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Îles flottantes / Floating Islands – GBBO technical bake 3

September 3, 2013
Isles flottantes floating islands mary berry great british bake off technical bake

Little fluffy clouds

I’ve never eaten an island. Not unless you count the fact that I like a *lot* of custard on  my crumble, thereby flooding the fruit-based landmass and creating a new crumbly colony.

I’ve seen Isles Flottantes on menus but to be honest, like Stephanie at Riverside Baking I’ve never fancied the idea of soft meringue and cold custard. Still, I’m nothing if not stubborn and so I embarked on by Island adventure. Here’s my wisdom on technical bake numero trois.

1. The meringue mix is lovely, like marshmallow fluff. I ate quite a lot straight from the bowl.
2. Don’t try baking any spare meringue mix, it doesn’t seem to be the same – less sugar I think.
3. The crème anglaise was nice but I think I only just caught I before it split and so after chilling overnight it had gone a bit lumpy. You can see it at the edge of the photos. NEVER STOP STIRRING IT!
4. Spun sugar….I’ve done it plenty of times before with no problem. 3 attempts this time and it still wasn’t playing soft-“ball” (that’s a sugar temperature joke for the geeks out there). grr.
5. As the recipe says, don’t let the poaching liquid boil or the meringues puff and then flop.
6. Would someone like to take me to a restaurant that serves this, just for research?

Here’s Mary Berry’s recipe which cunningly uses the poaching liquid to make the custard.
I used the Michel Roux Jr. recipe which is less frugal in its milk usage, but does mean you can make the custard ahead. You can see the list of ingredients below.

great British Bake Off Floating Islands Isles Flottantes Mary Berry

Too puffy in texture?

For the crème anglaise
750ml/1⅓ pint milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds only
8 free-range egg yolks
190g/7oz caster sugar
For the poaching liquor
500ml/18fl oz milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
For the meringue
8 free-range egg whites
190g/7oz caster sugar
For the caramel
75g/2½oz caster sugar

You can see all the bloggers who are baking along with GBBO by checking out the “Great Blogger Bake Off” hosted by The Crazy Kitchen and Mummy Mishaps and also the link up over at Bakers Anonymous



16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2013 9:31 pm

    Yum! I’ve never had Iles Flottantes, but have always wanted to! Don’t think I’m brave enough to give them a go at home though :¬/

  2. September 3, 2013 9:55 pm

    That looks like a great attempt, well done. Can’t say I have ever fancied them and that was before I even realised the custard was supposed to be cold!

  3. September 3, 2013 10:53 pm

    goodness Gill these look wonderful! I am thinking to make some too. Perhaps with a hint of star anise or cardamom in the creme anglaise (perhaps it will infuriate the purists!)

  4. September 4, 2013 9:49 am

    What did you think of the taste? I used an older mary berry recipe from her complete cookbook, and the meringues were lightly baked (still gooey) I feel like a floating island fraud!

  5. September 4, 2013 10:09 am

    I think the main problem on GBBO was that no one appeared to have ever seen these served in France – I’ve never in my life seen isles flottantes served on flat plates.

    Isles flottantes is a regular dessert on low cost French prix fixe menus – the ingredients are inexpensive and they can be made well ahead and stored in the fridge until served (probably for 48-72 hrs too).

    The best way they serve them in France is in a tall sundae glass with ice cold (ice cold, very very important) thin custard that’s had a little caramel sauce poured through it, a dollop of the meringue floating on top and a dash of caramel drizzle on that. The only other thing should be a few flakes of toasted almonds. They should be in tall glasses so you can see the layers of caramel, runny custard and meringue. You should get that pleasing effect of spooning the dark caramel base through the pale yellow custard.

    They’re a very light dessert, just the job after a French dinner when you fancy something sweet but not stodgy. Done properly they’re my favourite holiday dessert ever and I was horrified how they did them on GBBO!

    • September 4, 2013 3:09 pm

      That makes so much more sense. I’m going to do some googling to see what the true version of it looks like. Have you ever had them done properly in the UK. I do feel for the bakers though as they are presumably given the same plates. I’m not sure I’d really class them as baking to be honest. ?

  6. September 4, 2013 4:13 pm

    The description Sarah (above) gives sounds so much more appealing than how the GBBO did them on Tuesday. Can’t say I’ve ever tried floating islands but have heard of them before. I would probably fail dismally if I tried baking them (I have an inexplicable fear of making meringues!)

    Thanks for the vanilla cake recipe. I haven’t given up on yoghurt cakes yet!

  7. September 4, 2013 10:50 pm

    i am so pleased to see some iles flottantes entered! i really want to try some – not sure if i am brave enough to make them myself but i would love to have someone make them for me.
    i think yours look beautiful and would have done well in the techincial round.
    thank you for linking up x

  8. September 5, 2013 2:54 pm

    these look great & so much better than the efforts on GBBO..I can’t say that the appealed to me in the slightest but served the way that Sarah has mentioned sounds much more appealing.
    Thanks for joining in Great Bloggers Bake Off.

  9. September 6, 2013 12:49 pm

    I had never heard of these before, and yours look delicious!

  10. September 6, 2013 8:32 pm

    These look so neat and fluffy. And that custard looks very slurpable. Yum!

  11. September 7, 2013 10:13 pm

    I’m not a fan of custard at all, but your meringues and caramel look yummy! 😉

  12. September 8, 2013 4:42 pm

    love the look of these, I wanted to give them a go but had so little time spare this week, I really must though they look deliciously light and fluffy, love custard on/in anything 🙂

  13. September 9, 2013 11:22 am

    I’m not convinced I would like these, but well done for having a go 🙂 (not yours btw, just meringues and cold custard in general!)

  14. September 10, 2013 5:32 pm

    As Sarah said, never seen them served on flat plates, so very odd. Love them in wide bowls (rather than sundae glasses) and with caramel and shard of caramel (rather than spun sugar). Pierre Koffmann’s restaurant in Knightsbridge do a nice one…

  15. September 12, 2013 10:21 am

    I used the Mary Berry version for my attempt. It wasn’t until I read your blog post that I realised they were supposed to be cold. I served mine warm and the custard from the Bake-Off recipe came out really thick (not surprising that it’s made with double cream). I might try it cold with thinner custard to see what thats like but warm it was good comfort food. Your version looks very neat. I am impressed!

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