300g Yorkshire forced rhubarb, cut into 2.5cm batons
50g light brown soft sugar
650ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out
10 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar, plus 6 teaspoons for the topping

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Rhubarb Burnt Cream

SERVES: Makes 6

When it comes to the aetiology of British puddings, Cambridge burnt cream has all the drama, humour and irony of a Hollywood blockbuster. The basic plot involves a French cook visiting England in the seventeenth century, and stumbling across a Cambridge college cook baking lovely custards with a caramelised sugar crust. He heads back to France to publish the recipe for crème brûlée – the direct translation of burnt cream. That French classic is based on none other than this humble English pud. And what’s more English than rhubarb and custard?

Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/320°F/Gas mark 2.

Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the rhubarb, light brown soft sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Leave the rhubarb to cook slowly for 10–15 minutes, until softened. Check the sweetness – you want to leave
the rhubarb a little tart to offset the sweet custard.

Put the cream and the vanilla seeds in a heavy-based saucepan, and bring to the boil over a medium heat.

Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Once the cream has reached boiling point, carefully pour it into the bowl of eggs and sugar, whisking continuously. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a jug.

Spread the rhubarb among six 175ml ramekins, then gently pour the custard on top. Put the ramekins in a deep roasting tin and pour boiling water into the tin until the water is halfway up each ramekin. Bake for 35–40 minutes, until only a slight wobble remains. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before placing in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a teaspoon of caster sugar over the tops of each baked custard and place under a hot grill until the sugar has caramelised. Alternatively, you can use a blowtorch.