebe ist aufrichtiger als die Liebe zum Essen.
George Bernard Shaw

Sam hat gesagt…

Maybe next year we should celebrate St George's Day with savoury English dishes instead?

Thank you so much for your entertaining post and for taking part in What's for Pud.

Véronique hat gesagt…

Thank you all, and yes, Sam, savoury dishes would be a great idea for next year.

Du musst dich schnellstens bemühen, deine Ehre wiederzuherstellen. Anthony Bourdain hat sich in der letzten Ausgabe von Observer Food Monthly erlaubt, folgendes zu sagen: "Vatel punked out over a late fish delivery and offed himself like a bad poet. Somebody had to cover his station the next day.'"