Creme Caramel. Photography: Atikah Akhtar, unsplash
Creme Caramel. Photography: Atikah Akhtar, unsplash

Sephardic Crème Caramel

Crème caramel is a popular dessert in the Spanish-speaking world, as well as amongst the Jews of Spain and Bulgaria.

Creme Caramel, which is made of eggs and milk cooked together in a water bath (Bain Marie), has several names. Among the Jews of Turkey it is called Creme Catalan – named after the communities of Catalonia who came to Istanbul and Izmir with the recipe (by the way – in Barcelona the term Creme Catalan has a different meaning and it is the name of pastry cream and not the dessert); among the Jews of Thessaloniki it is called Leche Portugues for exactly the same reason, while in Spain and South America it is called Flan.

In Israel, of all the names, the French name Crème Caramel, which was popular in Francophone Bulgaria, took root. This recipe is based on the one served at the Bulgarian Boyana restaurant in Jaffa.

Ingredients for Creme Caramel

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5.3 oz (150 grams) + 4 tablespoons of Sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 lemon zested
  • pinch of Salt


  • 1. Heat a heavy skillet and add 4 tablespoons of sugar. Cook until the sugar dissolves and turns into deep-colored caramel. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into 6 heatproof cups or to a Pyrex tray.

  • 2. Pour the milk into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and pour over the caramel in the tray or individual cups.

  • 3. Arrange the molds in a large baking pan and fill with water, leaving about ½-inch (1 cm) to the top. Bake in an oven preheated to 320F degrees (160C) for at least two hours until you get a cream with a stable texture.

  • 4. Remove from the water and allow to cool at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for another 6 hours at least.

  • 5. When ready to serve, run a knife around the sides of the molds to release the custard easily. Flip over onto a serving plate, or individual plates, and serve.

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