The New Bakers Dozen
no luck with creme brulee at high altitude

The The Bakers Dozen: no luck with creme brulee at high altitude
By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 12:56 am: Edit

My restaurant is at close to 9,000 ft altitude in Colorado. I am having a hard time getting my creme brulee to set. I have tried lots of different ways of doing this to, all to no avail. I am using 9 yolks, to a quart of cream to a cup of sugar. I have tried cooking the yolks over a double boiler, not heating the cream, heating the cream and yolks to almost custard consistency before baking, cooling the mixture in an ice water bath before baking,using boiling water in the water bath, regular oven, convection oven,covered with foil. Sometimes they set, but most of the time, even after baking for hours, they don't. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chris

By Corey (Corey) on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 02:54 am: Edit

hmm, all I know is at high altitudes of 3000 feet (914 metres) or over affect baking cakes and yeast breads. The leavening agent (yeast, baking powder or soda) releases more and bigger gas bubbles that expand quickly and collapse easily, causing cakes and breads to fall. Moisture vaporizes at a lower temperature causing a drier texture. I will look thru my books for more.

By George (George) on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 05:28 pm: Edit

Have you tried increasing the number of yolks?

I'm no pastry guy but you might also want to consider a couple of whites.



By Pastrycrew (Pastrycrew) on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - 08:30 pm: Edit

Cvin, if you're cooking the yolks first before you place them in your ramekins, the creme brulee won't set properly (but you end up with a nice creme anglaise sauce). You'd be better off if you just mixed everything cold and baked it from there. 12 yolks would be better though for your creme brulee, not 9. Other than that your recipe is good. Your elevation shouldn't effect creme brulee.

I guess the proper way would be to heat your cream and 1/2 of the sugar, temper this with the other 1/2 sugar/yolks, and strain it immediately so the mixture doesn't cook on the stove. Where I work, we just heat all the sugar and cream, pour it slowly over the yolks and proceed from there. Place the mixture into ramekins, water bath them and bake. They will be like set jello in the center when you pull them from the oven. That will give you a creamy consistency once they have been refrigerated.

Not sure what flavor you want, but you can add up to 2-3oz liquor into this or flavoring. Vanilla is the most popular but beans are pretty expensive now.

Regards, bt

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 08:50 pm: Edit

In case you haven't been successful yet. At 5100 feet we cook the Creme Anglaise and refrigerate it (or not if we need Creme Brulee that night). We cook it to 172 degrees (you will have to adjust that for your altitude). When we cook it, we add frozen raspberries (about 5-7 per ramekin), and cook on slow for about 1 hour. We have been using this for about 6 years with never a problem. We are using 24 yolks and 6 whole eggs per gallon of liquid (half milk and half manufacturing cream). Hope this helps.

By Rosep34 (Rosep34) on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit

This may sound strange, but here it go's... I am pastry chef at a major casino in nevada. My husband is also a chef, but chose to persue a different avenue in the culinary field, he now owns and operates his own business selling R.L. Schrieber spices.[I am pretty sure they are in co.] Anyways, he turned me on to a product he distributes, it is an "instant" creme brulee. The product is way surperior, made with real vanilla bean, you mix the powder with half and half and cream bring it to a near boil and pour into ramekins. My customers can't tell the difference but I can tell the difference with a product that is consistant, fool proof, and comes out the same no matter who makes it. i eliminated the problem of a raw product, too brown, or bad texture. i sell approx. 24 little plastic to go dishes of creme brulee in our deli, 24 larger servings in the coffee shop, and we go through approx. 200 in our buffet and 100 of what I call mango fandango, [fandango is the name of the casino]. I put mango puree in the creme brulee and it doesn't affect the product. If you have R.L. Schreiber in your area, ask for a free sample. Or you can go on-line and get the phone number from schreiber's web site and ask them to send you a free sample.

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 12:50 am: Edit

Ladycake, your suggestion worked perfectly. It has come out wonderfully the last seven batches I have made. Thank you. And Rosep34, I will check out the website you suggested. I only sell between 2 and 10 brulees a night so I don't have the volume requirement that you do, but I will look into it anyway. Thanks. Chris

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit

Glad it worked for you :-) high altitudes can be tricky but with a little work nearly everything is possible.


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