I decided to tackle two French items I've been dying to make for months--Pots de creme, and bread, baked free form.
I was surprised at how easy it is to make pots de creme, as it requires very little money and effort. The bread was also a bit easier than I'd expected, but I definitely have to tweak the recipe after a few tries until I find the perfect consistency I like.
Vanilla pots de creme (makes 6)
I changed the original recipe by using regular vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean since it is cheaper, and I didn't want to waste my vanilla beans on myself. And I used milk instead of half and half because I wanted something lighter.
2 cups milk (I used whole. I can't imagine using anything less fattening. It probably won't turn out creamy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and put 3/4 of the milk in a saucepan on the stove. Heat the milk until steam rises. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and add in the rest of the milk and sugar.
Then slowly add in the steamed milk to the egg mixture while stirring (this is called tempering). If you add the hot milk all at once, you get scrambled eggs.
Take out your ramekins or whatever serving cups you want to use, and spray them lightly with cooking spray, and put the cream mixture into the dishes.
Next, put the ramekins in a roasting pan (I used a casserole dish since I don't roast anything, and it turned out fine), and add really hot water to the pan until it is half way up the sides of the dishes. Cover the pan in foil, and put in the oven for 45 minutes. The custard should be firm on the outside, but jiggle a bit in the middle.
Take out the custard cups, cover them in foil, and put them in the fridge for at least two hours.
It tasted like creme caramel, or creme brulee without the crunchy top. I'm definitely going to be making different flavor variations of this. I have some maple syrup that could probably work well. Next time however, I may lessen the sugar by a couple of teaspoons.
Bread isn't fun to make without a bread machine, or a stand mixer, but I managed it, and it honestly isn't that bad. I won't post the recipe yet, since I want to experiment with different temperatures and molds, and plan to use milk instead of water to make the crust more tender. But here is the result, and it tasted like the bread macaroni grill gives you when you go to their restaurant. I may also knead it a tad more next time. That was the worst part, but not as bad as I expected it to be. Dough is really sticky!
Here is the fully risen dough
And here is the finished result. I need to shape this better!