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Old 05-30-2020, 09:52 AM   #21
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If the water bath level is higher than the custard level in the ramekins, they could float. The water level should be close to the same level.

The purpose of the water bath is to moderate the heat getting to the custard so the eggs won't cook and get ugly on you. The evidence of that is in your last photo.
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Old 05-30-2020, 10:11 AM   #22
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If the water bath level is higher than the custard level in the ramekins, they could float. The water level should be close to the same level.
Just verified that one lol

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The purpose of the water bath is to moderate the heat getting to the custard so the eggs won't cook and get ugly on you. The evidence of that is in your last photo.
It just surprises me that so many recipes recommend the water level being lower than the custard level. It's very much starting to become apparent to me that any custard that is higher than the water level (or in my case even at water level,) gets reliably scrambled.

Working on another batch right now. The only custard of 3 that is not already scrambled on top is the one that is far below the water line. And it looks pretty smooth at the moment.

Any reason to think the sheer size of the ramekins could be causing some of this? They're 4.5" in diameter and 2" tall. Could it be that the centers of the deeper custards are cooking too slowly, and are causing the top to start sinking in places and cooking unevenly?
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Old 05-30-2020, 10:14 AM   #23
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The ramekins I use are smaller than yours diameter wise.



Try putting a sheet pan on the rack above to shield them from direct heat. Maybe your top heat source is working extra hard.
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Old 05-30-2020, 11:00 AM   #24
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Try putting a sheet pan on the rack above to shield them from direct heat. Maybe your top heat source is working extra hard.
Yeah I've thought about that. I figured if that were the case then baking them on the bottom rack would do the trick. But I didn't really see much difference. And the ramekins with less never seem to get it as bad as the ramekins with more. A difference of just 1/4"-1/2" of custard seems to make a big difference.
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Old 05-30-2020, 12:39 PM   #25
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I've figured it out!! At long last. (And by "figured it out" I mean somebody on another forum suggested the following..)

In the recipe(s) I've been using, it says to beat the eggs/sugar until pale. Which apparently has basically been whipping them, adding a ton of air to the mix.

In the oven, the air then rises to the surface and bakes much quicker than the rest, resulting in a foamy, bubbly, rough, top layer, that cooks too quickly then sinks as it cools.

So this time I gently combined the eggs and sugar just until mixed. No actually beating occurred. This batch came out perfectly smooth. Problem solved :)

Thanks Andy & MedTran for the suggestions. They weren't the fix necessarily, but are some useful tips nonetheless. So thanks.
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Old 05-30-2020, 12:54 PM   #26
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Thank goodness you figured it out. I've been reading about cream, egg and sugar shortages in the Raleigh area.
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Old 05-30-2020, 01:04 PM   #27
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Thank goodness you figured it out. I've been reading about cream, egg and sugar shortages in the Raleigh area.
Yeah sorry about that. It went to a good cause though☝🏻
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Old 05-30-2020, 05:22 PM   #28
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I missed in your original post that you were mixing the eggs and sugar. I put the sugar in the cream and let it dissolve that way so just assumed you were doing that too. Sorry, but glad it's figured out.
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Old 05-30-2020, 07:33 PM   #29
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I missed in your original post that you were mixing the eggs and sugar. I put the sugar in the cream and let it dissolve that way so just assumed you were doing that too. Sorry, but glad it's figured out.
Interesting. Every recipe I've seen has me mixing the sugar with the eggs. What's the theory behind adding it to the cream?
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Old 05-31-2020, 06:43 AM   #30
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Interesting. Every recipe I've seen has me mixing the sugar with the eggs. What's the theory behind adding it to the cream?
That the liquid and heat dissolve the sugar, which is what you are doing when you beat the eggs with the sugar until pale. I just have to beat the egg yolks enough to have a cohesive mixture.
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Old 05-31-2020, 05:50 PM   #31
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Often times, instructions are vague. Mixing, and beating can mean different things. You mix together a pancake batter doe instance. But that means mixing with a whisk, or spoon, leaving small lumps in the batter. Often time mixing together eggs and milk, to use for scrambled eggs, or as an egg wash is done with a fork. To mix until pale, simply means to make sure that the egg is completely blended together until smooth and uniform. It doesn't mean to use an electric mixer. As yo said, you don't want to whip air into the custard,u nless you are trying to make a mouse, or souffle.

Also, think about what you are making. Basally, you are making a Creme Patisserie in a ceramic ramekin, with a has caramel costing on top. Ceramic is an insulator, and doesn't absorb, or give up heat readily. That being said, once it is hot, it tends to maintain a steady temperature which helps it cook foods more evenly. But as with all insulators, it will develop not spots, as heat will not readily distribute itself throughout the material. If the water bath that the ramekin sitting in rises 2/3rds of the way up the vessel, the top 3rd, will be hotter than the lower third, as the water can not rise above 212 degrees F. The air temp in the oven can get hotter, and the top third of the ramekin will absorb that heat. Therefor, the top half of the custard will be more firm than the bottom 2/3rds of the custard. Also, the jiggle test works because of the latent heat if both the ceramic material, and the hotter outside portion of the custard. That latent heat will continue to cook the not fully cooked custard center when the ramekins are removed from the oven. If the custard was baked until the center was firm, the outer layer of custard would be overcooked, and not pleasant. The brulee part of creme brulee is browning of the sugar crystals on top with a kitchen torch, on top of the custard.

Think about the physical properties of the materials, and foods that you are working with. It will make you a better cook, whether it be with proteins, pastries, veggies, barbecue, or any other kind of cooking/food preparation. A little physics and chemistry goes a long way in understanding how to prepare food. I mean, it works for both Chef Longwind of the North (me), and for Alton Brown.

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