Crema Catalana: Best recipe for Catalonia’s most typical dessert

Crema catalana is Catalonia’s most renowned dessert; made with an egg custard base and caramelised sugar topping, find it on the menu of almost any restaurant in the region and you won’t be disappointed.

Traditionally served in a clay dish, this dessert steeped in history and legend is will tickle both your curiosity and your taste buds. So what is the story behind crema catalana?

The chances are you’ve tried France’s crème brûlée or Portugal’s creme caramel – two desserts that are similar to crema catalana – however today we’re going to delve into the history of this sweet treat and explain to you step by step how to make it at home.

As far back as we can remember, crema catalana has been associated with Catalonia’s local holidays, being above all the typical dessert served on the day of Sant Josep in early spring (19 March). Yet, legend has it that the dessert became so popular in the region of Catalonia in the 18th century when the monks of a Catalan monastery served this dessert to a visiting bishop.

As the story goes, the flans the monks were going to serve to the bishop didn’t set, so instead the monks served crema catalana. When the bishop tried a spoonful of the dessert, which he expected to be cold, he cried: “Crema!” ­– which in Catalan means, “it’s burning hot!” And this is where this curious dessert gets its name “Crema Catalana”.

So now it’s your turn. Today we bring you a homemade recipe that uses basic ingredients you can find at any supermarket. What’s more it’s simple enough for everyone at home to join in and help.

So, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in: it’s time to make your very own Crema Catalana.

Crema Catalana - Crema catalana recipe

Crema Catalana recipe step by step

Ingredients

  • 1 litre of whole milk
  • 8 medium-sized egg yolks
  • 25 g of cornstarch
  • 250 g of white sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • zest of half a lemon

Instructions

  1. First of all, wash your hands and all surfaces you are going to use thoroughly before starting to prepare this delicious homemade dessert. Now let’s get to work!
  2. Wash the lemon well and peel it. Be sure to remove all the white part from the zest, as it can give your crema catalana a bitter taste.
  3. Pour a glass of milk and add the cornstarch. Stir well to ensure the cornstarch dissolves.
  4. Pour the remaining milk into a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick and the lemon zest.
  5. Slowly bring the milk to boil on a low heat.  Be sure to stir regularly and make sure the milk does not burn.
  6. When the milk reaches boiling point, take it off the heat and cover with a lid for the cinnamon and lemon to release their flavours. Leave to one side to infuse and cool.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with 200 g of white sugar until combined.
  8. When the milk has cooled, add the egg and sugar mixture to the saucepan and combine well. Then, add the glass of milk with cornstarch and mix.
  9. Next, leave the mixture to heat slowly on a low heat. Stir for approximately five minutes with a wooden spoon always in the same direction (for example always clockwise) until the milk slowly begins to thicken into cream. It’s important not to let the mixture boil and to remove all lumps.
  10. Take the cream off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. Pour the cream into a large ovenproof dish or individual dishes, depending on how you are going to serve it.
  11. Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature. When it has cooled, you can store it in the fridge if you don’t plan on eating it immediately.
  12.  Before serving, sprinkle the crema catalana with the remaining sugar. Lightly burn the sugar topping with a cooking torch until it begins to turn golden brown and caramelise.

Now, grab a spoon and dig in to your very own homemade Crema Catalana!

Tips:

  • If you’re not a fan of cinnamon and lemon, remove them before leaving the milk to cool down in step 6. This will give the Crema Catalana a milder flavour.
  • Why not try infusing your crema catalana with something different? We suggest citrus fruits, lavender or even rosemary. Let’s get creative!
  • You can buy cooking torches from any hardware stores or specialist cooking stores.
  • It’s important you caramelize the sugar topping immediately after adding it, before the cream base absorbs it. This will ensure you get a solid caramel topping.

We hope you enjoy this traditional Catalan dessert! Bon profit!

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Eixample Esquerre: the coolest neighbourhood in the world 2020 according to Time Out

Eixample Esquerre has done it. Beating the likes of Soho, London, Downtown, Los Angeles, and even the most stylish and upcoming neighbourhoods in Berlin, Paris and Hong Kong, it has been voted the coolest neighbourhood in the world right now by Time Out.

With the help of its international team of editors and a global reader survey, every year the online magazine picks a favourite. This year Esquerra de l’Eixample in Barcelona has taken the top spot and we couldn’t be happier.

Why Esquerra de l’Eixample?

It was not only Esquerra de l’Eixample’s unique grid-like architecture, its endless list of restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries, and its LGBTQ+ clubs and bars, (hence its nickname “Gayxample”) that have taken it to the top spot this year.

Above all, it was Esquerra de l’Eixample’s community spirit that has proved it to be the most authentic, and coolest, neighbourhood on earth. Dealing with the most unexpected circumstances earlier this year, this community has come together to support its most vulnerable during this time of hardship.

In our complete guide to Eixample Barcelona you can learn about the history of the sprawling Eixample neighbourhood, which is actually split into two main districts: Esquerra (left) de l’Eixample and Dreta (right) de l’Eixample. As a rule of thumb, and as their names indicate, one is to the left of Passeig de Gràcia and the other to the right.

So, we’ve put together a short guide to Esquerra de l’Eixample, the lesser-known Eixample district, so you can get to know it like a local.

What to see and do in Esquerra de l’Eixample

Here’s a round up of our favourites things to see and do in the Esquerra de l’Eixample neighbourhood. We recommend you check online before visiting, as opening times may very due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parc de Joan Miró

C/ d’Aragó, 2, 08015 Barcelona

Visiting Esquerra de l’Eixample with kids? Not to worry! This park is ideal for kids of all ages with areas shaded by palm trees and pines, a playground and a striking sculpture by Joan Miró. Perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Eixample esquerre - Parc de Joan Miró

Mercat de Sant Antoni

Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 1, 08011 Barcelona

Discover the best-quality local produce and history in this magnificent building by the local architect Rovira i Trias. After almost a decade of renovation, it has recently opened its doors once again. What’s more, don’t miss the second-hand book market right outside on Sundays.

Eixample Esquerre - Sant Antoni

Casa Sayrach

Avinguda Diagonal, 423, 425, 08037 Barcelona

Also known as the House of “Cream” due to its milky colour, this fantastic example of late-modernist architecture by the architect, Manel Sayrach, took inspiration from Gaudí.

Eixample Esquerre - Casa Sayrach

La Model


Carrer d’Entença, 155, 08029 Barcelona

Although visiting a former prison may not be the first thing you think about when planning your trip to Barcelona, La Model project remembers over 100 years of history. Discover more with guided visits and a range of cultural events, art exhibitions and concerts hosted regularly.

eixample esquerre - La Model

Where to eat & drink in Eixample Esquerre

Carrer d’Enric Granados

Stroll down this pedestrian- and bike-friendly street lined with trees at any time of day and you’re sure to find locals of all ages out and about. Stop at any of its restaurants, bars and coffee shops, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Fàbrica Moritz

Ronda de Sant Antoni, 41, 08011 Barcelona

A microbrewery belonging to Barcelona’s famous Moritz beer, drop by to try any of its variants with a selection of tasty Catalan-inspired tapas, take a tour of the brewery and learn the history of the city’s local tipple.

Malasang

Carrer del Comte Borrell, 148, 08015 Barcelona

With its sleek, modern interior decked out in wooden fittings, Malasang boasts character and captures the modern-vibe of Esquerra de l’Eixample. Drop by for tapas, vermouth or beer. You won’t be disappointed!

Pastisseria Takashi Ochiai

Carrer del Comte d’Urgell, 110, 08011 Barcelona

This Japanese bakery serves the best Nippon treats. From matcha cappuccinos, homemade mochis and doriyakis to local and equally delicious sweet treats. Not to be missed!

Bar La Principal

Carrer de Sepúlveda, 186, 08006 Barcelona

An emblem of the neighbourhood, this bar on the border of Sant Antoni offers a unique experience with its tiled interior and street-side terrace. Offering simple bites to eat and a selection of local drinks, grab a seat and tuck in.

Where to stay in Eixample Esquerre

Now you know where to eat and what to see and do, there’s only one thing left to make sure your trip is as comfortable as possible. Our flats located in the heart of Eixample Esquerre are perfect for discovering this area and ensuring you don’t miss out on a thing.

Our ethnic-style Livingstone apartment is located close to the Sant Antoni marketplace. This light-filled pad it is perfect for corporate visits. Also in Eixample Esquerre is KissMe. This romantic 2-bedroom apartment has a balcony overlooking Carrer Rocafort, and is ideal for an early-morning coffee or late-afternoon drinks.

Our apartment Noname also in Eixample Esquerre is just a stone’s throw away from Plaça Espanya and boasts three spacious bedrooms. And, finally, the ArtBlue penthouse is a haven for art lovers that is located on the fashionable Carrer d’Aribau, boasting a plethora of local-run shops, bars and restaurants.

We hope you enjoy your visit to Eixample Esquerre!

La Castanyada in Barcelona, The Chestnut Festival

La Castanyada  is almost here here! La Castanyada is a custom of eating roasted chestnuts and panellets (traditional Catalan sweets) during the 1st and 2nd of November.

This is a custom held deep in the hearts of Catalans since we are children. We observe this day in school years, not falling foul to the Halloween pageant and its pumpkin lanterns.  This tradition has been going for much longer and is hosted by the Castanyera – a kind of mythical good lady witch – who would sit behind her charcoal fire roasting chestnuts for everybody in her peasant rags.  Some of the traditions have also been borrowed from traditional funeral offerings that have long been forgotten in the passage of time.

Eat Roasted Chestnuts in La Castanyada

La Castanyada is the survival of those traditions in a more modern form that pays homage to all of the Catalan Saints (1st November) and the Day of the Dead (2nd November).

Castanyada - Castanyada Catalonia

The first day of La Castanyada would begin with the churches beginning a non-stop ringing of bells to warn the citizens on the arrival of the time to pray for their deceased.  The chestnuts are said to have been roasted for the bell-ringers who would be working all day, and that the chestnuts and sweet pieces were to replenish their strength and stave off the cold while they took turns to rest.

According to some sources, the tradition became more widespread across Catalunya and other regions of Spain and Portugal during the Eighteenth Century.  So if you are visiting Barcelona during this time, La Castanyada 2017 will be right on your doorstep, as virtually every street corner in the city will host a stall roasting chestnuts and sweet potatoes (moniato) for you to buy and eat right away in hot portions.

Try the Delicious Panellets in La Castanyada

The best ones are almond-flavoured, candied fruit that are coated in pine nuts and are a typical meal for the La Castanyada celebration.  The origins of this part of the tradition are somewhat lost in history, but some ideas hint that this custom is linked to the blessing of loaves, which were deposited as an offering to family tombs in honour of the memory of the ancestors and also as food in their journey to the beyond.

Panellets - Castanyada

La Castanyada  with all its beautiful tasting chestnuts and sweets is actually a communion celebration to worship deceased relatives.  Traditionally, while there will be many roasted chestnut vendors on the streets, it is not really a street-style festival.  It’s actually a very private moment for the Catalan family as they spend time together and pay respect to their lost ones.  In fact during La Castanyada, families would normally go to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of their deceased family members and then spend the rest of the day at home, together.

However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be things going on the city.  Barcelona is one of the most vibrant places in Europe.  If you are looking to stay here during this time, or anytime even, we have a fantastic choice of holiday rental apartments to ensure that your trip is pleasant and comfortable.  Check our selection here.

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